Businessman and political newcomer Kenneth Ashcraft moved to Blackfoot five years ago because he landed a good job in the city. He would like to see others have the same opportunity to find a good job in Blackfoot and grow the local economy. That's why he's running for Blackfoot City Council Seat 1.
Ashcraft is vying for the seat against longtime incumbent Chris Jensen and local realtor Andy Hasselbring.
Ashcraft, who works in sales and marketing for Crary Industries (an agricultural equipment company), believes that Blackfoot already has the tools needed to attract well-paying jobs.
"One of the tools is called the TIF [Tax Increment Financing] District and it is responsible for bringing in companies like Glanbia Cheese and Premier Technologies," he said. "I think we should use this tool for bringing in more companies that would help this community not only become more self-reliant - but boost our economy."
Ashcraft also thinks that the local economy would grow faster if the city did a better job marketing itself, saying, "We could start a 'Shop In Blackfoot' campaign that promoted our products. I really feel that if the city council worked with the Chamber of Commerce, we could work with local merchants to make the people of Blackfoot aware of what we have right here."
Ashcraft said he'd like to see the city identify things "that the community doesn't have, that we need," adding, "We could approach those businesses that we need in the community or find investors that would like to start up those kinds of businesses."
Aschcraft has a degree in Mechanized Agriculture and Psychology and believes his education has helped him to work "hands-on while at the same time being a leader who focuses on the needs of the people."
He would like to work with the city to address concerns in the 'baby stages' before they become critical, citing the example of the city's urgent need for a new clarifier at the water treatment plant.
"I think situations like this could have been taken care of before they got to the critical phase we're in now," he said.
In addressing the city's budget issues, Ashcraft said, "Blackfoot has a $15 million budget, much bigger than other cities our size. I think the budget needs to be gone over to see if all the spending is necessary. I firmly believe that we should have good roads, fully funded police, fire departments and a strong infrastructure. I would just look for more ways that we could more with less, because I believe it is possible. It is a duty to ensure that taxpayer money is spent in a wise and responsible way."
Ashcraft, the eighth of 12 children, is an Idaho native raised on a farm in the small town of Moody near Sugar City. He is married to wife Virginia and the father of six children.
"Family life is important to me. One of the reasons I am running for city council is to help ensure that Blackfoot remains a place where we can raise good family," he concluded.
Blackfoot City Council Seat 1 is the only seat being challenged in the Nov. 5 election.
Council Seat 2 is held by Layne (Skip) Gardner (4-year term); Council Seat 3 is held by Bart Brown (2-year term) and Jan Simpson has declared her candidacy for open Seat 4.