We are united by our community, values

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Shelby Rognstad

Sandpoint is a community characterized by engaged citizenship. With over 300 registered non-profits, ours is a community of people who care. This is something to be proud of and celebrate. We are a community characterized by innovation. There are over 1000 business licenses in Sandpoint. This speaks to our collective entrepreneurship, independence and can-do attitude. There are numerous companies unique to Sandpoint that have invented products and produced goods that advance their industry and are used all over the world.

Engaged citizenship also shows up in our shared values. Sandpoint residents value environmental preservation. We choose to live here because we enjoy nature, wildlife, open space and outdoor recreation. We understand that water quality is critical to our collective well-being. Thatís why I support a wastewater facility plan that goes above and beyond our permit requirements. Thatís why led our cityís opposition to the proposed Silicon Smelter.

Sandpoint residents value a responsive government that protects our human rights. Through the decades we have repeatedly been threatened by white nationalism and we have banded together to protect our region from hate and have driven these movements and their leaders out of our community. I have championed human rights issues, challenging racism and bigotry in North Idaho and will continue to be a strong voice for social equity and justice. Under my leadership, the city has initiated the Mayorís Roundtable, Engage Sandpoint and Opentownhall, and Open Gov transforming public engagement and making government more accessible, more responsive and more efficient than ever before.

Sand-point residents value quality of life. We look each other in the eye and say ďhiĒ when passing on the sidewalk. As neighbors, we help each other because we recognize that we are in this together. We know that kindness is where quality of life starts. I have worked strategically with my leadership team to initiate the Watershed Crest Trail, the Parks Master Plan, the downtown waterfront initiative, the Sandpoint trail network, and the cityís first Arts and Culture Plan. Together, we are staying engaged to ensure quality of life for all residents.

Sandpoint residents value affordability. It takes hard work and ingenuity to make a livelihood in Sandpoint. We are fortunate to have a well-diversified economy. Yet many people have more than one job to make ends meet. To address this issue, the Short Term Rental Ordinance was initiated under my leadership in 2017 which protected the long term rental market in Sandpoint, keeping rental prices in check while at the same time giving home owners the flexibility to get extra rental income from their homes. The 2009 Comprehensive Plan, which I helped steer, was the single most significant change to city development that reduced housing pressures by increasing density and housing stock to reduce housing costs.

Now is the time for us to remember our values, to remember that we all care about our community and we want the best for Sandpoint. We all want the best for our children and our grandchildren. We may have different ideas about how to get there, but we all have a piece of the solution.

Now is also the time to stop spreading lies and divisive rhetoric on social media. Misinformation posted online can be propagated without correction or recourse. There are those who intend to do our community harm, who actively use online forums to divide us amongst ourselves for the purpose of destroying our sense of commonality. This division prevents us from solving big problems that require consensus and partnership. This toxic behavior is inappropriate and un-civil and it tears at the social fabric of our community.

That is why it is critical that we come together around our shared values and remind each other of our commonality and our humanity. Letís remember why we love our community and why we choose to live here. Letís remember we are all on the same team.

Please join me at the Mayorís Roundtable this Friday, 8 a.m. at Cedar St. Bistro in the Cedar St. Bridge where we discuss our shared values and community engagement.

Shelby Rognstad is the mayor of Sandpoint. He can be reached at mayor@sandpointidaho.gov.

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