Pocatello City Council candidate Josh Mansfield has family ties to city government, with his father currently serving as the city’s public works director.
The relationship has raised some eyebrows among voters, though the city attorney says Mansfield’s candidacy is perfectly legal.
Because Mansfield’s father, Jeff Mansfield, already held his position as a city employee when his son announced his candidacy for an elected position on the City Council in August, there is no legal issue with his running for or potentially holding a council seat, said City Attorney Jared Johnson.
Jeff has worked for the city since 2014 and has directed the public works department since 2017.
The Idaho code that addresses circumstances such as this, according to Johnson, only states that an immediate family member within two degrees of relation to a sitting City Council member is not legally permitted to be hired by the city.
“If the employee is already employed by the entity before the family member becomes an elected official over that entity, the employee shall retain their employment. But if Jeff wasn’t an employee and his son was elected, then the city would not be able to hire Jeff as an employee,” Johnson explained. “So from a legal perspective, it’s perfectly in line with what the law requires.”
Josh said in an interview that he did consider his father’s position in city government prior to his announcing his candidacy for City Council. Josh said he consulted Johnson, who told his campaign that “there are no legal reasons why this would be a problem,” according to Josh.
“I have not heard personally any citizens bring up the question of whether or not this is going to be a concern and I think largely it’s a non-issue,” Josh said. “As I was considering my run, I wanted to ensure that I could do so ethically, and if for whatever reason there was something that I felt would stand in the way of that, then I wouldn’t have run.”
The City Council candidate listed three reasons why voters should not be concerned about his family ties to city government: he would not be his father’s supervisor; he has no power to make decisions as an individual council member; and his decision-making will “always be transparent” and equitable.
Johnson said there are no votes, discussions or City Council duties in which Josh would not be able to participate if he were a council member, and that Josh would not have to operate any differently from how other elected members operate based on his father’s position.
Josh, who is 24 years old and graduated in May from Carroll College in Helena, Montana, went public with his bid for a City Council seat in August during a reelection event for Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad.
Josh is running to replace current City Council President Heidi Adamson, who is not running for reelection to Seat 4 on the council. He will be up against challengers Kathleen Lewis, John C. Ruth and Taylor Wood, who also are vying for Seat 4 in the upcoming November election.
The election, in which city residents will vote for mayor and City Council seats 4, 5 and 6, is set for Nov. 2.