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Seven Council Candidates Square Off For Seats

With the Pocatello City Council elections just 15 days away, the candidates all came out Monday night to speak at a League of Women Voter’s Forum at City Hall. Including the incumbents, seven people are running for three different seats.

Seat No. 1 is between Brad Huerta and Jim Johnston.

Johnston was appointed for the seat when Ron Frasure stepped down earlier this year. He said he believes in cutting wasteful spending and helping to bring jobs to the city.

“A small group of people should not determine what happens in Pocatello. This is representative government, and by people going to the polls and letting their feelings be known, that’s the direction that the city should go,” Johnston said.

His opponent, Huerta, said “Integrity, experience,” and “service” are the most important things in local government. He is emphasizing transparency and accessibility and has been endorsed by Pocatello’s Fire and Police Departments.

“Really what I’m going to bring to the city council is an openness. Everyone will have a a voice and we will put agenda items on the City Council agenda, so that everyone will have a chance to chime in and offer their alternatives,” Huerta said.

Seat No. 2 is the hottest race on the ticket. Highly conservative Mark Balzer is squaring off against progressive Scott Odekirk. They are both fighting against incumbent Steve Brown.

Balzer is running on his “Common $ense Leadership” platform of cutting what is wasteful, keeping taxes down and streamlining government in tough times.

“We need to take a step back and say, ‘Is this what needs to be happening right now? Is this the best way of doing it?'” Balzer said.

Scott Odekirk said he wants to find innovative ways to bring out the best in the city and make it work for our economy. He said investing in what works locally will pay huge dividends. He is dedicated to finishing the Portneuf Greenway.

“We have to be more innovative for the approach we take for our economic development. I’m for tax breaks, I’m for making government more efficient, but I also think we have to include more values into what makes a community great,” Odekirk said.

Brown was appointed to the council last July. He is the regional director for Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and is emphasizing property tax relief and urban renewal.

“We’ve seen great economic development, we lead the state in many areas in trying to rebound from this difficult economic time. I’d just like the opportunity to finish what we’ve started,” Brown said.

Finally, in seat No. 3, Paul J. Gagliardi is facing incumbent Eva Johnson-Nye.

Gagliardi has local government experience from Massachusetts. He said everyone wants the city to be great, but he is the best man to do the job.

“We have the same ideas, we’re all on the same page, but I think I have a really good business approach for government that I think will work for the people,” Gagliardi said.

Johnson-Nye shares the same campaign manager as Odekirk, District 25’s newest board member Nate Murphy. She was a small business owner who supports other local enterprises, she said.

“I have the experience and I have the track record of being a good council member. I work very, very hard for the city of Pocatello,” Johnson-Nye said.

The race for the second seat becomes even more interesting because Brown has been in Salt Lake City for several weeks caring for his daughter who is in the hospital. Whether that means the race will come down to just Odekirk and Balzer is yet to be seen.

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