Hailey Mayor Will Not Seek Reelection In 2019
By Eric Valentine
Four years a city councilman, eight years a mayor, and next year a civilian just like the rest of us. Mayor Fritz Haemmerle dropped a hammer of a message yesterday, announcing he would not seek reelection as mayor of Hailey later this year.
“It’s a good thing when people flow through political life,” Haemmerle said. “There’s always a different way of looking at things and a different vision. That’s what a good, healthy political process is all about.”
Haemmerle said he made the announcement now to allow for a proper vetting of candidates heading into the election this fall. He plans to hold up to three town hall meetings he has dubbed “political karaoke” where folks interested in running for mayor can address the public and field questions about their vision for the city. The first town hall will be held Monday, Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Wood River High School Distance Learning Lab. Haemmerle will emcee the events “open-mic style,” he said.
“I don’t want anyone to sneak in to office,” Haemmerle said. “Voters should get to know everything they need to know about a candidate.”
Haemmerle said he does not plan on endorsing anyone in particular, at least not yet. He said he would reserve the right to not endorse someone if he feels they are “not good for the community.”
Haemmerle said his definition of “not good for the community” would include “someone who just wants to crunch budget numbers” and doesn’t have any true vision for the city or any understanding of how to “sell” people on the city.
Although Haemmerle’s decision not to run again is news, the mayor said the decision was probably made for him back in St. George, Utah, in October 2017. That’s when Haemmerle, now 60, endured a broken pelvis and other fractures in a 35-mph cycling accident when a tire blew out on his bike.
“It was a life-altering experience,” Haemmerle said. “I’m 60 now and the amount of time I have left to do all the physical things I want to do with my boys (ages 19 and 21) won’t last forever.”
Haemmerle, who spent a number of years in the 1990s as Hailey’s prosecuting attorney, said he has no plans to retire from his private law practice.
Looking back at his accomplishments, Haemmerle said there are both little things and big things he’s proud of. A little thing: the holiday lights on Main Street, he said. Some big things: conserving 1,296 acres of the Quigley Farm development, a $24 million biosolids plant, and the ice skating rink at Wertheimer Park (the rodeo grounds).
“That was crazy talk at the time,” Haemmerle said about the concepting of the rink. “But we let ourselves have a vision and push things along.”
Haemmerle said he will not miss the nightly meetings that come with being mayor, but he would miss the teamwork he has come to enjoy with city staff.
“These are not bureaucrats,” he said. “These are people who have vision and are visionaries. Someone will be inheriting a good situation.”