The city of Twin Falls, Idaho, has a first in the mayor's office: a former city employee. Don Hall, who worked as a police officer for the city for twelve years, was voted in to the office by an unanimous vote by the city council. Hall, who currently for the College of Southern Idaho, is a graduate of Gooding high school and Idaho State University, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Human Resources.
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Twin Falls City Council selects new mayor
Twin Falls' newest mayor, Don Hall, has come full circle.
First he worked as a police officer for 12 years for the city of Twin Falls, and now he is on the other side heading City Council as mayor. Mayor Hall was elected unanimously on Jan. 4, 2010 by his peers on the City Council.
Unlike some elected representatives who run for office in order to more effectively “fight city hall,” Mayor Hall says for the most part he just wants to make city hall work even better.
“This is my true feeling: I think we have the best form of government here in Twin Falls. That’s the city manager form of government,” he said.
Twin Falls is one of only three cities in Idaho with the city manager form of government, but more than 60 percent of the cities throughout the U.S. with a population of more than 25,000 use this form of government. This structure, which started in 1908, is also used by more than 370 counties. More than 92 million people in the U.S. live in communities that operate under the council-manager form of local government.
Said Hall, “Really, I think government should be more like private industry. Good-sized companies that have $30 million, $50 million, or $100 million budgets, hire CEOs who run the company with the oversight of a board of directors. A CEO, or manager, of a city has the education and the training to run a city, and he accepts the guidance of a city council that is proactive in the community.”
When Hall served as a police officer from 1988 until 2000, he worked under City Manager Tom Courtney, and now he is working again with Courtney, who’s been with the city for 33 years.
Courtney said during his tenure it has never occurred that a mayor once worked for the city.
When Hall hired on in '88 with the Twin Falls Police Department, he had already worked as a fire fighter for the U.S. Forest Service, and he had also served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years as a crash crew man, a position that involves fire fighting. As a police officer, he initially worked as a cross-trained officer serving as both a policeman and a fire fighter. He made it to police staff sergeant after working as a D.A.R.E. officer, school resource officer and a member of the S.W.A.T. team. He said he moved on when he felt like it was time to “broaden my horizons and serve my community in a different way.”
That meant working as the director of the Boys and Girls Club of Magic Valley for eight years. Meanwhile the Gooding High School graduate was finishing his bachelor’s degree in human resources from Idaho State University.
“My wife and three children were very patient with me,” he said, acknowledging the grueling schedule. But also, this was the period of time when he was serving on a number of community boards and commissions.
Mayor Hall left serving the public, but only for a year, when he went to work at Canyon Crest Restaurant and Event Center as the establishment’s events coordinator, but “I needed to get back into public service,” he said. These days you will find him at the College of Southern Idaho working as a project manager, a job that includes administering grants and also helping students with scholarships.
Being employed at CSI and serving as mayor of Twin Falls at the same time presents extraordinary opportunities, Hall said.
“Part of CSI’s mission as a community college to help with workforce development,” he said. “One of my immediate goals with the economy the way it is right now is to encourage the Council, the community and the city staff to work together to bring in good jobs with good benefits. The beautiful thing here is that our college can step up to the plate and help the community grow.”