To watch VIDEOS of Candidate Forum nights on October 19 and 21, scroll to the end of this article.
In the hopes of helping the residents of Twin Falls make an informed decision regarding who to vote for on November 2, we recently reached out to all nine candidates running for City Council seats 1 and 5 in Twin Falls. We also reached out to Chris Reid who is running unopposed for his current seat. We asked them all the same questions and made sure to let them know that failure to respond would reflect negatively on them. If these candidates won’t take time to respond to a constituent when they are seeking our votes, they most likely will not respond to emails when elected. Chris Reid, who is the incumbent and running unopposed, did not feel it necessary to respond to our repeated emails. We also reached out to Jason Brown, and Spencer Cutler three times. They refused to reply.
Please find the full text of our email questionnaire below.
I have a few questions I am asking all candidates. These questions will be the same to all. Also I will be sharing your response on my social media platform.
1. What is your knowledge on Urban Renewal? Do you think Urban Renewal is a benefit or a strain to our community?
2. Do you think the City Manager should be and elected seat? And would you support making this position an elected seat?
3. With Twin Falls being a welcoming city, would you include this welcoming to our unborn and help in removing planned parenthood from our community?
I appreciate your time in answering these questions. I also would like you to know that when I share the results of every candidate answers will be copied and pasted word for word. If I do not get a response that will be shared as well as a refusal to respond.
Twin Falls Resident
What follows are the candidate’s responses – word for word. It’s up to you to decide which of them best fits your values.
1. My understanding is the URA uses funds and input from the public and city to pick areas in the city to work on. This could be to redesign and area of town, complete projects, that maybe the city wouldn’t normally do as a form or service, and maybe bring business back to forgotten areas of town. I think the URA so far has helped the community.
2. I think the city manager should stay how it is. I wouldn’t support making it an elected position.
3. My understanding with communicating with the city attorney is that currently the city can’t shut down or remove Planned Parenthood or take ordinance action against them without support from the state or federal level or without more evidence that would allow the city to regulate or shut down Planned Parenthood. If the higher levels of government allowed or if planned parenthood conducted itself in a way that allowed it to be regulated by the city then I would allow discussion and options to be presented.
Greetings and peace Glenneda. I appreciate your time and interest in those who may represent you.
1. I did not know what urban renewal was. I have done a little research and find it wanting. It seems to be bureaucratic tinkering and not in line with a free market.
2. I wouldn’t be opposed to the city manager position being elected but I don’t think our state law title 50-811 would allow for this. I do, however, think that our city manager ought not have emergency powers of our city code (seen in chapter 5) due to the position not being an elected one, which exempts him from any repercussions if he abuses these powers. Instead, I would rather see the wording be unambiguous, like requiring a (true) death rate of 25% and only quarantine the sick.
3. Yes, contrary to the motto of our age, I don’t believe it to be the right of any person to murder another person. I believe these children to be made in the image of the Almighty God who have all the same rights as a birthed person. I so strongly believe this to be murder that other Christians and I have stood on the side walk outside Planned Parenthood calling these women and men to repentance and offering to adopt their children. Thank you for your questions and if there be any further questions or clarifications you’d want I would be happy to answer. Oh, and on question 2), I would want all the emergency powers to be reserved to the City Council and only to be enacted by a majority vote
Question #1: Urban Renewal. I am serving on the Twin Falls Planning & Zoning Commission and the current Vice Chairman of the Commission and have decided on some projects presented by the Urban Renewal Agency in the City. The Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency has some important projects coming up that could change the face of downtown and potential help small business downtown — if it is executed correctly. Urban Renewal’s goal was eliminating substandard housing, constructing adequate housing, reducing De Facto Segregation, and revitalizing city economies. This goal still has purpose and can be useful in the correct application. Urban Renewal’s Policy: Urban Renewal is a process where privately owned properties within a designated renewal area are purchased or taken by Eminent Domain by Municipal redevelopment authority, razed, and then reconveyed to selected developers who devote them to other uses. The policy in is definition can be flawed, and has failed in some areas due to corruption or poor application and making the area too dense causing crime etc. One point I disagree with is the Eminent Domain. I believe in preserving private property rights. Eminent Domain is often used quickly before fair negotiations are pursued. All purchased options and general compromise should be pursued before Eminent Domain. There are parts of Urban Renewal I believe in: helping small business, providing affordable housing, habitation of abandoned areas, but it must have some oversight from residents within the city.
