PERRY -- The five candidates seeking a position on the Perry City Council have many things on their minds this year, including scandal in the police department, economic development, depleted rainy day funds and declining revenue.
Donald E. Higley, 73, currently serves on the planning commission. His primary concern about the city is declining revenue. With less money coming in, Higley said, the city needs to stop incurring long-term debt and funding certain programs.
"Funding UTOPIA is like funding a dead horse," he said. "Technical knowledge is moving too fast, leaving UTOPIA outdated. Perry cannot support UTOPIA. It has already cost too much."
Higley, who is retired and living on a fixed budget, said he is running for city council because he feels it is the best way to make sure his voice -- and the voices of people like him -- are heard.
Todd Christensen, 39, is a former councilman who hopes to return to the table. He is employed in information technology and is UTOPIA board representative for Perry.
"Rainy day funds are depleted and need to be replaced," said Christensen.
"The city needs to continue to be vigilant in working within a balanced budget and making sure that all of the critical services are being met for the community, as well as properly managing and monitoring new projects, or possibly look at changing other projects and funding sources if the situation changes," he said.
"Perry City has had to dig deeply into its rainy-day funds, and I want to get those replenished as quickly as is possible."
Christensen served on the city council from 2006 to 2009, a period when he said he gained valuable experience with the functions of a small city and preparing its budget. That, in addition to his financial education and more than 14 years of small business experience, makes him a good candidate to fill one of three vacancies, he said.
Jana Nelson, 52, works in the customer service department at Smith's Food and Drug.
Nelson said she has a strong desire to promote economic development if she is elected, and said that requires the formulation of a plan to entice new business into Perry.
"We need to be more business-friendly and help our businesses present a better face to new businesses that are wanting to come in," she said. "Good business attracts other good business. We shouldn't pass ordinances or make restrictions that will keep them out."
Nelson said she has lived in Perry for 30 years, raised her family there and now has a vested interest in the city.
"I know what issues need to be addressed to bring in a healthy economy," she said. "I feel it is time to give back to Perry what it has given to me."
Peter S. Gerlach, 40, teaches social studies and Spanish at Box Elder High School. He has served as a delegate for the Republican Party and has volunteered in a number of community service projects.
Gerlach has identified several issues he would like to address. He feels the city's image needs to be improved after scandals have hit the Perry City Police Department. However, he said, the most important issue is to calm the perception that city council members are out of step with voters.
"I don't believe that the city council is truly out of step with the voters in the city, but that there have been times when decisions have not been explained adequately to the constituents," he said. "I will strive to ensure that controversial decisions are explained to voters both in the city newsletter and through other forums as well."
Gerlach will not say he is better suited to the city council than any of the other candidates, but rather, he sees them as potential allies.
"As a high school teacher, I have developed and refined the ability to ask questions. I will continue to ask questions as a member of the Perry City Council. I will not be content until I have heard multiple viewpoints," he said. "I know that there will be differences of opinion, but I also know that the only way to find real and viable solutions to our city's needs is through active, lively, and (most importantly) civil dialogue."
Boyd Montgomery, 70, served on the city board of adjustments for about three years and is currently on the Box Elder County Board of Adjustments. He is a retired civil service employee who said the most important issue facing Perry is expansion and commercial development.
"I see a need to recruit more retail businesses into our commercial areas, ones that will collect sales tax as well as their property tax," Montgomery said. "Point Perry, Walmart, Maddox and Maverik have been great assets to our economy, but more along the same lines are needed."
Montgomery said his qualifications are similar to those of some of the other candidates, but because he is retired, he has a great deal of time that he can devote to the city's needs.
"I feel there is one other item that is very important to our community -- the issue of communications between the city and the people," Montgomery said. "To have an open line for those communications is very important to me."