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Mike Krehbiel challenging incumbent Layne Gardner for Blackfoot City Council

East Idaho Elects

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BLACKFOOT – Two candidates are vying for a seat on Blackfoot’s City Council.

Mike Krehbiel is challenging incumbent candidate Layne Gardner. sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.

Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.

Gardner: I graduated from Blackfoot High School and from Brigham Young University in Provo. I have been married to Melanie Gardner for 39 years. We have four children.

My wife and I are retired educators. I taught Literature and Composition for 33 years at Blackfoot High school and as an adjunct professor at Idaho State University. I coached track for 26 years, and I officiated high school basketball for 38 years.

I own apartments in Blackfoot. I have been on the Blackfoot City Council for nine years. I am also a member of the Blackfoot Rotary Club.

Krehbiel: I was born and raised in Aberdeen and moved to Blackfoot in 1989 to start a construction and custom manufacturing company. In 1995, I purchased the property at 305 South Broadway and rebuilt the building into what is it is currently. I also started Krehbiel auctions the same year. In 2010, I remodeled the facility to include Krehbiels Barn Event center, which I still own.

My past public duties and volunteer work include State of Idaho President of the U.S. Junior Chamber Organization, Executive Director for the Blackfoot Swimming Pool Association 1995-2000, City of Blackfoot Planning and Zoning Commission 1998 – 2000, serving as chairman for two years. I have served on numerous other organizations in several capacities.

What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?

Krehbiel: My proudest accomplishments in my personal life are my children. My greatest accomplishment in my career is being a self-employed business owner for the last 30+ years.

Gardner: Working 33 years as an educator was a very fulfilling career. I have enjoyed my time on the City Council with its varied challenges, but watching my children and grandchildren grow up, face life’s challenges, and learn from setbacks and from success has been exceptionally rewarding.

What are the greatest challenges facing your community?

Gardner: Just like all communities up and down the Snake River Valley, Blackfoot is faced with a myriad of challenges. Future growth is one such challenge. Having the proper infrastructure, such as access to clean, drinkable water, is a key part of this growth. Blackfoot needs to buy the water rights to be able to keep up with growth, and Blackfoot needs the proper infrastructure to be able to move this water to existing and new users.

Our infrastructure is old and needs to be updated. Unfortunately, it takes money to accomplish this goal. Existing users shouldn’t have to shoulder the whole cost of improving the infrastructure. New users should pay most of this cost.

Krehbiel: The greatest challenge in our community, as in all communities, is fiscal responsibility. People are assessed property taxes to be used for public safety and infrastructure (Fire, police, roads, sewer and water). This is the main purpose of government. These items need to be met before any other items are considered. Schools are assessed separately on taxes, so that is not the responsibility of city officials.

How is your experience better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than your competitor?

Krehbiel: I feel that I may be better suited on dealing with these unique challenges that
the city now faces because I have had to deal with the challenges of running a business in good financial times and bad for the last 30 years.

Gardner: Once I was initially appointed to the Blackfoot City Council, I found out that I had very little knowledge of how a city works. It took a while for me to gain the insight necessary to understand what has been required of me as a councilman, to understand my assignments, and to get to know the people that I work with and supervise. People make up the important part of what makes a good city. Blackfoot has good, caring people working in its various departments.

How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?

Gardner: I am willing to talk to people, but more importantly, I am willing to listen to both sides of an argument without getting emotionally involved with either side. I make every effort to make a decision or a vote based upon the facts, not based on emotion or hearsay.

Krehbiel: I will represent all constituents of the city by working to get them the best value for the money they pay in taxes, as noted in a previous question. The responsibility of government is to supply public safety and infrastructure. Differing political views do not change that goal.

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?

Krehbiel: My view of the media’s role is to report the facts about any issue. Some media outlets have decided to give their opinion of the issues. (That is an editorial). People are smart enough to decide how they feel about an issue if the facts are reported.

If I were to be elected, I would always be available to the media to give them the facts of any issue. If the media takes my facts and turns it into an opinion piece, I would no longer interview with that particular media source.

Gardner: Unfortunately, one of the losses of our internet age is the death of the five- or six-day-a-week paper where one knew the local editors or reporters. Now, most people turn to Facebook and Instagram for their news, which limits people’s points of view. I would like to see a reporter at every City Council meeting. We broadcast our council meetings via Zoom so that more people can stay informed about city issues.

What measures, if any, do you believe your city should implement amid continued COVID-19 concerns?

Gardner: I have been supportive of Mayor Carroll’s Covid-19 policies. If citizens would follow the guidelines of their personal physician to get one of the Covid-19 vaccines, the city of Blackfoot, Bingham County, and the state of Idaho wouldn’t have to implement any mandatory Covid policies.

Krehbiel: Covid -19 has been an issue nationwide for nearly two years. Vaccines are now
available and free to anyone that wants one. This should no longer be a government issue. The US Constitution gives people the right to decide for themselves. If people feel uncomfortable about the virus, they are welcome to continue to wear masks and receive the vaccine. This is also their right. I do not feel it is the government’s responsibility to mandate to people what they need to do about their own medical decisions.

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?

Krehbiel: If the city received a multimillion-dollar grant, the first thing I would ask is, “how much in matching funds do the city taxpayers have to come up with?” Many of these government grants have resulted in tax increases for the local taxpayers. But if it was a no-matching funds grant, I would want to spend it on public safety and infrastructure. As I have stated in a previous question, THAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT.

Gardner: I would use a multimillion-dollar grant to either put in an overpass to help alleviate Blackfoot’s frustrating train crossing problem (anyone living in Blackfoot knows about the trains) or to rebuild the infrastructure under and the surface of a good number of city streets.