A financial adviser is challenging a former teacher in a bid for seat 4 on the Idaho Falls City Council.

First-term councilman Jim Francis, a retired history teacher, is running for re-election against political newcomer Robert Mark Thompson, a financial adviser.

Thompson, who said he was drawn to local government after being frustrated with the public participation process in City Council decisions, said he also brings a unique financial perspective that the council would benefit from.

"It's important for the City Council to have because they are working with budgets all the time. … They are reviewing different lending vehicles such as certificate and bonding," Thompson said in an interview with the Post Register. And he pointed out the city has a business of its own in Idaho Falls Power, the municipal energy provider, as well as several other enterprises such as the airport, zoo and golf courses.

Meanwhile, Francis touts his experience working as a liaison with departments across the city and understanding the founding principles of American government. He said his years of teaching have taught him that "the government was responsible to maintain safety and happiness of the whole." He said every decision facing government calls upon those values.

"My opponent says he'll bring financial understanding of the city. I'm bringing this understanding of who we are as a country and who we were at the beginning, and trying to bring that at the local level," Francis said in an interview with the Post Register.

Francis made a point to add that he has been immersed in budgeting public money for four years in City Council.

Thompson said he the biggest challenge that the city faces is growth. He described people moving from "blue states to red states" as "a lot of like-minded people coming to Idaho Falls for the good of Idaho Falls." He said that brings a mix of good and bad. Good because many new people are coming, and bad because it will require extra expenses to build up infrastructure to deliver services, he said.

Thompson also suggested he would watch for wasteful government spending.

Francis also said he wants to make sure the plans that City Council started during his previous four years actually "can be made real."  That includes the new $30 million police station. He said giving police resources can help create community and neighboring policing that is "not just reactive policing to a problem, but proactive policing."

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct information about Francis's teaching experience and to add additional information.

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel can be reached at 208-542-6754. Follow him on Twitter: @pfannyyy. He is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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