Following local elections last week, the City of Driggs, Idaho, will be swearing in a new mayor in early January. Hyrum Johnson has led the Teton Valley community for the last eight years and had hoped to serve a third and final term.
“Obviously, the result was a little bit disappointing and a surprise,” Johnson said. “But at some point it is right for those of us who are elected to move on and let others come in and fill those seats and bring their perspectives and their insights and their hopes and dreams to the community as well.”
Johnson will be replaced by the current Driggs City Council President August Christensen, who campaigned on a platform of fostering more collaboration and direct communication between citizens and the local government.
“Something I think is really important is how are we able to collaborate more as a whole community? With the other cities here and the county and the nonprofits and the organizations, how can we all come together to work on these big issues?” Christensen said. “We don’t need to be siloed. We don’t all need to come up with the answers separately and work independently.”
Christensen also told KHOL that one of her main priorities will be addressing the lack of affordable housing options for local workers.
“If we’re not able to house the people that are working here, what type of a small town and community are we?” she said. “I think that it’s just important to figure out all the tools that we have access to and start using them.”
As he prepares to leave office, Johnson said he’s proud of laying the foundation for several downtown improvement and housing projects, a new aquatics center and infrastructure upgrades.
“Ultimately it comes down to managing growth. That’s what I have been focused on for the last eight years is: How do we prepare for the growth that will come?” he said. “I think that we are ready for that. We have the staff in place, we have the planning documents in place, we have the policies and procedures in place. So, I think we can handle it. We can manage it and still preserve the character of our community.”
Christensen will take office on Jan. 4, 2022. However, the results of two other local elections in Teton Valley remain uncertain. Recounts have been requested in two close races for the Driggs City Council and Teton County School Board, according to the Teton Valley News. That’s after the initial results the county released on Election Night failed to include absentee ballots, which changed the outcome of two races. At least four voters were also issued incorrect ballots, though the county said they only impacted one school board race and were not enough to change the result.
The Driggs City Council race between incumbent Miles Knowles and newcomer Erika Earles, who appear to be tied with 222 votes each, is also on track to be decided by a coin toss.