City Council Applicants Introduced at Monday Meeting
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Fourteen applicants vying for a seat on the City Council were introduced at the council meeting on Monday.
Each applicant had two minutes to introduce themselves and pitch why they want to serve. They then took time to field questions from the mayor and existing council members.
Seat 6, currently filled by Councilman Don Hall, will be vacant once he resigns in January due to his being elected to a seat on the County Commission. The mayor, with approval from the council, will appoint Hall's replacement.
I was hoping that some of you would blow it tonight to make this a little easier,” Mayor Shawn Barigar said. “I wish we had 20 places on the council so you could all be a part of it.
Hall asked the applicants what their views were on economic development. The answers from the applicants varied, but after each had spoken Mayor Shawn Barigar said it would be a tough decision for him to recommend a candidate to the council.
“I was hoping that some of you would blow it tonight to make this a little easier,” he said, noting that all of the applicants are worthy to have a seat on the council. “I wish we had 20 places on the council so you could all be a part of it.”
He said he will review information gleaned at the meeting and make his recommendation at an upcoming meeting.
Councilwoman Suzanne Hawkins expressed appreciation to the applicants, but also to the area residents who attended the meeting in an effort to learn about those who are pitching for the seat.
Hall said the meeting for him felt a little like attending his own funeral, since the chosen candidate will replace him on the council. Only one will be appointed, he said, but he encouraged the rest to stay involved with the community.
The applicants’ complete cover letters to the mayor can be located on the city’s website, but below are brief overviews of each of the 14 who applied for Seat 6:
Ann Beck has lived in Twin Falls for only two years, but claims to “love and really appreciate this community,” she said. She’s worked in banking in Texas, wrote for a community newspaper in New Jersey, lived for a time in the Netherlands, and currently owns a small business in Twin Falls. “Through all these experiences I have seen and been involved in the growing pains of different communities and living here I cannot help but notice Twin and its growing pains and potential problems, as well as what an amazing future that is here.”
“I am proud to say that I was born, raised, and educated in Twin Falls,” says candidate Robert Beer. “Other than a few short years when I lived in other cities I have lived here my entire life.” His career has been in the construction industry, and has been involved with many projects in the Magi Valley. He also served on the Public Works Licensing Board from 1999 to 2007, was chairman from 2006 to 2007, and claims it “was a very enlightening experience.” He says he has “no axes to grind, no agendas or any preconceived notions and I am not linked, tied or beholden to anyone who does. My desire is to become a member of your already successful team and continue to strive to make Twin Falls the best place in America to live.”
Neil Christensen, who is currently serving on the city’s Urban Renewal Agency, says he’s lived in Twin Falls for about 10 years and that the community has proved “an exceptional place” to raise his family and “run a successful business.” He enjoys the quality of life here and helping to make the community a more vibrant place to live and work. He’s served as Kiwanis Club president, ran for city council, and says because of his work with the URA that he has experience as well as “drive, investment and commitment,” to be a successful councilman. “I will be able to hit the ground running,” he said.
“I have always tried to be involved in the local community,” says candidate Matthew D. Coleman, who currently is a teacher at Twin Falls High School. “As a teacher I believe it is vital that teachers role-model the importance of being involved in the community and share these experiences with students. I was also principal in Wallace, Idaho, and so I have the experience of leadership and working with many different entities.” He has worked on the Wallace Planning and Zoning, Silver Valley Hoops Planning Committee, and the Silver Valley Child Abuse Task Force. “I am excited about the direction that Twin Falls is going and would like the opportunity to help be a part of the growth and guide the direction the community is going.”
Craig Hawkins has lived in the community for the past 18 years, and says while here he’s served on the Community Emergency Response Team, Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity and in local Scouting. He also is a local business owner. Since retiring from Grocery Outlet in 2016, he says he is seeking other ways to be involved with the community. “An area of strength is the ability to develop positive working relationships with all types of personalities,” he says. “Through this opportunity to serve, it will allow me to give back to the community I have grown to love and has become my home.”
