Twin Falls City Council

Councilman Shawn Barigar (third from left) speaks during a City Council meeting, Feb. 10, 2014, at the City Council Chambers in Twin Falls.

Drew Nash, Times-News

TWIN FALLS • The Twin Falls City Council shot down a proposal Monday night to move toward electing the mayor by popular vote.

Councilwoman Rebecca Mills Sojka proposed drafting an ordinance to having the people elect the mayor, as is done in most other area cities, rather than the current system where the mayor is appointed by the City Council from among its members.

Mills Sojka narrowly lost her re-election bid to Ruth Pierce and will be off the Council at the end of year.

Her motion failed 1-6. Some Council members said the next Council, which will have two new members in January, should be the ones to decide whether they want to consider a change, and others said they saw no reason to change the current system.

“This is premature,” said Councilman Greg Lanting. “The new Council should be voting on this, not the existing Council.”

If the motion had passed, the ordinance would have then needed to go through the public hearing process.

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In Twin Falls, the city manager, deputy city managers and department heads run the city government. While the mayor’s formal power is limited, he or she does run the Council meetings, represents the city at meetings and at events, and makes some appointments subject to the Council’s confirmation.

The new Council will select the next mayor at its first meeting on Jan. 4. Mayor Don Hall has already said he’s not going to run for mayor again, and Lanting, who has been mayor before, mentioned during the discussion he isn’t interested in the position either.

The Council also discussed other ways to make the process of selecting the next mayor more public. Councilman Chris Talkington, who was first elected in 1975 and has been on the Council for more than 20 years total since then, said that he has probably been involved in 12 or 13 mayoral elections and none of them have felt transparent.

He and several other Council members said that any of them who want to be mayor should state their intentions either next week or at the Jan. 4 meeting and give a speech to let people know why they’re interested in the job and what their priorities would be.

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