In 2011, Robert Chambers made a big career change: director of planning and development services for the city of Pocatello to teaching religion at BYU-Idaho.

Two years ago, Rexburg held elections to elect three new members to the city council. Nine members of the community ran for multiple open seats in November 2021. Chambers was one of three winners, joined by Mikel Walker and Colin Erickson.

“When I made a career change from the public sector to come here and teach in religious education I found that I kind of missed my work with local government,” Chambers said. “I decided to run to satisfy that desire to keep a foot in a realm that I spent so many years working in so many years studying about.”

Working on city councils is not unfamiliar to Chambers. He spent six years working on the Pocatello city council.

Chambers said the highlight of his time on the council so far has been working with the mayor and fellow councilmembers. He enjoys the behind-the-scenes of working with city staff and members of the community to solve problems and brainstorm ideas for making the city better.

Conflict is inevitable with so many opportunities for dialogue between city council members and the public.

“It sounds odd that I would seek work in the public sector when I dislike contention, but I do,” Chambers said. “I don’t enjoy it. And for me, that’s the worst part is when people make assumptions about the decisions you make and attack your character, or they have no tolerance for other points of view. And as a result, conflict ensues.”

Chambers currently serves as the department chair of the religion department. His love for teaching occupies a similar place in his heart as his love for public service.

“When I decided to make a career change, I thought what could be better than teaching full time what I love and that’s my religion,” Chambers said. “That has proved to be the case. It’s just been a delight. I get paid to come and study the gospel every day and teach it to wonderful students and work with wonderful colleagues.”

Chamber’s religious beliefs impact his views about government.

“I do believe that governments are instituted by God for the benefit of men,” Chambers said. “I don’t think being left alone is a governing principle in the eternities. Learning how to govern and learning how to be governed, I think is an essential part of what we believe in the church.”

Government is all about relationships for Chambers. He said governments have the responsibility of preserving and maintaining these relationships. The relationships local governments cultivate will help the city withstand difficulties.

Chambers outlined several ideas he had to make Rexburg better and improve his time on the city council:

— Help Rexburg want to grow and grow efficiently

— Keep downtown Rexburg a healthy and viable gathering place where people can feel safe and where businesses can prosper

— Hold more work sessions as a city council.

Chambers sees the work sessions as opportunities. During these meetings, city council members can sit down and talk about how they feel about certain issues in the community.

Even though Chambers has not lived in Rexburg as long as some of his colleagues, he expressed a profound love for the city.

“I want to learn everything I can about Rexburg and the people here and what they want,” Chambers said.

Chambers will serve on the council for three more years until the next election in 2025.