“Since service on the City Council has always been something I have dreamed of doing, I have until recently been busy working with youth,” says Twin Falls native Karlan Jensen, who says she’s spent much of her time helping at-risk youth. She’s worked as the executive director of the Community Crisis Center in Carson City, Nev., worked in Child Protection or the Department of Health and Welfare in Jerome County, and as executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Magic Valley. She now works for the CASA program as its Independent Living coordinator. “So as you can see, working with the issues that face this community has always been dear to my heart as so many of those said issues affect our families and our children,” she says.
John Kapeleris says that by appointing him to the City Council “Twin Falls will gain a dedicated family man with six children, a service-oriented Army Veteran, and a fiscal conservative who actively seeks out the best solutions to problems.” Work includes promoting senior citizens’ issues as a volunteer and a member of the Twin Falls Senior Center Board, an adjunct faculty member at the College of Southern Idaho in History and Political Science, and coordinating education issues with the Twin Falls School District. “If appointed I will continue to serve as an advocate for a community in which our youth, our families, our workers, our business owners, our seniors, in fact our entire population, can continue to thrive and enjoy a bright future,” he says.
“I have owned a successful business in Twin Falls for 15 years,” says Craig J. Manning. “I enjoy living in Twin Falls and participate in nearly all aspects of what Twin Falls offers. I enjoy helping others and have volunteered at the Parks and recreation Department and helped organize hundreds of volunteers for their service projects.” He says a shortened term in the council would be good for him to learn “the inner workings of our city government.”
Ron Maughan says that most of his life has been spent living within the city limits of Twin Falls. He once owned his own siding business before selling it and turning his attention to being a car salesman. “I have seen many changes in the city,” he says, “most of which I liked and some that I didn’t; agree with, but for the most part Twin Falls has continued to develop into the kind of community people like [to] be in to raise their children and grandchildren. I would like to share in that development and help the community to continue to blossom.”
“I believe I bring a strong background of experience in the realm of community service,” says candidate Jim O’Donnell. “I am familiar with the basic process of budgeting, planning, and operations of the city.” He says that over the years he’s attended many council meetings to learn more about council members’ duties on those evenings, and has been involved in activities that support the council. He’s been in community for 30 years, but also served as an Army officer, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. “Since moving to Twin Falls I have been committed to serving our community and would welcome the opportunity to once again serve in the role of a City Council member.”
Sherry Olsen-Frank says she has a “strong background in serving the public interest,” which includes two campaigns to serve on the City Council. “I think you may find that in addition to my financial background, my background in grassroots community involvement will be of benefit to the citizens of Twin Falls should I be selected to serve on the council.”
Christopher A. Reid, who currently is on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, says that experience has allowed him “to understand the comprehensive planning and infrastructure needs of the city as well as put me in touch with the wants and needs of the citizens of Twin Falls.” He’s also served as the co-chairman of the Citizens Committee for Wastewater Infrastructure and as a committee member for the new City Hall and Public Safety Complex. During the day he works as a banker, a skill set he believes would “greatly serve the council and therefore the community, especially regarding the city budget.”
After living for a time in North Dakota, Eric M. Smallwood decided to return to Twin Falls “because of my love for Idaho,” he says, “and because of the current overall economic wellbeing of the city and surrounding area.” Some of the issues on his mind include taking a look at the city’s main two one-way streets, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and developing a co-op grocery store. “Since moving back this summer I have attended every City Council meeting except where I was ill,’ he says. “I have met with members of the Council, numerous city staff, and Idaho Transportation Department, and local business owners to familiarize myself on certain issues and to discuss my ideas for improvement.”
“I have always believed that I have both an opportunity and the responsibility to serve others that work and live in our community,” says candidate Ken Wiesmore. He spent 37 years at Amalgamate Sugar Co., he says, and has been interested in serving on the City Council for many years. “As a parent of a first responder, I am committed to learning about and working to maximize first responders’ safety and effectiveness by the best use of the budget funds,” he says. “I am interested in finding ways of proactively preventing traffic and other accidents by improving city signs and signals as budget allows. I am interested in our city’s recycling and waste management to protect the land and people of Twin Falls.”