CENTERVILLE -- For many candidates, the biggest issues facing the city include the economy, UTOPIA, and bringing new business to the area.
Kay Ashton, 55, a mortgage banker, has not had previous experience, but he believes his passion for keeping Centerville a good place to live and raise a family will guide him in serving the residents.
Though he does not have a single issue he wants to focus on, he believes the economy will be something that is an issue in the next few years.
"As we work with tough economic times and look to the bright future of Centerville, I'm very interested in wise growth, both in commercial and residential areas," he said.
Incumbent Ken Averett, 50, a co-owner and broker for Keystone Real Estate Group, said the city council has made good strides toward attracting business and is pleased with what the city council has accomplished in the last four years.
Accomplishments include approving a balanced budget each year, even with declining city revenues. The council has also maintained vital services and programs while adding new ones, such as green waste recycling and community entertainment in the park, he said.
"Even with the downturn in the economy, we have attracted quality businesses to our city," he said, pointing to developments such as Chili's, Iggy's, In-N-Out, Kohls, and Megaplex Theaters as well as the Davis Center for the Performing Arts.
If re-elected, he wants to continue working to provide such growth for the residents.
John Higginson, a 37-year-old supply change manager for OC Tanner Company, also believes that future growth is important. He said it is necessary to responsibly plan the growth of the city and maintain the quality of life.
Doing that means mitigating the increasingly busy Parrish Lane, protecting the foothills and ensuring that what is developed on the west side matches its surroundings.
"If we don't plan carefully, the city will be overrun with traffic congestion," he said.
Incumbent Lawrence Wright, 58, who works in higher education and is a retired military veteran, also believes that the economy needs to be the focus. He said government services need to be more efficient and less costly. This means a top to bottom review of city spending.
"We need to build business opportunities for growth to create local jobs," he added. "I believe this will make our city economically stronger and more resistant to the strains created by a weak national economy."
While these three candidates focused on economy, two others see another issue.
George McEwan, 41, a mechanical engineer, plans to work to correct the disparity in hook-up fees that UTOPIA wants to charge Centerville households. He states this fee is $3,000 while households in other cities are paying an average of $99.
"Since UTOPIA has spent $210 million of taxpayer money and is now eating up an additional $16.2 million in federal stimulus dollars, it is beyond reason to ask for more money on top," he said. "No taxpayer-funded system should be allowed to cherry pick and give services to rich taxpayers, while the poor are still paying taxes without access."
His plan, if elected, is to establish fair access while controlling fees.
Kevin Daly, 32, a bank and credit union examiner, also believes UTOPIA plays a role in the challenges the city faces.
He said it is important for residents to elect candidates with strong financial capabilities to ensure the fiscal strength of the city during the tough economic times, especially with the strain caused by reduced tax revenue and UTOPIA.
If elected, he wants to ensure the city promotes development of the west side by establishing attractive office space and commercial space and uses clear guidelines to preserve the foothills above Centerville.
McKay Christensen, 42, who works in the family business, Golden Stag Gloves, agrees. His motivation for running is that he feels the average resident is not being heard. He wants to change that.
"We have reached a time where I believe we have to stop asking more of the taxpayer than of the government," he said. "I truly believe that the government needs to work off of the taxes that they are receiving and develop their budgets based on these taxes.
"The time has passed for the local government to keep asking more of its (residents)," he said.
His plan is to make hard decisions that keep money in the taxpayers' pockets and do not place heavier burdens on residents.
Annadel Nelson, 43, a Kellogg Company account executive, also feels that fiscal responsibility and transparency are major issues in the election.
"It is imperative that tax dollars are not being spent on things the government should not be involved in, and that the (residents) should be completely informed and have a say in where their tax dollars go," she said.
She hopes to help the city develop a pay-as-you-go system and stop spending money on debt interest. Nelson also wants to see a pedestrian access on Parrish Lane across the freeway to Legacy Parkway and the new development.