Ogden District 4 candidates talk taxes, schools, chickens

Monday , October 12, 2015 - 5:43 PM2 comments

OGDEN — The issues debated by Ogden’s District 4 council candidates reflected the city’s diverse needs, running the gamut from police pay to backyard chickens, graduation rates, multiculturalism, vacant storefronts, homelessness, and roads and sidewalks in disrepair.

But candidates Daniel Gladwell and Ben Nadolski did not shy away from any question during the forum hosted Friday by the American Democracy Project at Weber State University.

When asked what they would do to help improve Ogden’s poor high school graduation rates, Gladwell — who works as an accountant for the U.S. Air Force — suggested the curriculum should be tailored more specifically toward outfitting students for Ogden’s influx of new jobs.

“Schools need to meet with businesses who are relocating here,” Gladwell said. “When students know they’re going to get skills for work, they’ll be more engaged and want to graduate because they’ll know there’s a job waiting for them.”

But Nadolski — who works as a policy analyst for the Utah Department of Natural Resources — took a different tack.

“I think it all starts with pre-kindergarten education and making sure our kids are up to speed at an early age,” Nadolski said, adding that he’d also help the city stabilize its neighborhoods, housing and incomes so that children could enjoy a home life that would support their academic endeavors.

• RELATED: Districts face pressure to raise graduation rates

When asked how the city could finance upgrades to roads, sidewalks, curb, gutter and sewer, the two also diverged.

To Gladwell, it came down to setting priorities and working within the current budget to reappropriate dollars for those projects. For starters, he’d trim the city council budget to pay to help finance road upgrades.

“I’m a huge fan of sidewalks,” Gladwell said. “I am not opposed to taking a percentage of money from each of the budgets in Ogden, whether its one, two or three percent — and just putting that right toward sidewalks.”

But Nadolski said he considers infrastructure to be incredibly important and urged voters to check yes on Proposition One on their ballots  — a quarter-cent sales tax (groceries excluded) to help fund city and county projects plus expanded public transit service.

“We can’t just take money from any individual department to fix problems that are this big,” Nadolski said. We’re going to need to think a lot bigger if we’re going to solve these problems of these pipes that are crumbling beneath our feet.”

Both candidates said they encountered a lot of interest in backyard chickens as they knocked on doors throughout their district.

• RELATED: Ogden's ban on backyard chickens irks urban millennials

While Gladwell said he supported the idea of urban farming and people getting close to their food source, he believed that one chicken per household member would be about right.

But Nadolski saw the issue as more complex and came out against allowing home-kept hens on Ogden’s smaller lots.

“A lot of communities around us are doing it,” Nadolski said, “but they generally have larger lot sizes, so that lends itself to a lot more ability to have chickens without disturbing your neighborhoods.”

Both candidates said they embraced multiculturalism as an important part of the city’s fabric.

 RELATED: Ogden city council welcomes huge Latino contingent

“Forty percent of our community is Hispanic,” Nadolski said. “They are thriving and they are also struggling.”

If a Hispanic were elected to city government, Nadolski believes that would go a long way to building trust.

“As it is now, people in that community do not trust government because they are listening to the Donald Trumps and the national news,” Nadolski said. “They don’t want to go and ask the city for an extra garbage can because they are scared.”

Gladwell urged more support in terms of learning English and helping with job training, adding that it’s not up to the city council to decide if people from other countries are here illegally.

“If they’re here, we love them and embrace them,” Gladwell said, “and show them how to be good members of society.”

While Ogden voters received their mail-in ballots last week, they still have a few more opportunities to hear from the candidates running for mayor and two council seats.

* On Thursday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m., the Ogden Trolley District is hosting a Meet the Candidates town hall forum at 2604 Jefferson Ave. 

* On Monday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m., Ogden’s two mayoral candidates — incumbent Mike Caldwell and challenger Sebastian Benitez — will face off in the Garden Room of Weber State University’s Alumni Center, 1235 E. 4100 South.

* On Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. Ogden’s mayoral and council candidates will debate at Ogden High School, 2828 Harrison Blvd.

Ballots can either be mailed in or dropped off at a few locations on Election Day, Nov. 2. Voters can also vote by machine at select sites.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.