Kathleen Lewis is one of four candidates running to fill Pocatello council seat 4
POCATELLO — Current Pocatello City Council chair Heidi Adamson did not file for re-election for council seat number four.
Among the four candidates running to replace Adamson, who has filled the seat since 2006, are Kathleen Lewis, John Mansfield, John C. Ruth and Taylor Wood.
While EastIdahoNews.com sent all four candidates the same set of eight questions, Lewis was the only candidate to respond. To learn more about Lewis, read her unedited responses below. Candidates were asked to keep their answers to 250 words or fewer for each question.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
LEWIS: I have lived in Pocatello for over 50 years. My husband and I raised our family here and two of our children graduated from ISU. I worked at the Southeast Idaho Council of Governments (SICOG) for over thirty years. I began my career there as the Contracts Manager for the Area V Agency on Aging, then moved to Director of the Economic Development Division becoming the Executive Director of the organization in 1998. I have served on the Marshall Public Library Board of Trustees for ten years, two of those as chairperson. I served on the Pocatello Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, three as chairperson. I currently represent District V on the Idaho Transportation Public Transportation Advisory Council, holding the position of chair.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
LEWIS: One of my proudest accomplishments in my career was instilling a culture of collaboration and trust among the staff at SICOG. Our organization had fired the previous executive director and there was lack of trust and unsureness among the staff. I became executive director at this time and worked to reestablish a strong working relationship among the staff and a sense of unity and purpose. I also worked to balance and expand the organizations budget which was not healthy. Personally, though they are not accomplishments my children and grandchildren. I am proud of all they have accomplished.
What are the greatest challenges facing your community?
LEWIS: Lack of growth and economic development, affordable housing and a city budget that is not sustainable. Pocatello only grew 4.4% in ten years while other communities have seen a % of growth. Lack of economic development planning has impeded the growth of our community. We need to invest in the business we have, they are the bedrock of our economy. The city budget for this coming year is balanced by pulling from reserves. We cannot continue to dip into reserves to meet our fiscal obligations.
How is your experience better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than you competitor?
LEWIS: I provided economic development in the seven counties and cities in southeast Idaho. I understand the dynamics and have the tools to work with diverse groups working toward consensus. I am knowledgeable about city government, how it works and how budgets are created. I am familiar with the budgeting process and understand both various fund accounts, dedicated funds, long range budget planning and regulations regarding expenditures. I managed a nonprofit and its annual budget ensuring we were structural sound and met all state, federal and local regulations. I listen and work towards collaborative solutions. I have not received campaign funds from any group nor am I related to any city employee. This allows me the freedom to make decisions based on the good of the entire community.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
LEWIS: I have always worked in an arena with different views and approaches to decisions and issues. I have discovered that listening without presupposing is the best track to take. Differences enrich rather than detract. I do not have all the knowledge and answers and always seek input from others especially different perspectives. I would like to setup neighborhood meetings to hear from individuals regarding their concerns and to share with them what the city is doing and planning. I would meet with local businesses to listen to their ideas and needs.
What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering your city? How can you best work with local reporters to ensure coverage of the issues?
LEWIS: Establishing a positive working relationship with the media is valuable. Ensuring media outlets are informed of upcoming decisions, meetings, agenda items will assist the media in covering the city and making sure our residents stay informed on issues. Honesty and openness are key to working with the media and all citizens in the community.
What measures, if any, do you believe your city should implement amid continued COVID-19 concerns?
LEWIS: The city must stay actively informed regarding COVID-19. Participating in the weekly updates with Public Health and receiving input from our health care providers is important to have the most current and correct data. I think the city should encourage our citizens to get vaccinated and be aware of health risks.
If you received a multimillion dollar grant to use for the city in any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
LEWIS: First, I would review and evaluate the projected needs of our community. This could include infrastructure improvements or expansion, as well as other already identified needs. I would request input for our residents to determine what they see as priorities. It is critical that the residents be involved in this discussion especially if this amount of funding were available.