REXBURG – A non-traditional Brigham Young University-Idaho student, who works as the university’s building supervisor while also managing the Rexburg Farmer’s Market each summer, is running for Rexburg mayor.
“I feel like it’s important for younger people to be involved in politics and especially local government,” said Travis Brown, 30.
Brown is running against long time mayor, Jerry Merrill. Brown is the second millennial in the past eight years to run for the mayor’s office. In 2011, BYU-Idaho student, Eric Salcedo, of Houston, ran for mayor and lost to Mayor Richard Woodland.
Brown realizes that he’s a younger than usual candidate.
“I feel it’s OK to be young. There are people who are younger than I am who have already started and operated successful businesses,” he said.
Brown says that millennials often get a bad rap for being lazy and for feeling entitled. They are not all that way, he said.
“I know several millennials who are just workhorses and love to hustle in getting things done. Nothing slows them down,” he said.
Brown says that while Rexburg provides a small town timeless feel, there’s a great sense of innovation and prosperity here.
“I think it’s very very appropriate to move forward with the times and hold on to tradition,” he said
Brown said that should he be elected, his goal is to help the BYU-Idaho student population and Rexburg residents unite as one community. Brown said he’s witnessed that happening during the weekly farmers markets held each summer.
“I love being able to see the community and college students come together. It was never something we pushed for initially. We were just trying to set up a successful farmers market ” he said. “Promoting the Rexburg Farmer’s Market as itself has allowed that unity to happen naturally.”
As mayor, Brown plans to offer more transparency and would do so by live streaming city council meetings on social media.
“A lot of people can’t go to meetings, and the minutes show up two weeks after city council. I’m pushing to inform the public through social media. I feel Rexburg is full of people who love Facebook and Instagram. The city has those, and I feel those are being under utilized,” he said. “I want to let people know when things are happening. I want to make it easier for people to get involved. I invite them to get more involved”
As mayor, Brown plans to finalize the much talked about Rexburg Dog Park. He recalled that the city announced such a venture in 2013 and revisited the idea again in 2017.
“They had budgeted $100,000 for it. It still hasn’t been done. People at city hall are not making it a priority. It’s something that would greatly benefit everyone in the community,” he said.
Brown would also like to see Rexburg businesses continue to grow and to provide top wages to workers.
“What’s hard right now is that Rexburg has one of the lowest average annual incomes. That is something that’s holding the economy back. People, who live here, don’t have expendable income. So I feel, if we can help business grow to create more competitive wages, that (cash) will return to those business (because) people are making more money to spend,” he said.
As mayor, Brown would also work to improve the city’s infrastructure.
“A lot of people have approached me and have asked me my view on road maintenance and snow removal in the winter. That’s very high on my priority list. The biggest issue with snow removal is the cost for the labor, hiring people and having them spend hours and hours running the machinery to clear roads. We can be better stewards and reallocate those funds to promote that,” he said.
Should he be elected, Brown plans to continue working at BYU-Idaho on a three-fourths time basis. At the university, he oversees maintenance in the Kimble Building. He’s also the coordinator at the student health care center and the university’s communication building.
Brown is married to Abigail, and the couple has a 17-month-old daughter named Adeline.
Brown said he got the idea to become a candidate earlier this year.
“I decided to run for mayor toward the end of the summer and just a few weeks prior to the opportunity to declare candidacy,” he said.
As for being a young candidate, Brown believes his youth is an advantage, but also realizes that some voters might hold his youth against him.
“There are people who would also commend me for being so young and being involved,” he said.
The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. For more information on voting call the Madison County Courthouse at 208-359-6200.