Twin Falls Council Selects New Mayor

Jan 7, 2020

Suzanne Hawkins is the new mayor of Twin Falls, after a 4-3 vote by city council members. Hawkins selected councilwoman Ruth Pierce to be the vice mayor.
Credit City of Twin Falls

Suzanne Hawkins will take over as the mayor of Twin Falls for a two-year term. Shawn Barigar, who had lead the city for four years, was not nominated by other council members to continue in his role, and he did not nominate himself.

Twin Falls has a "council-manager" style of government, which means the city council members choose the mayor, and a city manager runs most of the day-to-day operations.

The council members made their selection during Monday evening’s city council meeting. Members nominated Suzanne Hawkins and former Vice Mayor Nicki Boyd, and Hawkins won with a 4-3 vote. Hawkins chose councilwoman Ruth Pierce to be vice mayor.

Barigar will not be leaving the city’s government; he was elected to another four-year term on the council in November.

In a statement before the vote, Barigar said one of his greatest accomplishments was designating June 2019 as LGBTQ Pride Month in the city.

Under Barigar, who is also President and CEO of the city’s chamber of commerce, Twin Falls has seen some major changes. A renovation of the downtown core brought new businesses to Main Avenue and a nearly $6 million new city hall building.

Hawkins also said the downtown projects have been a success of the council.

“It has been phenomenal to see that come together,” she said.

Hawkins was appointed to the council in 2012, and she said the greatest challenge Twin Falls faces in the coming years is transportation.

“We know we have to formulate some type of public transportation system,” she said. “And, unfortunately, it’s an unfunded mandate from the federal government, so we have to decide how to pay for this.”

The city will reach a new status as a Metropolitan Planning Organization when results from the 2020 census confirm the population has surpassed 50,000 people. The designation will require Twin Falls to come up with a plan for transportation in the city, as well as make updates to certain infrastructure like wastewater treatment systems.

Hawkins said the city will need to figure out how to make those improvements without raising property taxes. Public safety systems also need updates, she said, including the city’s fire stations.

“They’re outdated, they’re old, and they’re not adequate for staffing or for holding our equipment,” she said.

A bond for new fire facilities failed to reach a supermajority in May, and the council decided not to include it on the November ballot at the same time as the county’s jail bond.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen 

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio