TWIN FALLS — The City Council voted to re-elect Shawn Barigar as mayor of Twin Falls on Tuesday, but with two other contenders, he just barely retained his seat.
In Twin Falls, the city manager and other administrators manage the day-to-day operations of the city. The City Council, meanwhile, serves as a sort of board of directors, where the mayor is like the chairman of that board, City Manager Travis Rothweiler said. The mayor is elected every two years by the City Council from among its members.
But this week, the Council got a little hung up on that selection process. After it chose to go with a slightly different selection method, Barigar was elected with just three of the six votes — Councilwoman Ruth Pierce was absent. With approval by the Council, Barigar then appointed Nikki Boyd as vice mayor.
Before his election, Barigar gave an impassioned speech about his first term, when the city found itself caught in the middle of a national discussion about refugee resettlement.
“I believe I’ve demonstrated my ability to address challenges,” he said. “I don’t think any of us knew that our city would be thrust into a national spotlight this past two years. And people outside of our community hijacked our reputation, twisted stories into elaborate falsehoods, threatened and lied and stoked the flames of intolerance. And they hung our city’s name on it.
“As challenging as it was, I’m proud to have been in the mayor’s seat during this time, to represent out community’s values and the true story of who we are.”
In past years, the mayor has been selected by a motion and a vote of the City Council. But on Tuesday, attorney Fritz Wonderlich said the process that’s been used before “wasn’t so much of an election as an approval of a motion.”
After Council members discussed the process, it was determined that, for transparency, the mayor would be elected with each Council member publicly voting for his or her preferred candidate. The vote took place after those interested in the position gave a speech.
Also seeking the mayor’s seat were Chris Talkington and Suzanne Hawkins.
“Any of the seven of us are definitely qualified to be mayor of this Council,” Hawkins had said in her speech. “I know I have the skills and the heart to take on this responsibility.”
Hawkins, who’s been vice mayor for the past four years, had Greg Lanting’s backing. She also lost her bid for mayor against Barigar in 2016.
Council members Christopher Reid and Nikki Boyd threw their support behind Barigar during the vote, while Councilman Chris Talkington cast the only vote for himself. Talkington said this is his last two years on the Council.
In his speech, Barigar did not shy away from the difficulties he had in his first term.
“I spoke up to protect our citizens and navigated a deluge of national and international media that likely didn’t even know where Twin Falls was before this all started,” he said. “And looking back, I truly believe that our true image of Twin Falls was preserved, shared, if not even strengthened — and really celebrated by our most important audience, and that’s the citizens of Twin Falls.”
He said he looks forward to continuing the city’s momentum over the next two years.
“The last two years I’ve really looked at my responsibility as representing the citizens, and taken it seriously,” he told the Times-News.
Barigar said he chose Boyd as vice mayor in part because he respected the enthusiasm and forward-thinking she brings to Council discussions.
“I’m always looking to serve more,” Boyd said.
The election took place in the new City Hall at 203 Main Ave. E., following the swearing in of Hawkins, Lanting and Reid to their new four-year terms.