Tonight was the "Meet the Candidate" night at City Hall. I thought all the candidates did a great job representing themselves.
The event was hosted by the Taylorsville Exchange Club, who did a wonderful job. Special thanks to Jay Ziolkowski for moderating, and John Inch Morgan for providing the refreshments.
If you missed this one and are interested in attending another "Meet the Candidate" event, come to City Hall next Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 4:30 p.m. for another one hosted by the Economic Development Committee.
Below are the comments made by each of the candidates. I hope I am representing their comments well. (Candidates, if there is something that is incorrect, please email me and I will get it changed asap.)
DISTRICT 3 -
Dave Ballou - He has seen things in the city that he doesn't like and that has given him the desire to run for the council. He said he was sitting on the fence for UPD, but recently interrogated Jim Winder about UPD. As a citizen, he is in favor of joining UPD. He is also in favor of beautification. He says taxes and services are a must. We want our snow removed, weeds removed, and they take money. Our property taxes are high, even though we have a low tax rate. This year when there was a tax increase proposed, many people came and opposed it. He agreed that taxes shouldn't go up. He wants to look at other ways to get revenue, possibly from renters, who live here tax-free. He has not had the opportunity to serve on committees for the city, but is planning to be involved after the election. He spends time cleaning up 1300 West with his resources and time, as well as helping others in their yards to help the community. With regard to UPD, he said he thought the way Jerry did, until he went seeking information on this issue. He has done ride-alongs and met with UPD to find out the answers. He feels like UPD is probably a good switch for the city. If UPD causes taxes to go up, he doesn't care, if it makes our city safer and have better service. It is the council member's responsibility to get out in the district and find out what people want. During his ride-alongs, he has seen that the police department is short-handed. He saw people on hold because there wasn't enough staff to take care of the police calls. On the court... he is absolutely opposed to the council shutting down the drug court. He believes rehabilitation is the key to helping our society. There is a perception with the public that we have too many empty buildings. The Family Center does not look inviting. Valley Fair Mall is now the place to go. Hiring Don Adams has been a great move for Economic Development. He is excited to get involved in Economic Development and wants to help the city get tenants back in and get sales tax up. We don't want to be the "Ugly Little Step-Sister" to West Valley. In closing, he is for whatever his constituents want. As a resident who has approached the council with problems, he feels like his problems were not taken care of timely, if at all. The role of the council is to listen to people and act. He can spend the time to take care of his residents and listen to their concerns and fix them.
Jerry Rechtenbach - He said he served the city before deciding to run for city council. He feels he has the necessary experience and has qualified himself for the job. We are competing with other neighboring cities, for business. Economic Development is a huge priority to get us revenue. Taylorsville is the most leanly operated city in the state and we do not have high property taxes. He feels that our taxes are very reasonable. The last few years the city has cut services to make ends meet. If our revenue stream goes down and our expense stream goes up, then we don't have the ability to pay for these services. We are competing for retail. At some point we need to stop being the cheapest city and start to reinvest in our city to attract businesses and revenue. When asked what experience he has, he said he is a member of the Public Safety Committee, Arts Council Board of Directors, prior Planning Commissioner, and many other committees and boards. UPD is the topic asked the most about, but the topic that we know the least about. He is not for or against UPD, but just doesn't have enough information to make the decision. He feels that the costs are undetermined and the UPD is too young. He is 100% in favor of our justice court, drug court, and domestic violence court. Separation of powers does not let the council administrate the court. For several years the court was hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red. The council insisted that it should be brought back in line. He feels that recently the court has been doing much better. The council had no choice on closing the drug court. It was closed down by another entity and he supports opening the drug court as soon as it is brought into compliance. On Economic Development... it has been a priority for the council for the past 3-4 years. The stage is being set for some good retailers to come in. We need to look at redevelopment areas. Using redevelopment area funds, the city is participating in 5400 S. Bangerter Hwy to prepare for some great businesses to come in. Incentives need to be in place and the council needs to be on board, so those calling the shots can do what they need to do. In closing, residents need to realize that Valley Fair took many years to make that happen. It didn't happen overnight. It required a lot of money from the city and a willing property owner to make it happen. When we get our major tenants on board, we will be ready to make things happen.
District 2 -
Morris Pratt - Economic Development is a vital thing to fund city services. He commended the Economic Development team in their service and says they are backed by the $10 million bond that the council recently passed. The concept of UPD is very good and he is for consolidation. He doesn't think it's a good idea for the city to jump into it right now. He has historically opposed a tax increase and is very proud of our low tax rate. He is not necessarily opposed to taxes, but is in favor of keeping them as low as possible. He is worried about the many seniors and mobile home park users in his district and what a tax increase would do to them. He believes he has served on almost every committee in the city. He has participated in the Taylorsville Food Bank and enjoyed serving on the Taylorsville Historic Preservation Committee. He has helped publish a book about Taylorsville. In regard to UPD, he is opposed to us joining UPD right now. He is not opposed to the concept or joining down the road. He doesn't want it to be like Utopia. The city was asked several years ago to join, but didn't and it saved us money. UPD has to iron out a lot of things in their budget. The opportunities they present are great, but there must be a reasonable and good model to follow. We don't want to pay more than our share for the service. He believes that the city is studying this issue. In regards to the court. He is proud of the court in the recent months. They are operating either in the black or just barely in the red. He's hearing a lot of good things about them. He doesn't want to spend more money than we have in the past. On Economic Development... it is like Alaska in the winter and moves very slowly. We are competing with surrounding cities and we are all fighting for the same retailers to come to the city. We need to think outside the box. We approved a $10 million bond and established an economic development fund. As responsible citizens, we need to support our local businesses. The Council has done their job and now it's up to the city staff to get the job done. In closing, it is very brave for all the candidates to be willing to run. Experience counts. He feels he knows and understands the budget to administer it. This is not just a three-hour per week commitment. The opportunities to serve take time. He is aware of your wants and aware of your needs.