Question #2: City Manager Question #3 The city of Twin Falls is a Council-Manager style of government. It can combine strong political leadership of the elected officials in the form of City Council and a strong managerial experience of an appointed local government. Right now, the combination of elected officials and appointed managers hired by the city seems to work well for Twin Falls, this does not mean everything is going correctly and there is always room for improvement. Many cities in the United States operate in this style of government including the Phoenix, Arizona. I believe there could be more oversight or input from residents, more accessibility to government that this style of does not afford. Eventually I believe this style of government may change in the City of Twin Falls as I hear more residents are asking for a more traditional elected Mayor and City Council style. This one is tough one for me as I see the merits of both styles and the problems as well. Right now, I am interested in keeping the current style but am willing to research and investigate the alternatives. It the citizens of the City of Twin Falls want to pursue a different style it is the duty of the elected officials to be transparent enough to listen and pursue the will of the people.
Question #4: Planned Parenthood: This is a tough question about City Council positions, the State of Idaho is a Dillon Rule State, meaning these issues cannot be decided at the City Council level, they must be decided at the legislative level. Although City Council cannot make any decisions regarding this issue it still is great for citizens to bring forward their concerns to be heard and help provide a welcoming environment to their city.
I appreciate you reaching out to me and giving me the opportunity to answer your questions on your platform.
1. Urban Renewal I think can be a really great thing. I remember when the downtown area of Twin Falls, felt very sad and ghost-like. No real character drawing people in. Nothing bringing the community together, just old buildings that were falling apart. When they started revitalizing downtown there were some things I was not really happy with. I did not like tearing down old historical buildings taking with it the nostalgia of old Twin Falls. While I absolutely am on board to repurpose and revitalize these buildings and make the downtown area one with fun energy and people interacting, I would like to find a balance between the old and new. Keeping some of the original charm and energy of our roots while bringing us into the future. Done right, I think Urban Renewal can really help bring our city into the 21st century and give us all something we can really be proud of. Main Street charm is really the heart of any community. New sidewalks are needed and there are still a few buildings that need a facelift. I think creating a uniform flow and appeal to the entire street will go a really long way. There is still a lot to do.
2. Yes, I do think the City Manager should be an elected seat. I feel the manager has a lot of power that is given by the City Council and that power should probably be given by the people to the person they feel is the best fit for the job. I would support this being an elected seat.
3. This question is a complicated one that probably will never have an answer everyone will agree on or be happy with. It’s a very difficult decision and one I would never wish for any woman to have to face, especially alone. Of course, we can say “Well, you shouldn’t have done this” or “You should have done that differently”, but the reality of the situation is we just do not know what we would do until we are faced with the un-faceable. It is not the father that will live with the consequences. It is the mother. According to U.S. Census records, 80% of single parents are mothers. One in five men will be single parents usually due to the mother dying or the mother being unfit to raise a child…..unfit to care for herself at the basic level. The majority of the burden of raising a child falls squarely on the mother’s shoulders from the moment she realizes she is pregnant and even by society’s standards long before that, because it is considered her fault for having sex and getting pregnant, even with measures in place to try to avoid that.
Carrying a child for 9 months through adulthood is a massive responsibility that often she carries alone. We like to think single mothers just want to keep kids from their fathers after a split, but many times severe abuse, sexual, domestic violence, alcohol and drug-related abuse, infidelity, all play a huge role in the failure of a family unit. It is often the mother that has to find a way out of those circumstances not only for her own safety but also for her children’s. These are not always foreseeable until after the fact. Sometimes….most times, it’s not as easy as “just don’t have sex” especially in abusive relationships. The mental manipulation that occurs is not something you can truly understand until it’s experienced first hand and even then you don’t even fully understand what is happening until you are in boiling water. Most women do not even know how dangerous their situation really is until it’s a full-blown emergency. Kids are often used by abusers to make a woman stay. Threatening to take the kids away from them if they leave, and since most women are not the breadwinners, they do not want to go to court, so they get pulled back in just wanting to be loved by their partner, and really to just not experience a much worse situation than they are already living.
