EDITOR'S NOTE: Links are to individual questionnaires from the Standard-Examiner filled out by the candidates.
OGDEN -- Eight mayoral hopefuls waxed political on a wide range of topics, including economic development and public safety, during a spirited candidates forum Tuesday night.
Gov. Gary Herbert made a surprise visit during the packed event in the Ben Lomond Suites Ballroom, 2510 Washington Blvd. The forum, sponsored by Ogden Noon Exchange Club and the Kiwanis Club of Ogden, was moderated by Fox 13 News anchor Max Roth.
Herbert thanked the audience for their interest in the upcoming Sept. 13 primary and Nov. 8 general election.
"One of the most important votes you will make is for local government leaders," the governor said.
However, the center of attention during the forum was the questions posed by Roth and the audience to mayoral candidates Jonny Ballard, Mike Caldwell, Jason Goddard, Neil Hansen, Brandon Stephenson, John H. Thompson, Susan "Susie" Van Hooser and Steven Van Wagoner.
An audience member asked the candidates what is the No. 1 problem facing Ogden.
Hansen, a former state representative, said the biggest issue is infrastructure needs.
Stephenson, who is a city council member, and Caldwell, who is director of the Ice Sheet and works for Weber County, said the main challenge is expanding the municipality's tax base, which would help solve infrastructure issues.
Van Wagoner, a business broker, said the city needs more businesses, other than just retail, that would provide jobs and stimulate the local economy.
"You bring retail in, but without jobs (from other businesses), you have no customers," he said.
Goddard, who owns Access Communications, also said bringing more jobs to Ogden is the city's biggest challenge.
Ballard said the most pressing challenge is for city officials to determine what companies need to relocate to Ogden.
Van Hooser, a city council member, said she believes the number one problem facing the city is openness in government. Thompson, who works for the Utah Office of Recovery Services, said the city needs consensus among residents, the mayor and city council to plan for the municipality's future.
The candidates were also asked what they would do to reduce gang violence and crime.
Ballard said by increasing the city's revenue stream, the city could hire more police officers.
"It comes down to money and boots on the ground," he said.
Van Hooser said she supports more community policing to keep neighborhoods safe.
Goddard said he favors neighborhood crime watch programs, which seem to be having success.
Thompson said crime in Ogden may be a perception problem, but he supports catching and prosecuting criminals.
Stephenson and Caldwell said a focus should be on technology to give police an advantage over criminals.
Hansen questioned why many Ogden police officers get hired only to quit and join other departments. Van Wagoner offered an explanation.
"Double dipping is the focus," he said regarding a practice that Ogden Police Department has used in the past, in which some retired officers have been rehired. "That's why police leave."