(Pocatello for Accountable Government Entities, October 9, 2023)
*Candidate Questionnaires were emailed to the nine (9) City Council candidates on 09/14/23 inviting participation. We will be posting responses received through 10/09/23 for Seats #1 and #2 beginning today, 10/09/23, and Seat #3 on 10/10/23. Subsequent submissions will be posted as received.
2023 POCATELLO CANDIDATE – HAYDEN PAULSEN – SEAT #1
1. What motivated you to run for office and how have you prepared for the position?
I was born and raised in Pocatello. I left for college and graduate school earning a M.A. in Strategic Studies and International Economics from Johns Hopkins. I chose to return to Pocatello because I deeply care about this city. Since returning, I have canvassed over 1000 houses and I know what Pocatellans care about from every demographic and every political belief. They want Pocatello to have fair tax policy and quality services. The catalyst for my decision to run was earlier this year when City Council and the Mayor eliminated the line item agenda that allowed for a public comment period. Not a single person I’ve spoken to at their doorstep, or in public, agrees with this decision. It has created animosity instead of an environment of collaboration. I talk to Pocatellans at their doorsteps, I have a strong education in strategic thought and economics, and I co-run a successful local business.
2. What specific experiences and/or qualifications make you the best candidate and why?
In my undergraduate studies I completed a program at Pepperdine’s law school in Dispute Resolution. I strongly believe that collaboration is essential for effective governance. My M.A. in Strategic Studies and International Economics trained me to focus on long term governmental policy and economics. I have been an editor for three publications. I co-run a successful local business that distributes agricultural supplies across the country. I go door to door talking directly to Pocatellans several times per week. I know the theory of fiscal policy, have the experience of managing a business’ money, have the ability to meticulously read through materials, know how to effectively collaborate within government and bureaucracy, and I know what our citizens care about. I believe this combination of knowledge and practical skills makes me the best candidate.
3. What are the primary responsibilities of a City Council member and how will you fulfill each of them? (Please identify at least 2)
(1) Oversight: City Council members oversee the city’s budget, finances, and city departments and services. I would examine the budget to ensure that tax dollars are allocated efficiently and address the needs of the community. From feedback from our citizens, for example, I would look at current zoning to address policies that are allowing more car washes instead of other businesses and how to increase the availability of housing in the core of Pocatello. I would also like to see more uniform enforcement of code across the city. Through examining the budget, I would like to see if it’s an issue of too few doing too much. There are unsafe and unsightly conditions across the city that inhibit Pocatello’s economic growth. I would look into an audit of what citizens have requested to be addressed and prioritize those concerns.
(2) Legislation: City Council members are responsible for drafting and passing local ordinances that directly impact Pocatello. Collaboration is key. No government is effective without it. I will work with the Mayor and other Council members, even through disagreements, to seek an outcome that best benefits Pocatellans. I will make voting decisions based on careful review, research, public input, and the best interests of the community. Ultimately, it comes down to transparency and responsiveness. Our elected representatives are chosen by the people and I promise to advocate for the return of public comment and I promise to respond to citizen concerns so that Council decisions best reflect the needs of Pocatello.
4. Are you satisfied with current City of Pocatello government? If yes, why? If no, why not, and what improvements do you propose?
Overall, Pocatello city workers do great things with the resources they have and I support them, but we do need to adapt to Pocatello’s unique challenges. I am not satisfied with the current City of Pocatello government because I think there is room for improvement in several areas. For example, I think the city needs to do a better job of engaging with the public and providing more transparency and accountability. I also think the city needs to address some of the long-term challenges that we face, such as economic development, infrastructure maintenance, environmental sustainability, and public safety. I propose that the city should adopt a more proactive and innovative approach to these issues, such as zoning changes for businesses and more housing, reinstating public comment, green energy policies, and helping our youth through more activity programs.
5. What is your view of City spending and City property taxes?
(Include any specifics like financial policies you agree/disagree with or the City’s prioritization of spending, too much/too little spending, etc.)
My view of city spending and city property taxes is that they should be balanced and fair. I believe that the city should spend within its means and prioritize its needs based on data and public input. I also believe that the city should seek alternative sources of revenue, such as grants, partnerships, fees, or bonds, to fund specific projects or programs that benefit the community. I believe in a balanced budget, a reserve fund, and an annual audit. However, I disagree with some of the city’s spending decisions, such as increasing property taxes without sufficient justification or public support.
6. What does “public transparency” mean to you, and what doesn’t it mean in terms of being a potential “public official?”
While there are many issues that are important for Pocatello, I decided to run because of the elimination of public comment. It’s not transparent and removed a layer of accountability. Public transparency means being open, honest, and accountable to the people who elect me. It means communicating clearly and regularly with the public about the issues that affect them, listening to their concerns, and explaining the rationale behind my decisions. It also means disclosing any potential conflicts of interest and adhering to high ethical standards. However, public transparency does not mean compromising on confidentiality when dealing with sensitive or legal information or violating the privacy rights of individuals or groups.