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Twin Falls City Council Candidate Forum

City council candidates speak during a forum presented by the Times-News Oct. 19 in Twin Falls.

Unseating an incumbent is tough business. Challengers have to show that not only does the incumbent deserve to lose the job, they have to show that they’re the best person to replace them.

In the race for Twin Falls City Council Seat 1, we don’t believe any of the challengers facing Suzanne Hawkins have met that standard.

In fact, Hawkins has done more than enough on the Council to retain her seat. She’s heavily involved with the city’s Youth Council. As a small-business owner, she’s represented her constituents well. She comes to City Council having done her homework, and she asks some of the best questions during Council meetings.

She sometimes takes unpopular votes – but only after checking with her constituents first.

Hawkins was the lone councilwoman to vote against the city’s “neighborly city” resolution that all others on the Council supported. Based on feedback from residents, she thought the resolution would do more to divide the city than unite it. Our editorial board disagrees, but we respect Hawkins for sticking with her convictions and being able to articulate them.

Challenging Hawkins is former County Commissioner Leon Mills, who was ousted in the last election by Jack Johnson. Liyah Babayan is a small-business owner who came to Twin Falls as a refugee more than 25 years ago. Eric Smallwood a relative newcomer to town.

We admire Mills for giving politics another go. No doubt he’d be a good addition to the Council. But, like we said before, he hasn’t done enough to convince voters he’s a better fit than Hawkins, who also touts a long track record of public service.

Smallwood is anxious to enter Twin Falls politics. We recommend he continue to gain experience locally before making another Council run. He’s on the city’s task force for a new rec center; other similar opportunities will help Smallwood flesh out his platform, which now is too heavily focused on singular issues, like rerouting the Second Avenues downtown.

Babayan is the most intriguing challenger. She rightly points out that minority interests aren’t well represented on the Council. Babayan has campaigned as the champion for the common resident. She’s a working mom, a refugee success story. She’s popular and widely known around town. Depending on how aggressively she campaigns between now and Nov. 7 will determine whether she poses a serious threat to Hawkins.

Regardless, we believe Hawkins is the best choice for Seat 1, based on her experience, thoughtfulness, intelligence and previous record on the board.


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