In other cases, the father can just up and leave without notice and without having to take any long-term responsibility. Many times running from even child support obligations. It is not easy for women with children to get an education or find adequate employment and affordable housing and childcare, without involving state assistance. Once in that cycle, it is very difficult to get out of, battling stigmas on her character the entire time with no concern of the impact on her mental health until something terrible happens and then it’s just a tragedy everyone acts like they didn’t see coming.
It is easy to tell others what we think they should do, but living with that decision is never something we will ever have to do. Our opinions on what others should do, do not change the fact there are various circumstances surrounding others’ lives we know nothing about. Domestic Violence, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, mental health issues, all of these factors create extreme and terrible circumstances, for not only women but children as well. Children that didn’t ask to be put in that situation, but are living it every day. I have seen firsthand the lives of foster care children taken from homes that were abusive and neglectful. Moved from temporary home to home with nothing more than a garbage bag to bring the only possessions they own for an average of 1-2 years. Many fall through the cracks or even time out of the system at 18. Kids standing on the outside of the fence watching other kids play sports or living normal lives that children do, asking themselves why they don’t deserve love? Why they don’t deserve a family that cares about them or a bed to call their own? I have had to advocate for children whose parents were not only not fit to care for themselves, but clearly should not have had children. Trauma often creates more trauma and until the cycle is broken, the cycle continues. I have seen children with alcohol dependency as an infant and children with severe developmental issues because the mother was addicted to meth and continued use through pregnancy. I have seen the pain in an 8-year-olds eyes as she tells me of the night she was taken from her home. Watching from her bed, as her stepfather purposely stepped on her mother’s hand to break her fingers and stepping back onto her kitten and killing it in front of her. That same child’s eyes when her mother missed the only supervised visitation she had….on her child’s birthday, no father in sight to take over the role. No call, no show, no explanation, with my foster child waiting eagerly. That pain I wish on no child. This was the third child the mother had removed from her home and her rights terminated.
I know this is a long answer, but I truly feel this question is so much more complicated than a simple yes or no. I would prefer no one be faced with that decision.
In a perfect world, two people would fall in love, get married, have kids, live happily ever after with no issues whatsoever. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Some situations I do not pretend to know what is best and will not be paying those consequences. It is not my call to make or my judgment. In 2020, 2.9 million kids in the United States had no mother or father. 424,000 kids were in foster care. Some of them went back home, others the parental rights were terminated. I would really love to find homes for those kids. The kids that go to sleep at night just wanting a warm home to love them. I want them to feel welcomed. I would like to see adoption more affordable and remove unnecessary obstacles in place for possible adopted parents to be able to welcome older kids into their homes. Not just newborns. I feel there is a huge population of children that are thrown out simply because they are not an infant and I find that incredibly sad and heartbreaking.
I appreciate this opportunity. I realize many will think my answer is a terrible one, but from my experience and what I have seen firsthand, children that have been forgotten in a system not built for the human spirit is something we absolutely have to do something about. This is an overwhelming emergency we can’t continue to ignore.
I appreciate every single one of you for giving me your time. Thank you so much!
Great questions, Glenneda! I have enjoyed meeting and talking to you a few years ago, this is my 3rd time running for City Council. I have received great questions from voters (first time voters) very real, not status quo or good ol’boy network rhetoric, but real grassroot community concerns. Excited about the passion of people!! Here are my answers, thank you for the questions.
