By LYNNETTE HINTZE/Daily Inter Lake
Balance and moderation are words that surface frequently as Gil Jordan talks about the issues he sees as most pertinent in the Flathead County commissioner race.
In the Nov. 6 general election, Jordan, a Democrat, is challenging Commissioner Cal Scott, the Republican appointed to represent District 1 after Commissioner Jim Dupont died earlier this year. The winner will serve the remaining two years of Dupont’s term. Early voting begins Oct. 9.
District 1 covers the northern tier of Flathead County, but registered voters throughout the county will vote for the District 1 position.
Jordan is a proponent of zoning and believes that any revisions and upgrades to the county’s zoning regulations should reflect the county’s own stated core values: Accountable stewardship of taxpayer resources, respectful communication and equal treatment for all.
“It’s a win-win to not allow random free use of land,” Jordan said. “No one believes a neighbor should have the right to create, say, a toxic waste dump next door that poisons your water well or soil.”
On the other hand, he said, pointless regulation of activities that don’t materially affect your neighbor or the common good of the community shouldn’t infringe on an individual’s right to enjoy and use their private property.
Jordan favors development that clusters building and services and preserves open space.
Jordan said his service with the Coram/West Glacier Volunteer Fire Department for the past 25 years has given him insight into the importance of having a 911 central dispatch system that can provide effective communication for the rural expanses of Flathead County.
“Logistical, mechanical and technical issues are being worked out,” he said. “My understanding is they’re making progress, and we need to work on it because it’s critical ... I hear from our chief that there’s not a lot of good communication. They hear things secondhand.”
Jordan said he’s an advocate for improved communication between the county and the volunteer fire departments, and feels his experience as an administrator could be useful in such an area.
With county landfill expansion looming on the horizon, Jordan said the time is right to study long-term solutions to the kind of refuse the county puts into its landfill.
“I’d work very hard on green solutions,” he said.
As the county goes through the process of buying acreage for future landfill use, he said care must be given to “make sure we don’t tromp on the rights of individuals who own property around there.”
Jordan has a hard time understanding why the county and city of Whitefish couldn’t come to an agreement outside the courtroom for planning control of the two-mile “doughnut” around Whitefish.
“What are we doing in court?” he asked. “I’d push to have the parties sit down at the table. It’s not too late to settle.”
Preserving water quality was a key goal of the Whitefish critical areas ordinance that sparked the debate over governance of the doughnut area. And while improving water quality “will be among my highest priorities,” Jordan also pointed out that property owners in the doughnut shouldn’t be expected to pay for services or requirements mandated by the city.
Jordan sees himself as a fiscal conservative and would take the same approach to county finances that he does in his personal life.
“I’ve never paid a nickel of interest on a credit card,” he said. “I have one credit card and zero personal debt. I’m strictly a pay-as-you-go kind of guy. If I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it.”
Jordan said he would strive to keep the county’s loan balances as low as possible.
The economic diversity of Flathead County is a bonus for this area, he said.
“Balance is good,” Jordan stated. “To maintain balance, county policy needs to encourage business and economic activity that complements current success. Tourism, retail trade, service-sector jobs, health care, specialized services and green businesses all contribute to our improving economy without damaging the natural environment and the recreational opportunities that attract even more healthy economic activity to the valley.”
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.