ISJ EDITORIAL: Pocatello mayor, council need to rethink raises

This election, there are more candidates for Pocatello City Council Seat 3 than for any other post in the Pocatello area.

Those vying for the seat include incumbent Roger Bray and challengers Don Zebe, Ethan Ennis and Arlen Walker as well as perennial candidate Idaho Lorax.

But this isn’t a race of quantity without quality as we’re extremely impressed with almost all of the candidates running.

That being said, we are most impressed with Bray, a pastor at a local church as well as City Council veteran, who has more knowledge about the inner workings of the city’s government, budget and tax structure than any council candidate we’ve interviewed to date.

Bray has on numerous occasions proven that he’s a voice of reason on a council that has made some questionable decisions lately.

Despite competing against some very good challengers to retain his council post, Bray clearly stands out in our opinion as the best choice.

We not only hope he wins re-election, but we hope more members of the City Council listen to what he has to say in the future.

Bray is an expert on the city’s tax structure and feels the City Council was negligent in its duties this year for not holding the line on property taxes.

He’s critical of the leadership provided by Mayor Brian Blad and his fellow council members and can back up every criticism with a good explanation of how the city’s leaders could have acted more prudently to either save tax dollars, maintain the morale of city employees or better serve the citizens of Pocatello.

Some might say Bray is a negative force on the City Council, but we feel in most cases his criticisms of the decisions being made at City Hall are valid.

He pushed hard for the council to not give itself massive pay raises this year because of the horrific optics the move would create.

Bray’s advice on the matter was spot on, but the council unfortunately opted to ignore it.

The council’s raises were a slap in the face to every city employee, whose raises for the most part were meager by comparison, and to the citizens of the city, many of whom haven’t had any pay increases at their jobs in years.

Bray doesn’t feel the city’s leadership tries hard enough to save money, isn’t smart enough about attracting economic development, and is out of touch with the many Pocatello residents who live in poverty.

If we could clone him on the City Council we would, because he’s right about a lot of things.

Putting our strong support for Bray aside, his challengers deserve mention because for the most part they would also bring something good to the table if elected.

Zebe, a commericial real estate agent and former GE executive, is running on the mantra “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.”

If as a voter your biggest issue is economic development and you don’t care about much else, Zebe is your candidate because he’s spent many years bringing economic development to our city.

If you drive around Pocatello and look at the various shopping centers and other commercial developments that have arrived here in recent years, Zebe likely had a role in every one of those economic development success stories.

He said he’s running because his son almost had to leave Pocatello because he couldn’t find a good paying job here. Zebe and all of us know of many local families whose children have moved away from the Gate City to take advantage of better economic opportunities elsewhere and that’s not any type of trend we as a community want to see continue.

Zebe said if elected it will be his mission to make sure that no Pocatello family has to watch their children move far away because of the lack of high-paying jobs here. We believe he’s definitely up to the task.

We’re also impressed with Ennis, who has the intellect, common sense and vision to successfully serve on the City Council. He is in our opinion one of the rising stars on the local political scene, and we hope he ends up serving in our local government in some capacity because he has a lot to offer.

Walker, a retired teacher, is more subdued than his competitors in this race, but he, too, is worth consideration and supporting him would not be anything akin to a wasted vote.

Walker has been watching East Idaho politics longer than anyone else in the race and would not be a push-over if elected to the City Council.

In fact, none of the candidates for Pocatello City Council Seat 3 would be push-overs.

But only one can be elected, and we believe the best choice is Bray.

Anyone who thinks he’s too negative hasn’t been paying attention to the Pocatello City Council’s recent track record.

Bray definitely brings some checks and balances to a city government that needs them.