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Ex-newspaper editor will run for council seat

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Stop the presses.

As the deadline for filing in the Nov. 5 election fast approaches, former Tribune Managing Editor Claire Fortier announced Monday her intention to run in the crowded South Lake Tahoe City Council race.

She has until 4 p.m. Wednesday to file and qualify.



Fortier, who ran the newspaper’s editorial department from 1993 to 1997, has worked as the chief operating officer of Sierra Family Care since March 2001.

The 49-year-old South Shore resident wants to build a platform on the future economy for Tahoe and city government accountability to its citizenry.



“I’m tired of what is perceived to be this sense that not all parts of the community are represented,” Fortier said.

“The perception becomes more accentuated as some of the city’s most pressing issues arise, such as those related to the city’s finances and the Lake Tahoe Airport.”

Fortier described herself as a longtime supporter of the airport, but she thinks a new evaluation that involves an old idea may be necessary to move South Lake Tahoe into the next century.

“I think the old idea of the airport as a transportation center is a good idea,” she said, adding that the property and its role in community safety is also valuable.

She’s also open to the airport as a future site for city offices, as the second choice to property next to Campground By The Lake.

Fortier stressed the importance of the community moving forward in its vision.

“We are not the same town as five years ago. We’re not the mom and pop operation we’re used to having, but we’re acting as if we are,” she said, pointing to what the corporate base, Vail Resorts, and the casinos across the state line bring to the table.

Take the economy.

Fortier believes community leaders and residents should think seriously about creating a secondary economy to build on the tourism base.

“And we can do it without inviting industry,” she said.

She cited the California town of Mendocino’s effort to reinvent itself by blending its tourism base with a renewed interest in building an artists’ community.

Fortier has a unique background in tourism as the managing editor at newspapers in three such towns — South Lake Tahoe, Williamsburg, Va., and Jackson Hole, Wyo.

“In tourist towns, there’s always the issue of space,” she said, defining one as balancing natural resources and development.

Fortier advocates working within the confines of redevelopment, since the path has already been set.

“Right now, it’s ludicrous to be anti-redevelopment. We have to work from within the corporate environment,” she said.

“Changes through the years dictate a review of policies and plans.”

For example, vacation home rentals represents a complex issue that may have resulted in weak zoning codes,” she said.

“People have the right to peace and quiet in their homes,” Fortier said.

The nine-year resident of Tahoe has served on boards with the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce, AIDS Task Force, Lake Tahoe Boys & Girls Club and the United Way.

“This is one of the most intriguing communities I’ve ever lived in because so few people are born and raised here. Most people come here with whole other lives,” she said.

That includes Fortier.

The Old Dominion University graduate has worked 25 years as a journalist, highlighted by an international story on a hunger strike out of Belfast, Ireland.

Fortier finds her new interest in local politics intriguing because she’s always remained in a reactive state compared to those on the front lines who make policy.

She admits to being an avid critic.

“I can sure dish it out and tell people how to run their lives. Now it’s payback time,” she said.


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