Coles Says He Would Consider Drug Czar Job

Coles Says He Would Consider Drug Czar Job
Posted by FoM on January 18, 2001 at 08:16:41 PT
By Gene Fadness, The Idaho Statesman 
Source: Idaho Statesman
If he's asked to become George W. Bush's drug czar, Brent Coles will have a difficult time saying no. The Boise mayor says he hasn't applied or interviewed for the job and doesn't know whether he wants it. But listening to him Wednesday, rattling off a number of drug-fighting approaches and then laying out how a drug czar could coordinate those approaches and deliver federal help, could lead one to believe Coles is thinking seriously about a move to Washington, D.C. 
"First of all, I have not been interviewed for the job," Coles said in an interview from Washington. "But would I consider moving myself to Washington, D.C.? If the president of the United States calls, I would have to consider it." A spokeswoman for the Bush-Cheney transition office wouldn't confirm Wednesday whether Coles is being considered for the post, or when the president-elect might make an announcement. Coles confirmed, however, that a number of organizations have submitted his name to the Bush team. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has been in contact with the Bush transition office several times over the past month. But he's home in Idaho Falls this week, and has not heard from the Bush team about Coles. Crapo said he expects to hear from the transition office next week. "I don't know what the time frame is for picking the drug czar, but I'm sure we'll have time to express our support for Mayor Coles," Crapo said Wednesday. Efforts to reach Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who's been consulted by the transition team on other appointments, were not successful. Crapo grew up with Coles in the same Idaho Falls neighborhood. The Boise mayor would be a good fit for the job, he said. "He's already received national recognition for his efforts to reduce drugs," Crapo said. Boise City Council President Carolyn Terteling-Payne woke up Wednesday to a 6:15 a.m. phone call from a radio newsman asking her how she felt about the idea of becoming mayor. "It scared me at first," she said, fearing something had happened to Coles. That call was the first of several Wednesday among council members and Coles in response to a Statesman story. If Coles were to resign as mayor to take an administration post, Terteling-Payne probably would be acting mayor until the November election. "As council president, I have always been filling in for the mayor, and I intend to continue doing that until whatever happens, happens," Terteling-Payne said. Councilman Mike Wetherell is president pro tem of the council, by virtue of being the longest-serving member. He said council members could vote among themselves to elect an acting mayor to serve until November. But Terteling-Payne said she doesn't expect the council to be divided on who should be acting mayor. The council was divided the last time a mayor resigned. Council President Sara Baker served as acting mayor while then-Mayor Dirk Kempthorne was on a leave of absence to campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1992. After Kempthorne was elected and resigned as mayor, the council elected then-Councilman Brent Coles over Baker. Councilwoman Paula Forney detects a mood among most council members to stick with Terteling-Payne until the election, should Coles resign. "That would be my inclination. She's done a great job as council president and seems to have the time," Forney said. Terteling-Payne said she hasn't entertained the notion of running for mayor. "I think it's important to keep things stable, keep things running until an election can occur. But beyond that, I haven't thought about running. It's never been in my master plan." If she did run and was successful, she'd be the first woman elected mayor after 44 men. But all this is mere speculation that hinges on what happens with Coles. The mayor is in Washington this week, presiding over the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. And while talking about how he believes his approach to fighting drugs will save neighborhoods, he was getting the news that another of his efforts to preserve neighborhoods was being quashed by a federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill threw out Boise's anti-nudity ordinance, a measure supported by the mayor to ban nude dancing in the city. Sticking to his belief in the federal government encouraging local solutions to drug-fighting, Coles said the drug czar is in a position to coordinate programs by local governments and non-profits. He doesn't buy the view of some critics that the government and previous drug czars have been ineffective in curbing illegal drug use. "Cities have found programs that make a difference," Coles said. "We know the basics, that drug treatment and prevention is essential; so is law enforcement, treatment in the prisons and drug-free workplaces. " "There's no question, the drug czar has had an impact. But there's a long way to go, and a lot of work to do."Contact Gene at 377-6416 or gfadness Note: Boise mayor's name given to Bush team.Source: Idaho Statesman, The (ID) Author: Gene Fadness, The Idaho Statesman Published: Thursday, January 18, 2001Address: Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 40, Boise ID 83707 Copyright: 2001 The Idaho Statesman Fax: (208) 377-6449 Contact:  editorial boise.gannett.comWebsite Related Articles:Activist Suggests Johnson for Drug Czar Right Stuff - Arianna Huffington
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