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July 26, 2021

EAST IDAHO ELECTS: Three candidates contending for Ammon City Council seat

AMMON — An incumbent city councilman is retiring, and three people are seeking to replace him.

Ammon City Council President Brian Powell recently announced that he would not seek reelection in seat five. D. Ray Ellis, Josh Wheeler and Debra W. Clapp are all contending for the seat.

There are two other open city council seats in Ammon. Incumbent Rex Thompson is running unopposed in one race and incumbent Scott Wessel is also unopposed after opponent Karen Anderson withdrew from the race earlier this month.

City elections will be held Nov. 5.

Josh Wheeler

Josh Wheeler | Courtesy Josh Wheeler

Josh Wheeler grew up in Ammon and graduated from Hillcrest High School. He studied construction management at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and later got his MBA at Idaho State University. He is one of the owners of Wheeler Electric in Idaho Falls.

Wheeler decided, in part, to run for city council due to his experiences with the community while his recently deceased son was sick with cancer.

“I was incredibly impressed and moved by our community’s response. It just reminded me of the caliber of people that live in Ammon,” Wheeler said. “Throughout the course of that illness, I just felt this sense of urgency that I needed to be more involved in politics and find a way to give back.”

He decided running for city council was the best way he could give back to the community and make a difference.

“We feel that one of the biggest issues is that we need to work to do a better job of communicating with the residents of Ammon and to listen to residents and hear them,” Wheeler said.

He said he feels he could do a better job than the current city council has done at communicating with residents about water metering and water rates.

“I want (voters) to know that I will listen and that I will work to be their voice in Ammon,” Wheeler said.

Find out more about Wheeler on his Facebook page Josh Wheeler for Ammon City Council.

Debra W. Clapp

Debra Clap | Courtesy Debra Clapp

Debra Clapp has lived most of her married life in Ammon where she raised her five children. She has been involved in the community through scouting and her church. Clapp previously ran for city council four years ago.

“I’ve just had a desire, all this time, to continue serving my community. And I feel (running for city council) is one of the ways I can do it,” Clapp told EastIdahoNews.com. “The new areas in our community all have new infrastructure but we still have the lead pipes in the ground.”

One of Clapp’s biggest concerns for the city of Ammon is the infrastructure in the older neighborhoods. She said, while some infrastructure improvements have been started, she feels the city could be doing more.

“The infrastructure in our ground where I live has not been updated since it was put it. And in, what the people call old Ammon, the original townsite, it has not been updated. And those things need to be updated,” she said.

Clapp said she is in favor of the city’s choice to move to a metered water rate, though, she understands there are some hard feelings in the community about it.

“I want to make my neighbors and friends and community people more aware that this is a more fair way for everyone to pay for what they’re using,” she said.

She said, more importantly, she wants to be able to serve the people of Ammon.

“I’ve just always had a desire to do more for my community,” Clapp said.

Clapp does not currently have a Facebook page or campaign website.

D. Ray Ellis

Ray Ellis

D. Ray Ellis was elected to the Ammon City Council in 2008. He served as a councilman for a year and a half and then went on to direct the city public works department until retiring in April this year.

“We probably have, I think, the best training, the best equipped public works department anywhere in the state. We’ve been able to do a lot of work inhouse with the proper equipment and the proper training,” Ellis told EastIdahoNews.com.

Ellis said he first became interested in politics when he worked in the construction industry. He said during that time he was involved in some of the issues that were facing Ammon. He believes his experience working with the city as a private businessman, then as a councilman and finally directing public works sets him apart as a candidate.

“I understand both ends of the spectrum and I think that knowledge gives me an advantage as we work towards the future,” he said.

Now he wants to make sure the older parts of Ammon are represented on the city council.

“All of the representation is from the more modern, more up to date neighborhoods and I just felt like it was time that the older part of town got represented,” Ellis said.

He said he believes the biggest issues facing Ammon, including water metering and water rates, are centered around the city’s budget.

“I think our overhead’s too high. I think there are things at the top end of government that we’re paying too much for. And that gets passed on (to taxpayers) of course,” Ellis said.

Ellis does not yet a Facebook page or a campaign website as of yet.

This article was originally published on East Idaho News.

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