Printed on: September 18, 2013

Weeding out the issues

Downs says development is needed citywide

By CHRISTINA LORDS
clords@postregister.com

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of four articles profiling candidates in the Idaho Falls mayor's race. The articles will run Wednesdays and Fridays for the next two weeks.Hands on his hips, Tim Downs turned to his left to survey as far as the eye could see on South Lee Avenue in Idaho Falls.

To say he didn't like what he saw would be an understatement. For blocks, pesky green weeds dotted the landscape between cracked gray sidewalks.

"This is all against city code," he said, waving his hand south toward Lomax Street. "The property owner should be notified."

To Downs, who said the area is one of dozens in Idaho Falls that could use some tender loving care, the issue is more than just pulling weeds on the city's side streets. It's an example of the lack of leadership in City Hall -- top to bottom.

Efforts for economic development and city beautification should be just that: citywide, he said. As mayor, Downs said, he would encourage new incentives for businesses to repurpose existing structures throughout the city to help modernize the look and feel of all of Idaho Falls, not just what can be seen from Interstate 15.

"The greenbelt is not the only area in town that we have that has to be taken care of," Downs said.

That also means a more consistent approach to how and when properties are annexed into the city should be applied to new development, as outlined by the city's comprehensive plan, he said.

As a 19-year veteran of the Idaho Falls Police Department, Downs said his experience on the force has led him to meet and interact with people from every part of town, from different age groups and from different social and economic classes.

Downs also spent eight years in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from West Jefferson High School in 1985 and 13 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

The more people he meets, he said, the more he sees room for improvement within city leadership.

"Yes, I'm a police officer," he said. "But I'm also a college graduate, a father, a veteran. ... I'm proud to be a police officer, but I also have many other different perspectives. I have a feel of the pulse of the community. My job allows me to wear different hats wherever I go."

Downs pointed to several recent decisions by the City Council and mayor as evidence of a lack of leadership and accountability within the city, including holding the council's most recent meeting at City Hall when a large turnout was expected for public testimony on its anti-discrimination ordinance.

The meeting should have been moved to a larger facility so all residents, including those who wanted to hear the other agenda items, could be guaranteed a seat, he said.

Downs said he disagreed with the council and mayor's decision to table long-term budgetary woes such as firefighter overtime costs and public transportation until the next fiscal year.

"One of the candidates who is running against me has been a part of that process, and the process hasn't been a good one," he said.

The comment referred to mayoral candidate and City Councilwoman Sharon Parry.

"Kicking the can down the street" when it comes to financial problems isn't the way the issues should be handled in the future, he said.

"There needs to be somebody in place that picks up that can and does what needs to be done," he said.

Tim Downs

Marital status: In a relationship

Children: Three children

Schooling: Bachelor's degree from Idaho State University, associate degree from the Community College of the Air Force

Occupation: Idaho Falls police officer

Years in Idaho Falls: 19

Website: www.timdowns4mayor.com

Extra insight To view the first of the four Post Register profiles on Idaho Falls mayoral candidates, go to http://tinyurl.com/lvzucx8. The third profile is scheduled to run Friday. The final profile is scheduled for Sept. 25.