1. What is your knowledge on URA (Urban Renewal Authority)? Are you for it or against it? This is an excellent question. Most people are not even aware of or paying attention to URA. I have substantial knowledge of the Urban Renewal Authority or as we call it locally, Urban Renewal Agency and it’s national and global efforts in urban renewal, tax incremental financing (TIF) and revitalization. I first became familiar with URA while studying in Oregon and hearing the criticism by locals in Medford, Oregon about the proposed wholesale demolition of historic-urban districts. I started to pay attention and looking deeper, following it’s funding, as well as adopting agenda from higher level agencies. My small business, along with other downtown businesses and residents endured the phases of planning the 2 year long renovation and revitalization project by URA in partnership with Twin Falls City. I got involved in early planning stages, (phase 1-3) in citizen/business owner/property owner involved strategic planning. I served on the redesign committee for the Main Street construction project, experiencing both the pros and cons of working with URA. I am aware of the end date for the URA district and that it is the 4th phase and the TIF end date is next year 2022. Am I for it? No, ideally I would rather see local level funding guide local projects, needed improvement to our infrastructure, safe sidewalks for elderly, wheelchair access and historic districts instead of building wasteful, expensive bridge archways billboards. In the case of our downtown, the 25-plus year BID Association funds were misused (by local government) so the merchants/members/property owners protested and disbanded the BID, right around the time I moved my business downtown. Leaving no funding for sidewalk, street, gutter, water pipes, sewer improvement and any other improvements. I know taxpayers didn’t want to keep picking up the tab. There was major neglect. I know, I had a business there for 16 years now. Main Street became an abandoned street locals avoided, businesses closed and moved away from. I chose to move my business downtown 12 years ago to reinvest on Main Avenue, knowing that it deserved our local attention. Now after 2-5 year the revitalization to Main Avenue has created a popular destination — thriving, enjoyable economic hub for locals and tourists. My takeaway is that if locals do not stay informed and involved they surrender their local voice, heritage, housing options and development to an outside agency and become vulnerable to gentrification, loss or dramatic change to community identity, economy, personal property and zoning in project districts. This is why I stay involved, informed, engaged and advocate for transparency of every project presented by this and other outside agencies. I am aware of the concern that locals have with URA, the lack of protection of our historic houses on the registry but unprotected by local level authority. Hearing from constituents about their concern with large buildings being approved to develop (when the City clearly has a height limit ordinance on building.
2. Do you think the City Manager should be and elected seat? And would you support making this position an elected seat? I appreciate the history of Twin Falls and when the City of Twin Falls incorporated into a City-Manager form of government. It really puts the residents at a disadvantage to not be able to elect their Mayor. Our Mayor currently is more like a symbolic mascot. The City Manager in our current form of organization, functions outside of the open meeting laws, so there is nothing really holding that position accountable to the public. Like a corporation, the organization (City of Twin Falls) keeps the interests of its primary stakeholders (Realtors Association, usually contracted developers, major factory employers… close friends and relatives) prioritized over the individuals & ordinary, hard working families of our community. You asked if I think the City Manager should be elected. I don’t believe a City Manager position can be an elected position, at least not in the other City examples I’ve researched. However, yes, I do believe we should elect our Mayor and this is gathered in what I hear from residents. If residents wish to drop the City Manager form of government and follow the petition/ballot or proper implementation of such change to our form of government, if that is what the people will then, yes, I would support it. That is our duty as representatives, to represent the people, not the corporate, the factories, the developers, the realtors associations of stakeholders.
