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Unusual Mayor’s Race Heats Up In Rexburg

We have reported on Rexburg cracking down on illegal campaign signs leading up to the November election.

Now we’d like to discuss one of the hottest contests in that election. The mayor’s seat is up for grabs again.

The current mayor, Rich Woodland, has never actually run for the position he now holds. He was appointed after the previous mayor resigned.

Mayor Woodland is competing against a beloved female city council member, Donna Benfield, who ran unsuccessfully against his predecessor, and 25-year-old Brigham Young University-Idaho student Erick Salcedo.

This makes for a diverse group of candidates.

It’s hard to miss the construction in Rexburg, the roads closed for upgrades and half-remodeled buildings.

No one can dispute the city is growing and changing as BYU-Idaho expands and the population explodes.

But just who will be the mayoral candidate to change with the city? That’s still up for argument.

Rich Woodland said as the incumbent mayor he brings something unique to the table.

“I bring experience. I have two years as mayor and it’s been very successful. We’ve cut the budget over $5,000 in the last two years,” said Woodland.

Donna Benfield with the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce and City Council said it’s time the look of the mayor’s office changes with the city.

“I really do believe in Rexburg, and sell Rexburg and I want to do that for the city. I think we can entice big businesses to come to Rexburg and employ our students and our citizens,” said Benfield.

Erick Salcedo, a senior at BYU-Idaho, said he hopes to strengthen community ties with the school, which even Woodland admits is the engine that drives Rexburg.

“If you just give students a college education and then send them home, then they really haven’t gotten what they could have. I honestly believe that some of the most valuable things students can have here come from the city of Rexburg,” said Salcedo.

Benfield and Woodland said adequate infrastructure with all the growth is the biggest challenge Rexburg is facing right now.

Three city council seats are up for grabs in this year’s election, and in another unusual twist, none of the incumbents is running.

Election day is Nov. 8.

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