EAST IDAHO ELECTS: 4 candidates running for Rexburg city council
REXBURG — City elections are getting underway throughout eastern Idaho, and there is a major city council election in Rexburg.
Three council seats are available. Two-term City Councilman Jordan Busby is up for re-election. Tisha Flora is completing her first term and is seeking re-election as well. Newcomers Robert Chambers and Bryanna Johnson will also be on the ballot.
Council President Sally Smith is not seeking re-election.
Also in Rexburg, incumbent Mayor Jerry Merrill is running against challenger Travis Brown.
City elections will be held Nov. 5.
Busby is seeking re-election to the city council because he loves being involved and feels his accomplishments over the last eight years have helped stay ahead of growth in the city.
Upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, along with the purchase of more water rights and the installation of a two million gallon water reservoir in Burton are among his proudest achievements.
“As we look at the growth that is coming, we have to look into the future 10 or 20 years,” Busby tells EastIdahoNews.com. “I’d like to continue on with what we started. We’re also involved in the airport relocation, and so I want to be able to help follow that through.”
Helping residents to embrace growth and change is an important aspect of managing growth, Busby says. As the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus expands, it’s important the city helps keep development close to campus, while still allowing for the annual influx of students to impact the entire community.
Busby says his 17 years of experience as a public school administrator make him uniquely qualified to address these challenges.
“I know many of the parents (in Madison School District),” says Busby. “I’m an easy listener. I’m able to problem solve, and as an administrator, you have to be proactive, rather than reactive. So we’re looking at those ways … to be proactive.”
Busby currently works as the facilities director with Madison School District. Previously, he was the principal of Hibbard and Burton Elementary. He served as the principal of Lincoln Elementary before becoming the vice-principal at Madison High School.
“Serving the people of Rexburg is a great opportunity. There are lots of people that are smarter, better looking, and maybe more qualified. But you will never find anybody who is going to work harder than Jordan Busby,” he says. “I hope I have the opportunity of being elected for another term.”
He and his wife, Melanie, have lived in Rexburg for 17 years. They have seven children and eight grandchildren.
Tisha Flora has spent the last four years speaking with every department in the city to learn how things are going and what obstacles they are facing. She wants to serve another term to help move the city’s plans and ideas forward.
“Our existing park equipment is 25 years old and it’s rusty and we have metal exposure,” says Flora. “Over the last year, we’ve created a 10-year parks plan and I want to continue working towards that.”
Flora is also passionate about maintenance and safety of city streets. She feels her participation on many different committees and boards has given her great experience to continue addressing these issues going forward.
“When I see a need, I find a way to (address) that need. I just want to use my existing knowledge to continue to help these departments,” she says.
Flora’s proudest achievement over the last four years is the new playground equipment and other improvements made to Park Street Park. She hopes to continue bridging the gap between the city and its citizens.
“The most enjoyable thing for me is helping people understand why the city does things the way they do, but also helping them to feel heard,” she says. “It’s important to educate our citizens and work with them. Our population is our best resource.”
Flora and her husband, Jason, are the parents of six children.
As an 8-year resident of Rexburg, Chambers is pleased with what the city is doing and wants to be involved.
“As I’ve met with city department heads and as I’ve looked at the city’s operation, I just think it’s a marvelous organization. They’re innovative. They’re cost-effective. They’re stingy with their funds in a good way. I’m not running to try and fix (anything). I’m running because I want to be part of that organization.”
Chambers served two-terms on Pocatello’s city council when he was a college student at Idaho State University 34 years ago. He currently teaches Religious Education at BYU-Idaho. One of the challenges currently facing Rexburg, according to Chambers, is managing growth. His prior experience makes him uniquely qualified to address that, he says.
“For 16 years, I was the director of planning and development services for the city of Pocatello. One of the things we did that I thought was very effective is we took all of the land within city boundaries and we did a build-out analysis.”
The analysis helped Chambers to see what land development would like based on the zoning laws at that time. He says it provided a unique perspective on where to focus growth and how to make that happen.
“Part of it is determining the right place for development, where it can thrive and making that happen. Let business do the rest,” says Chambers.
Downtown Rexburg is still the commercial focus of Rexburg, Chambers says, and it’s important to keep it that way.
“Keeping it the center of chaos, where people can come and enjoy…a hustling, bustling, entrepreneurial-centered, commercial center for the city — I’m really a proponent of that, making sure there is ample parking, making sure businesses are cared for. I think that’s part of our secret to managing growth.”
Chambers and his wife, Robin, have five children and 15 grandchildren.
Johnson has never run for public office before, but she loves getting involved civically. She currently serves as the PTO president at her son’s school and serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
On that committee, she’s helped the city plan for a dog park. She was also involved in creating the 10-year parks plan.
Johnson regularly attends city council meetings and feels women are underrepresented, which is one reason she decided to run.
One of the things she wants to focus on is making Rexburg more business-friendly.
“As I’ve gone around talking to people door-to-door, everybody has said they’re interested in seeing more business come to Rexburg,” Johnson says. “A lot of the families I’ve talked to really wish there were more recreational opportunities.”
Johnson says she wants to help the city with their plans to expand the trail system and the number of parks. She’d also like to see more indoor recreation as well.
“I’m interested in the future for my children. I think I have the drive to work to get some things done. I want my children to have jobs here if they choose to stay. I have a desire to put forth the work to resolve some of these issues,” Johnson says.
Johnson and her husband, Jon Paul, are the parents of three boys.