COEUR d'ALENE - Sharon Hebert is a private citizen who is growing more and more concerned about the city she chose to retire in, which prompted her to run for City Council.
Hebert is seeking council seat four, which is currently held by Councilman Woody McEvers. Amber Copeland is also seeking that seat.
"It is a big decision," Hebert said. "I am very much a private citizen, but I am very concerned about what's going on.
"What I have been watching for the past few years with the way the process has been handled with big-ticket dollar items, and just the general attitude of the City Council and the mayor."
Hebert has been an outspoken opponent of how the city handled the McEuen Park overhaul, and she was active in the failed attempt to recall three council members and the mayor last year.
"I never thought in my life that I would ever be an activist, let alone run for a council position," she said. "But it's gotten to the point where if not me, then who?"
Hebert, who relocated to Coeur d'Alene from California in 1995, got involved in the McEuen controversy after attending a public workshop the city held to gather public input on the concept.
Having some architectural background, Hebert said she realized right away that the new park's design concept was going to be costly.
"I thought to myself this is going to be really pricey," she said. "And there was no dollar ticket on anything, and when asked they hadn't even priced anything up."
It frustrated her that the city was proposing a remodel of the park and they didn't even have a budget for it yet. She said she could see that it was going to cost at least $30 million at that time, and they were not discussing the price with the citizens who attended the workshop.
Then there was a survey handed out in the workshop and nowhere on the survey did it ask if the citizens wanted the park changed, or how much they would be willing to spend on it.
"It was just a given that it was going to be done," she said. "There seems to be a presumption there that because they are elected by the people that they have all the rights and all the power, but they forget they are serving the people, and the people's money."
She said the city seems to think that just because the money was generated using urban renewal districts, it is theirs to spend any way they want to do it.
"It is still the taxpayers' money,' she said. "If they didn't have the money in there, they would have had to put this to the people for a vote."
Hebert believes if it were put to a vote, the people would have favored remodeling McEuen Park, but only at a fourth of what is being spent on it today.
"And it was all done to benefit the people downtown," she added.
As for the Lake City Development Corporation, which manages the City's Urban Renewal Districts, Hebert is not a fan.
"LCDC is legal," she said. "But I don't think it is right."
She said LCDC has too much authority and lacks proper oversight. Given the chance, she would vote to disband it.
"They already have theirs eyes on the Four Corners and what they want to do there," she said, referring to the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Government Way. "I don't know the details on that, but seeing where they have been already and the attitude they have, it makes me nervous."
She said what is done with Memorial Stadium has a lot of interest among the residents of Coeur d'Alene, so the city needs to be cautious as they proceed to develop plans for that area.
As for employee salaries, Hebert said there is a bigger issue at hand. She said the city needs an employee policy manual because they don't have anything that outlines the city's job descriptions, or what is expected from each employee.
She said the city needs to do a complete review of its departments to see if any of its 19 departments can be combined for efficiency purposes and determine why some of the department heads' salaries are higher than other cities that are the same size as Coeur d'Alene.
"I'm not all for slash and burn," she said. "I am very much in favor of having city employees being involved too. They work there. They know the inside workings."
Hebert, who has been widowed for seven years after 33 years of marriage, has a stepson, three grandchildren, and a great-grandchild living in the area. She said she fell in love with Cd'A when she first arrived, and she wants to make sure it remains the lovely place that it is.
"I am a very concerned citizen who is willing to step out of her very comfortable comfort zone of being a supporter and step up to be a public figure," she said. "I am a conservative alternative to the same old, same old."