Chris Johnson, 42, is running for Bellevue City Council because he believes the city needs to grow thoughtfully and sustainably. Previously of Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson served 16 years in the Army and has been involved in city government since he moved to Bellevue in 2016.
Johnson, who has a bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies from the University of Colorado and said he has always been interested in the ways that cities grow, has served on Bellevue’s Planning & Zoning Commission since 2016. From that experience, he’s gotten a chance to see how the city is growing, going over accessory dwelling unit applications, reviewing conditional-use permits and seeing the trend in modular homes over on-site-built homes. He said that while he believes the city should continue to grow, it should do so consciously, keeping in mind what most people in Idaho want—open space.
“Keep the openness of Idaho,” Johnson said in an interview Monday.
That’s part of why Johnson and his wife, Teressa, moved here. Because they live close to the proposed Strahorn development, Johnson has had to recuse himself from voting on anything to do with Strahorn during P&Z meetings, and will be required to do the same if elected to the City Council. He said he is not opposed to the development, but questioned whether it will result in affordable housing, given the current real estate market in Blaine County.
Regarding the city’s budget, Johnson said looking for federal and state grant opportunities could be one way to make improvements to the city. In addition, he said more funding needs to go toward the Marshal’s Office, which he said is “flooded” in terms of the amount of investigations it conducts in addition to daily patrol operations. Johnson also said wages there need to increase to retain and attract quality law-enforcement officers.
Though he faces no opponent, Johnson said that if there were, he would most likely be the most qualified candidate because of his experience on the P&Z and his knowledge and personal understanding of what’s going on within the city. He also has years of leadership experience from his time as an infantry platoon sergeant in the Army.
“I feel I can bring a lot to the city,” he said.
Johnson now works for the Idaho Rural Water Association, a nonprofit corporation that provides training and technical assistance to water and wastewater facilities in Idaho with populations under 10,000, and his wife works as director of youth development at the YMCA in Ketchum.
If elected, Johnson will fill the seat of Councilman Mike Choat, who was appointed to the two-year-term seat by Mayor Ned Burns, who was elected last November and still had one year of his council seat left. There are two other two-year-term seats up for election, Kathryn Goldman’s and Shaun Mahoney’s; both are running unopposed to retain their seats.
Those interested in running as a write-in candidate have until Oct. 8 to file a declaration with the city clerk indicating the office and term for which they are running and affirming their qualifications to hold office. For more information, visit the Bellevue city website at bellevueidaho.us.