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Two candidates both focused on reducing city spending will face-off for the zone two seat on the Idaho Falls City Council during the Nov. 2 election.
Sandra Hokanson, who declined to be interviewed for this article, is challenging incumbent Lisa Burtenshaw, who was appointed to the council in April after former City Councilwoman Shelly Smede resigned.
Hokanson said in a guest column sent to the Post Register she decided to run for city council because she wants to have strong ties to her community, particularly with her raising her three children in Idaho Falls.
Education: Some college. On pace to earn bachelor’s degree in seven months, Spring Arbor University Online
“I have always tried to be involved in the community,” Hokanson wrote. “Whether it was a school function, fundraiser, teaching music at elementary school, or supporting others in the community, I try to be there for people. A community with strong beliefs, values and free choice is essential to me.”
In a city council candidate forum at Compass Academy on Oct. 13, Hokanson said she feels that the community hasn’t been heard by the council during the last few years and she specifically mentioned she felt the city’s response during the pandemic has been made without full transparency.
One area of concern for Hokanson is the city’s budget.
During the forum, Hokanson said she’d rather see the city focus on maintaining the recreational facilities and parks it already has rather than try to build new spaces. She reinforced this in another candidate forum hosted by KID Newsradio on Oct. 20.
“We already have plenty, why don’t we just take care of those things,” said Hokanson during the KID forum. “We need to learn how to budget. We need to learn how to spend. Our city overspends (and) I feel like they just go with it even when there’s not a need.”
Hokanson is originally from Russia and was adopted when she was 16. Her adopted family brought her to Branson, Missouri, and she moved to Idaho when she was 19. She is a stay-at-home mom, teaches fitness classes and works as a substitute teacher in her spare time. She is on pace to earn a bachelor’s of social work from Spring Arbor University Online in seven months.
Burtenshaw’s said her biggest concern with the city is its infrastructure, which she feels is becoming unsustainable. She wants safer intersections, roads and pedestrian and bike paths, particularly in the north and south ends of town that have experienced recent growth.
Burtenshaw’s main reason to run for city council was to respond to the rapid growth Idaho Falls is experiencing she said.
“I want to make sure Idaho Falls doesn’t lose the community and sense of connectivity that we’ve come to appreciate,” Burtenshaw said.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Brigham Young University
Experience: Less than one term (appointed)
To respond to the growth, Burtenshaw said the city needs to modify city ordinances to allow more of a variety of housing types, specifically seeking higher density housing to allow people to have a more walkable lifestyle.
Burtenshaw said she is not anti-growth. Like Hokanson, she’d like to take care of the things the city already has.
“Development is not supporting (future) development,” Burtenshaw said. “It takes a while for growth to catch up in the city and in the meantime, the city continues to have increasing costs associated with that growth.”
Burtenshaw is a former Idaho Falls School District 91 board member. She grew up in Idaho Falls. She attended Ricks College, now Brigham Young University-Idaho, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University.
In the race for Idaho Falls City Council Seat 6, two candidates have opposing visions of how the city should use its resources.