OGDEN -- In a surprising move, a city council candidate abruptly dropped out of the race and threw his support behind an opponent during a voters forum Wednesday night.
Todd R. Wallis, who was running for the council's Municipal Ward 2 seat, told an audience gathered at Union Station he has decided to endorse the campaign of C. Jon White. "I'm bowing out. He (White) has my vote."
Wallis told the Standard-Examiner he believes White is the best candidate to represent Ward 2. White said he was surprised by Wallis' decision not to run and to offer his support.
The voters forum was sponsored by the Ogden Ethics Project, a grass-roots organization dedicated to ethical and transparent local government. The event was held in preparation for the Sept. 13 primary and Nov. 8 general election.
In addition to White, other candidates running for the Ward 2 seat include Richard Hyer and Jennifer Neil.
Candidates running for the council's At-large Seat C are Jacob Culliton, Landon Halverson, Stephen D. Thompson and incumbent Amy L. Wicks.
City Council Chairwoman Caitlin K. Gochnour is running unopposed for re-election to the Municipal Ward 4 seat and did not participate in the forum.
All of the candidates were given an opportunity to explain why they should be elected.
While Wallis bowed out of the race with that question, Wicks said she is a conservative steward of taxpayer dollars and has an institutional memory that is valuable to the city council.
"I know how we got where we are going and where the bodies are buried," she said.
Hyer, who has served on the city planning commission, said he deserves to be elected because he's a team builder. "I build consensus to get things done."
Neil described herself as analytical and said as a council member she would have an open-door policy to receive input from residents.
White said he has solid principles and is the best candidate for city council.
Culliton said he's interested in serving on the council to be a public servant and to protect the freedom and liberties of residents.
Halverson said he's the best choice for a city council seat because he's passionate, efficient and effective.
Thompson described himself honest and diligent. "I'm a hard worker, and I keep my word."
The candidates were also asked whether the city's current utility rates need to be examined.
White said utility fees shouldn't be used to fatten city coffers.
Culliton and Halverson said residents should be charged only for the water they use, instead of a flat rate.
Thompson also said water bills in Ogden are too high.
Neil said she would have to study the issue, while Hyer said utility rates need to be looked at to make sure they are in line.
Wicks also said the rates need to be reviewed because they are hard to understand and have other problems. "There is no incentive for conservation."