Idaho Falls’ City Council plans to vote Thursday night to name a street after U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson.
The ordinance would change the name of University Boulevard, on which are located a number of Idaho National Laboratory buildings, to MK Simpson Boulevard, after the incumbent congressman and his wife Kathy Simpson. “K” is also Mike Simpson’s middle initial.
INL officials requested the renaming and said it would handle the logistics, said city spokesman Bud Cranor. According to a memo attached to Thursday’s City Council agenda, notices were sent to property owners on University Boulevard and the city didn’t get any feedback.
Simpson, a Republican who has represented eastern Idaho for the past two decades, has made supporting INL one of his major focuses while in office. He is currently the chairman of the Energy and Water Development subcommittee which deals with INL funding, although he will no longer be chairman when the next Congress, which will have a Democratic majority, takes office in January.
In a letter supporting the renaming Dana Kirkham, the chief executive officer of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho, praised Simpson’s long career.
“From his time on the Blackfoot City Council, to his Speakership in the Idaho Legislature, and on to his current work in Congress, Mike has always put Idaho first and been a champion for our way of life,” Kirkham wrote. “His work on behalf of INL stands as one of many testaments to his significant contributions on behalf of our region and state.”
Although naming streets, buildings, parks or other public monuments after politicians who have retired or died is common enough, it is less common for them to be named after a still-living incumbent. Jim Garchow Way, for example, was named after the longtime Idaho Falls minor league baseball broadcaster a couple of years after he died. Mel Erickson Sunnyside Park was named after the living former city councilman within a few years of his leaving the Council.