Connell council candidates eye business, promoting city

CONNELL -- Connell City Council candidate Bob Widows wants you to vote, just not for him.

It's too late to withdraw from the Nov. 3 race, so he's stumping for the other guy.

"I think (Mayor Gary Walton) does a pretty good job," Widows said. "I couldn't do a better job."

Widows, a 63-year-old farm laborer, entered the mayor's race because he "thought more people would run."

Now, Widows is having second thoughts about his run for the four-year position.

"For one thing, I think it's more trouble than I want to get into," he said.

The incumbent Walton, 61, has spent 24 years serving Connell, with 12 as its mayor. He said the community's slumping economy is its biggest issue. To attract and sustain new businesses, Walton, who works for CenturyTel, said more homes need to be built. That's happening, he said, citing two housing developments that could add hundreds of new houses to the town.

Candidate Lee Barrow, who is running for at-large Position 4 on the council against Esther Daza-Bailie, agrees Connell's economy needs to be addressed. Barrow, a 43-year-old detective with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, said the city needs to strengthen its economic development efforts and put more signs along Highway 395 to bring motorists off the road and into town.

"I think we need to promote Connell," he said.

This is Barrow's first run at a city council position. He unsuccessfully ran for a spot on the Franklin County Commission last year.

Daza-Bailie wants to strengthen connections with groups like the chamber of commerce to promote the city and boost its economy. How that boost will take shape, she said, is up to the residents.

"I see the city right now as really having to find an identity to market," she said. "The city itself will have to decide how that identity will look."

Daza-Bailie, a counselor at Connell High School, lived in Connell as a child and moved back to town about two years ago. If elected, she said, she'd act "more as a support and a voice for the people" as opposed to "coming in and saying, 'This is what I want.' "

Daza-Bailie, 36, spent time in Colombia as a child. She is bilingual, an asset she said would be useful in communicating with Connell's Hispanic community.

Connell city council members are paid $1,200 annually. The mayor is paid $3,600 annually. The council meets twice each month.

The general election is Nov. 3, and ballots will be sent out Friday.

For more election coverage, go to www.tricityherald.com/election.

-- Drew Foster: 509-585-7207; dfoster@tricityherald.com