HEYBURN — Heyburn City Council candidates fielded questions about growth, how the city will pay for infrastructure and if they support a new Burley airport Monday during a forum hosted by the Times-News.
Five candidates, incumbent Dick Galbraith along with Nile Bohon, Glen Loveland, Chad Anderson and Michael Covington are vying for three open four-year seats. Anderson currently holds a two-year seat that Rose Schmitt is running for unopposed.
Galbraith and Bohon did not attend the forum.
Anderson, Covington and Loveland all said infrastructure and growth were the biggest challenges facing the city.
“Infrastructure is important to any city growing or not, and we’re growing,” Covington said.
It is also important to ensure the city isn’t “hemorrhaging” money in response to growth, he said.
Anderson said rate increases in water and sewer would be one way to pay for infrastructure.
“We have to get the wastewater out of the hole and make it profitable,” he said.
Covington said growth “with thought” will balance the city’s rural roots with an increasing population.
Anderson said growth in the city will happen “one way or another,” so the city must work with planning and zoning and “spread out the houses,” to preserve the city’s rural roots.
Anderson said the city is working with developers to add more housing and the city is “fair” with developers.
Loveland, who works in real estate, said years ago people didn’t want to buy houses in Heyburn because it was considered a “bedroom community.”
“That’s changed now. Developers want to build in Heyburn,” he said.
“You’ve got to watch how you build and what you build,” Schmitt said about the city’s growth. Schmitt is on the planning and zoning board.
All four candidates said they couldn’t take a stand on whether they support a new Burley airport without more information.
Schmitt said the biggest issue facing the city is getting citizens involved in government but she wasn’t sure how to spark more involvement and suggested printing the council meeting times and dates on the city billings.
“Social media is where it’s at,” Anderson said. The city should post events and issues on Facebook to get citizens to attend meetings.
“Citizen involvement is always an issue in every town,” Covington said.
Loveland said years ago when he was mayor, city council meeting attendance was low and he went out and knocked on doors asking people to come to the meetings. But sometimes, he said, people won’t get involved unless there is an issue that is important to them.
Loveland said he brings his various experience as mayor and in his business to the office. Covington said his “youthful exuberance” is his greatest asset, while Anderson said he will make sure the families in Heyburn are heard. Schmitt said she hopes to bring her perspective as a citizen observer to the seat.