Seven seeking office in Hooper

Aug 29 2011 - 11:44pm

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HOOPER -- As Hooper transitions from its rural roots to a fledgling city, the seven men and women vying for spots on its city council each want a hand in steering that growth.

Two are incumbents Vicki Fowers and Richard Hull, who still lives on a farm near the one he grew up on. But both he and Fowers see a bigger future for their town beyond the hayfields and cattle.

The five new candidates were attracted to the two at-large seats that are up for grabs because they too want a hand in what becomes of Hooper.

The city's population nearly doubled from about 4,000 in 2000 to about 7,200 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

All seven candidates say they realize that Hooper cannot remain the completely rural town it once was. Each sees the potential of increasing the tax base and attracting new businesses to the city.

Yet they also recognize that Hooper has a lot of residents, old and new, who are attracted by the city's still-existent small-town vibe.

"Over the last few years, there have been a lot of new houses, new subdivisions, and at some point there's going to have to be big decisions on where things go," said candidate Kyle Cooke, an employee of L-3 Communications.

Other candidates have far-reaching ideas of what Hooper's future should include. Besides new businesses and a widened tax base, candidate Jeff Plane wants to see new walking and biking trails along the lakeshore.

Shawn Beus, who heads Ogden Reinvestment Corp., a nonprofit that lends money to small businesses, is also on the Hooper Planning Commission. Beyond commercial development, he has a goal of merging Hooper with unincorporated residents in Davis County, a feat he feels he could navigate with his prior experience as a lawyer. He also wants more affordable housing in Hooper, which he feels lacks economic diversity.

Big leaps in development give other candidates pause.

"I'm not afraid or opposed to change, but you have to do it in a way that works for the old-timers," said candidate Nicolle Brown, treasurer for the Hooper Irrigation Company. "I prefer a rural community, but times are changing. You have to move forward at a pace that's acceptable for everybody."

Fowers does not want to see Hooper lose its farming-community identity.

"For some reason, our city council has become very developer-friendly," she said.

She would love to see a new strip mall, with a coffee shop or pharmacy. But she condemned the idea of building new homes that sit unused and become what she sees as a drain on the city.

As the Sept. 13 primary moves closer, candidates will have to distinguish and sell themselves to each demographic.

Beyond the zoning, commercial and residential issues, on which he is more wait-and-see, candidate Paul Bowden, a 15-year National Guard reservist, said he would like to see Hooper have more community activities that bring its residents out and give them a chance to build stronger bonds as neighbors.

But Cooke said, as far as he can tell he would be happy no matter who the older and newer residents go for. The way he sees it:

"I'm really excited, but there's a lot of good candidates I would vote for myself, and I would feel comfortable with any of them."

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