BONNERS FERRY — Tell the mayor, “Congratulations on the election win,” and you might receive his comedic reply of, “or condolences.”
But in all seriousness, Bonners Ferry Mayor Dick Staples has attended two meetings thus far in office and has found a nice reception from his fellow council members and city employees.
The Nov. 5 mayoral race was very close. Former mayor David Sims lost the race by only two votes to current mayor Staples. Staples was found to be the winner of the election after an Attorney General’s Office recount confirmed the win on Nov. 19.
“I was fortunate to have a lot of help with my campaign,” said Staples. “I’d like to thank my good friend, Dave Anderson, for his advice and direction, and especially my wife Melanie, who just kept asking, “What else can I do?” and, of course, those who voted for me — thank you.”
A business owner of JRS Surveying Inc., and Bonners Ferry resident for over 30 years, the mayor reported that he has never worked in the public sector nor has ever held political office.
Staples explained, “I didn’t have some vision on things I wanted to change, it’s a volunteer job, I really feel that way.”
“I feel like I have a lot to learn,” said Staples. “Fortunately, I know most of the staff at the City and know that we are rich in dedicated and knowledgeable employees. That, in itself, will make my job a whole lot easier. I walk in there with 20 questions and they give me 20 answers, they’re great about that.
Folks visiting the mayor at the city office these days may also be greeted by Wilson.
Wilson, a half-Newfoundland and half-golden retriever, enjoys accompanying Mayor Staples to varied meetings at the city office. He has been named the mayor’s Chief Advisor, per Mayor Staples.
When discussing some of the more pressing projects and plans that lie ahead for the city of Bonners Ferry, Staples has a long-term idea.
“What do you leave behind? What is this place going to be like 10-20 years from now?” said Staples.
“Boundary County, Bonners Ferry, is this unique, little pocket of heaven, and I would love to leave it that way, but what you really need to look at is growth and infrastructure. It’s going to grow no matter if you like it or not. Having a vision for that infrastructure is really important,” said Staples.
Mayor Staples would also like to build upon the relationships between Boundary County, Moyie Springs, and the City of Bonners Ferry.
“It’s important to have a good connection with other administrators in the county and the City of Moyie, and try to blend all that together so we all get going in the same direction,” said Staples.
He plans on getting everyone going in the same direction by organizing a few meetings throughout the year to meet with Boundary County commissioners and the city council members of the City of Moyie to discuss common goals and various projects and “things” that can be done together.
Concerning what he would envisions his accomplishments will be at the end of his four-year term, Mayor Staples considered the local infrastructure.
“I would love to be able to walk away with the infrastructure to be going in a better direction, even if it’s at the end of the four years just having a plan that’s going to be completed in whatever length of time,” said Staples.
As for right now, the mayor said he is focused on learning his new role and in further getting to know the city employees.
“The whole staff seems to have a willingness to take on or accept whatever responsibility you throw at them, and I didn’t know that. I knew the people, but I didn’t know who they really were until I started working with them and that’s what I’m seeing, a willingness to take things on,” said Staples.
Mayor Staples will be writing an opinion column for the Bonners Ferry Herald, and plans to focus much of the initial column information on the Moyie Dam repairs.
The next City Council meeting is Feb. 18, and the public is encouraged to attend.