New mayor, council members take helm at Dalton Gardens

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When former Dalton Gardens mayor Jeff Fletcher and the four former council members turned their chairs over to a newly elected City Council last week, the former officials all left the building.

It wasn’t that they had washed their hands of city government.

On the contrary.

They just wanted the new members to have some breathing room.

“We didn’t want them to feel there were five sets of eyes on them, critiquing them,” Fletcher said. “It was a consensus. We agreed to let them do their thing.”

Fletcher, who was selected as mayor last spring following a no-confidence vote that ousted two Dalton Gardens council members and longtime mayor Steve Roberge in a recall election, had been in the top seat for nine months.

Citing personal and business obligations, Fletcher, a fire captain and medic for the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department, opted not to run in last November’s election to retain his seat.

The council he served with — all ousted at the polls in November — had solid achievements in a short time, Fletcher said.

They reached a consensus on a Fourth Street project, voting to turn down a grant to rebuild Dalton Gardens’s main thoroughfare after hearing from voters. They upgraded the city’s computer system and website, and they agreed to hang surveillance equipment in the city’s public places after a spate of vandalism.

“We did a lot of really good things,” Fletcher said Monday.

The new council, comprised of council president Robert Wuest, Aaron O‘Brien, Carrie Chase and Ray Craft, and the new mayor, Dan Edwards, took their places Thursday after attending a December workshop by the Idaho Association of Cities to inform them of meeting rules and regulations — the nuts and bolts of being in city office.

O’Brien said last week’s swearing in came 35 years after his grandfather was sworn in as a mayor in a different town.

“It’s definitely humbling,” O’Brien said.

Wuest said switching roles from being a voting resident to being among city officials that will be held accountable is a responsibility he’s glad to shoulder.

“It’s going to be all right,” Wuest said. “The city of Dalton Gardens, the residents, they voted and said they did not want to change the atmosphere of Dalton Gardens … I think that’s major.”

Dalton resident Dick Flugel is confident that the new council will listen to residents. All of them campaigned on a platform of keeping Dalton a rural community that favors pedestrians, bicycles and horseback riders. Much of the city includes large pastured lots conducive to raising horses, and the city sports a public riding arena.

“It was time for a change,” Flugel said. “They have a lot of work ahead of them, and it will take time to get up to speed.”

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at City Hall, 6360 N. Fourth St.

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