Kristie Steadman Overson - She shared parts of a speech she wrote when she was 15, called, "Taylorsville is..." She is proud to have been a life-long resident of Taylorsville. She served on a lot of committees, including on the Planning Commission for over 10 years. She supports joining UPD, economic development, code enforcement, street beautification, and a proposed historic district. We should be proud of our low tax rate, however, we need to be sure the critical needs are met and we need to plan for the future. Some residents are concerned about snow removal and road maintenance, but those things cost money. The things we spend money on should benefit us in the long run, not just today. Spending 10 years on the Planning Commission has given her the opportunity to make tough decisions that affect the residents of Taylorsville. With regard to UPD, she feels like she did her homework. She's met with our Chief PD, Sheriff Winder, former Mayor Auger, and attended UPD board meetings. UPD seems to be the right move. She gets annoyed when council members say it just doesn't seem right. Why aren't we using the Budget Committee to look at this and give a recommendation? Why isn't the council studying this issue? Instead of saying we don't know about this, we should be looking into it to see if this helps with our public safety and saves taxes with our hard-earned dollars. On the courts... she was grateful to have a meeting with the Judge to see how the court operated. Her philosophical question is, "Should the court make money for the city and turn a profit?" Is the purpose of the court to get criminals off the street, to rehabilitate them? Or is the purpose to make money? We need to identify the expectation of the court. On Economic Development... She is very impressed with the city's 10-year strategic plan. It gives a vision and asks for accountability. The city has an Economic Development team that is very competent, strong and bold. ED doesn't just mean bringing a big box in the city. It means evaluating what we have and what our strengths are. We need to identify our strengths, like the Salt Lake Community College. What are we doing to attract those students to shop here? We have many opportunities to do this. In closing... She has been working hard for years for this elected position. She is thoughtful in her decision-making. She's already had a full-time job in campaigning, so is ready to serve in this position full time. She's appreciated getting to know people in District 2.
District 1 -
Israel Grossman - He is a member of the Budget Review and Economic Development committees. He wants Taylorsville to be a destination city, not a drive-through city. We should create vibrant retail and employment centers so we can strengthen sales tax revenue and avoid tax increases. Whether we go with UPD or stay with TPD, we should adequately fund it. He wants to strengthen the sales tax revenue so we can keep our taxes low. We need to spend tax dollars wisely and not make budget decisions now that will negatively impact us in the future. By deferring road maintenance now, it costs us five or 10 times more in the future to repair them. He is not for or against UPD, but is for public safety. We should be diving into the proposal to see if this is a viable option. With UPD, they provide the service based on what we budget. The city council should be looking to see if it's a good fit and do the research. At the end of the day, we need to adequately fund public safety. On court... he was impressed with Judge Kwan's statement on educating criminals to help them reform. He is in favor of the consolidated court that we offer because it saves the city money and is more efficient. Currently the court has to provide a profit and loss statement every month. He believes the council needs to figure out their philosophy. We need to revitalize neighborhoods and bring in anchor-tenants to help attract to other businesses. He wants to take his family out on the town and it's hard to do right now in Taylorsville. He wants to grow a community that we can be proud of, where we can spend our hard-earned money here. In closing... he is humbled by the fact that friends and neighbors have sought him out to see if he would run. He wants "Opportunity in every Direction" to mean something with economic development. He wants to make Taylorsville a place to be proud of.
Ernest Burgess - He grew up in Provo and is grateful to raise his large family in Taylorsville. He has served on the Planning Commission for the past 2 1/2 years. He has grown to appreciate the mayor, city administration, and all the committee and volunteers. He feels strongly that economic development is the big issue. We need to use the Economic Development task force and shop in Taylorsville to keep tax dollars here. Our tax dollars should be spent wisely. The council gets very concerned about the amount we spend and stays on top of it. The main volunteer position he has held in the city is a member of the Planning Commission. He has also been somewhat involved in the Exchange Club. In regards to UPD, he spoke with Chief Craig and he had some questions about the cost and resources. He said there hasn't been a proposal yet and he wants to wait to see if it's the right thing. He had his car stolen last week and was grateful to get it back by that evening. He said Chief Craig said we have a great department. On the courts... he thinks the court is working well and is impressed with the Judge and the things that are happening. On Economic Development... it's going to take some time. He is impressed with the software program that the economic development department is using. He agrees with the philosophy of that department. He believes we need to reinvest in ourselves. He is grateful to see the administration have a focus on it. In closing... being on the PC has been a real learning experience and being on the City Council would be the same. He wants to make sure he knows how the people feel and how to make the city go forward. He's enjoyed the process of understanding more about the city and how it is run. He is impressed with all those who serve and he would serve with all his heart as a good council member.