Sharon Parry: Idaho Falls "needs to move past the distractions of cronyism and back door shenanigans"


by Sharon Parry,
Thank you, Post Register, for the opportunity to comment on my “strained” relationships with other elected officials.  At stake in this election: independent and transparent government free from cronyism and shenanigans.  Everyone wants open and honest government, but when that occurs some recoil as the honesty unravels self-serving agendas.
I have a collegial, consensus-building relationship with nearly every area public servant. Citizens are best served when government is open, transparent, and welcomes input. Although these beliefs have strained relationships at times, most elected officials are far more stout and appreciate honesty.
Perhaps the most relevant example arose from my stand that the Council perform an inspection and due diligence review of the Farr buildings purchase, particularly considering the personal and political ties between the owner and city council president Hardcastle. My insistence that Hardcastle recuse herself clearly alienated her, and she never moved past that strain.  Nevertheless, I believe government contracts should be awarded on merit, not friendship. While I place no blame on the owner, there is no place for cronyism in government.
My insistence on compliance with the spirit and letter of open meeting laws also drew resistance, but subsequent events demonstrated the need for training and confirmed my concerns as valid.  My sole dissenting vote on the City’s recent budget (which enshrined $2 million of deficit spending) and the publication of my reasoning irritated some.  Other examples exist of my willingness to challenge the status quo when necessary, but the point is that open, honest dialogue on issues is important.  As Mayor I will change the environment so as to welcome input and discussion, thereby building bridges.
Frankly, voters are clamoring for independent and direct leaders.  Although she has not yet disagreed with one of my votes, candidate Casper resorted to desperate name calling, labeling me a bridge burner when she has never held public office and has never challenged the status quo.  My unwillingness to play along with personal and political agendas has earned me the ire of some insiders and the old regime, including Hardcastle, who support Casper.  
Connecting the dots-- Casper accepted Governor Otter’s meddling, partisan endorsement without disclosing that Otter paid her $7,500 as a 2010 campaign staffer.  I, on the other hand, supported Otter’s opponent as a volunteer. Such political payback is woven throughout Casper’s campaign. We need a straightforward, fully transparent Mayor willing to put the City’s interests first.
Our City needs to move past the distractions of cronyism and back door shenanigans, and on to bigger issues of fiscal responsibility and true economic growth.  With 3 to 5 of the 7 City seats changing, my experience, proven record, and broad based support will bring a new day to Idaho Falls.
Mayoral Candidate Sharon D. Parry is serving in her second term on the Idaho Falls City Council. She can be reached at or 523-6339.