2017 Year in Review: Story #1: Blackfoot elects new mayor

Staff Writer

The top news story here in 2017 was the election of a new mayor. The change in office is not that unusual, but for a man with no past political experience and only one campaign (a school board seat sought — but not attained — years ago) was the big news.
The election results, as well as a follow-up interview with the mayor-elect was reported on Dec. 6 and 7, thusly:
Marc Carroll, a political neophyte who has held several local leadership and volunteer positions, was elected to be the next mayor of Blackfoot, upending first-term incumbent Paul Loomis by more than 10 percentage points. He will be sworn into office at the next city council meeting in January.
The council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018.
Carroll received 674 votes or 55.43 percent, while Loomis received 542 votes or 44.57 percent. "You watch elections and hear comments from the candidates; they always seem so trite, Carroll said.
"I'm honored. I'm kind of absorbing this. I'm overwhelmed and humble. Paul and I are friends; that's not going to change. I'm sure he will invite me to sit in on things. As I said in the campaign, Blackfoot needs to have an identity. A steering committee meets tomorrow at 2 p.m. to begin the process of establishing this identity."
Fulfilling a promise made during two election campaigns, Mayor-elect Marc Carroll hit the ground running in his new position, not on his swearing-in day of Jan. 2, 2018, but the day after his stunning run-off election victory over incumbent Paul Loomis, a man he admitted he voted for — twice — in the last mayoral election.
“I just finished the first of a series of meetings with the Mayor,” said Carroll a longtime manager at the Idaho National Laboratory, as well as the director of the Blackfoot Transportation Department. “I want to utilize his expertise and reach out to others who can help make this transition as smooth as possible.”
He also maintained that while not always the smartest person in the room, he can certainly find that person and adds that this talent has led him to a successful 30-plus year management career and will be as important as the new chief executive of Blackfoot.
“After the transition, on Jan. 3, I plan to sit down with the city treasurer and discuss the implementation of the zero-based budgeting,” Carroll said. “Then, we will get the various department heads trained before we need to present the budget in February.”
Another vow during the campaign was to establish transparency and communication. “I think that things just happened in the city that was often not planned out very well,” he said. “I would immediately put together a citizen’s advisory council to study various issues.” Carroll also vows to work with the Blackfoot Morning News and write a regular op-ed piece to inform the public as to what’s going on as well as to establish an open door policy (and continue the previous administration’s policy).
“These steps will go a long way in allowing people to see what really goes on in this office,” he said. Carroll also indicated that his telephone line — like Loomis’ — will be answered by him personally. “I may not always agree with you,” he said, “but I will always listen to you.”
He added that his goal is to get more people involved with city government. “It’s terrible that more people do not attend City Council meetings,” he explained, “but they not always have the regular citizen’s in mind. Those events are not always geared to people.”
Carroll sought the office after the urging of friends and others who knew his service to the community and work at the INL. “Some people came up tome and asked me to seek this office, saying they had heard of my management style,” he said. “This was long before I even filed. Somehow, there was a rumor I was running for mayor.”
He praised his wife, Marilynn, and three daughters for actually kickstarting his campaign. Having never sought political office before, he found that his general election opponents (Loomis, Chase VanOrden and Jim Thomas) were far ahead of him in campaign literature and yard signs, so his family became his ad hoc campaign managers, purchasing items with their own money and even beginning a social media presence. “They really made a difference,” Carroll said.
Other people he formerly expressed appreciation for included Rande Carson, Linda and Max Collard (former owners of the Blackfoot Appliance outlet) and, ironically, his former opponent Thomas. “After the November election, he called me and offered to do whatever he could to help me in the run-off,” he said. “I had never met him before our first forum and was very surprised with this offer, but he had connections to the community in places I did not ignore that generosity.
“I appreciated his assistance and everyone else who worked so hard on these campaigns and the candidates who kept things so positive,” he said. “We did not try to tear each other down, like some other races featured. During the run-off, I wanted to highlight the differences between myself and the mayor, whom I have always gotten along with and believe he is a very good leader and man.We have different styles, but I am proud to call him a friend. I look forward to reaching out and being the new mayor.
“I am honestly overwhelmed and humbled by this election.” he concluded.