3. With Twin Falls being a welcoming city, would you include this welcoming to our unborn and help in removing planned parenthood from our community? I believe I am the only candidate that presented a campaign platform web page, outlining my transparency on issues I prioritize, including affordable housing, addiction crisis, transparency, accountability and small business friendly government. My entire platform – 16 years of civic experience, community service and bio – can be read on www.liyahbabayan.com. I stay very engaged with locals not only during election cycles, but each day in the community and at work. I hear them raise concern about quality of life for local born individuals – children, elders, veterans and families. I hear them raise concern about increasing property tax, the impact of growth, public safety and the impact on their lives when they are priced out of the housing market, impact on their health by pollution, mental health and rise of addiction, impact on our environment and access to clean water. These are the lives I hear residents bring up with concern as our city grows exponentially. Welcoming City implies all individuals are welcome. I am open to having this conversation and hearing all sides on who is included and excluded. Does it include undocumented individuals? Does it include people of all religious backgrounds, including non believers? Welcome to who, of who? So you see, we must first begin that conversation by defining an individual, personhood and how can local government support this definition with not only our Idaho Constitution, but the U.S. Constitution. If Twin Falls is a Welcoming City, that would include welcoming to individuals who hold different views with regards to individual agency over their bodies, family, household, property and not limited to their individual right to religious, health, family planning, sexual privacy, speech, right to petition their government. I did my research and I received pregnancy health care during both of my pregnancies at Planned Parenthood because as a small business owner I could not afford medical insurance. They helped me with services to keep a healthy pregnancy, up to the birth of my two babies. Only 3% of the services PP provides are termination related, and mostly to low income and uninsured families in our community. I have gone back every year for my yearly cervical cancer checkups. My best friend who did not have health coverage hesitated going to St. Luke’s because she could not afford the cost of a check up, she instead went to PP and because they detected abnormal cancerous cells she was able to get the health issue addressed and be alive today! In a free society, free market, individuals ought to have the liberty to choose who they do business with, or what healthcare provider they wish to select and not be governed or forced into reproduction, sterilization or adoption. That’s what they did in the communist’s regime in the Soviet Union where I used to live, had government-forced reproduction, sterilization and adoption on women, married and unmarried couples. As a mother, for example, if my unborn is recognized as an individual, on a State or National level, I would like to see a tax credit for this unborn from the moment of conception. I support individual liberty and the liberty granted to each individual, protected by our U.S. Constitution. Thank you for the opportunity to answer. I am open, available and willing to listen to anyone who has different views on any of these questions.
What is your knowledge on Urban Renewal? Do you think Urban Renewal is a benefit or a strain to our community?
The main focus of the Urban Renewal Agency is to enhance the aesthetic and quality of life for the community of Twin Falls. This agency has been responsible for projects such as repurposing City Hall, adding a new Police Administration building, and expanding our Magic Valley City Airport. Since all of these services help accommodate better government efficacy, I do see the value of the Urban Renewal Agency in Twin Falls. However, both private and public funds are used to support these investments; therefore, making it our responsibility to understand what regulations or commitments might be affiliated with the monetary resources is a priority.
2. Do you think the City Manager should be and elected seat? And would you support making this position an elected seat? I do see the value of having elections for a person that affects the city on such a high capacity such as the City Manager does.
3. With Twin Falls being a Welcoming City, would you include this welcoming to our unborn and help in removing Planned Parenthood from our community? Any services that Planned parenthood provides can also be obtained at Sage Women’s Center – except abortions. In fact, Sage out-competes Planned Parenthood with various programs, health services, and parental training to better equip abortion minded individuals. As a volunteer at Sage, I value life at all phases and would fight to see any organization(s) that threatens life come to an ended.
The Urban Renewal Agency on its face value seems like it is a good idea. At its core I think it violates free markets, liberty, constitution. A property within the urban renewal area can be forcibly taken from the owner or be if it is considered unfit or by the URA. The URA taking all of the taxes and repurposing is taxation without proper representation. The URA represents a group of unelected officials taking and spending taxes. Basic liberty demands the respect for private property and the freedom to do as you will with it. The URA takes that freedom. The City Manager takes on the role, I think, the Mayor and City Council should be doing. I think a city of our size we should have a full time Mayor that is elected by the general population. This allows for more accountability for decisions made and implemented within the city. Abortion used as a form of birth control is wrong and should not be allowed. Every life is precious. Planned Parenthood was created by a racist eugenicist who hated the black community. Then to sell the body parts is horrific. The greatest genocide in human history is the millions of murdered children in the womb. As to my understanding their is little the city council can do. I would support the removal of planned parenthood from our community.
We at MVLA hope that this article helps aid you in making an educated decision on your vote. Please reach out to all the candidates with any further questions or concerns you may have for them. Treat your interactions with them as exactly what they are: an interview for a job. These candidates are asking you to hire them to manage your tax dollars.