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Roy candidates put focus on business growth, creating a new cemetery

By Tim Vandenack - | Aug 20, 2023

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Nine hopefuls are vying in the primary for three at-large seats on the Roy City Council. They are, clockwise from top left, David Young, Claude Payne, Benjamin Pearson, Jeremy Thompson, Jeremy Brighton, Trent Wilkins, Joe Paul, Bryon Saxton and, in the middle, Ann Jackson. Voting culminates Sept. 5, 2023.

ROY — Development, business attraction and retention, and creating a new cemetery are among the key issues cited by the hopefuls for three at-large seats on the Roy City Council.

Primary voting culminates on Sept. 5, and when the ballots are counted, the top six vote-getters will move on to the general election ballot in November. Incumbents Ann Jackson and Joe Paul are among the nine hopefuls while Diane Wilson, the third incumbent whose seat comes open, isn’t running.

Here’s a look at the nine candidates:

Claude Payne: Payne, seeking office for the first time, is now retired and previously worked as associate bursar at Weber State University.

He’s served on the Roy Planning Commission for the past eight years, taking part in efforts to update the city’s zoning codes and ordinances with an eye to promoting development. Now he seeks a seat on the City Council, he said, to make sure the efforts keep moving forward.

The changes aimed at fostering development, he said, are important because new businesses can help bolster the tax base and promote sales tax growth, creating new resources for the city. Augmenting the tax base also reduces the pressure to increase property taxes.

His priorities, he said, would be revitalizing the downtown area, regarded as the commercial strip along 1900 West, and promoting development on the largely vacant land around the city’s FrontRunner station. City plans call for town homes, apartments, other housing and commercial development around the transit station.

Moreover, he would push efforts to find space for a new municipal cemetery as vacant plots in the existing cemetery are largely sold out.

Joe Paul: Paul, seeking his second term, is a fleet purchasing manager in the private sector.

He’s been part of the contingent of city leaders pushing for zoning and other changes aimed at bolstering development and he wants to see those efforts through.

More specifically, he favors continued efforts to revitalize the commercial zone along 1900 West, noting talks with solid prospects, though he said he can’t provide details at this stage. He notes two areas where he thinks high-density development is apt — in the downtown area along 1900 West and around the FrontRunner station.

Some businesses have moved out, he said, and he favors increased efforts to bring in new ones, both locally owned and chains. That sort of development can bolster sales tax revenues, easing the property tax burden on property owners, another key concern for Paul.

“Just continue on the efforts I’ve started with the mayor,” Bob Dandoy, he said.

David Young: Young, running for public office for the first time, is now retired. He previously worked in computer security.

There are always ways to improve government, he said, and, by running, he wants to see if he can help in that regard, not just sit on the sidelines and complain. Keeping taxes in check is also a big focus for him. “There are always ways to give the power back to the people to make things run smoothly without raising the taxes,” he said.

He sees residential development in Roy, but worries there’s “very little” commercial growth. In fact, he sees more businesses moving out of the city than moving in. Bringing in more businesses would bolster the tax base and also give residents local places “where we can shop and buy tangible stuff.”

Jeremy Thompson: Thompson, running for public office for the first time, works in cybersecurity, helping victims of computer hackers.

“I’m a 21-year Air Force veteran that loved serving my country and now I want to serve my community,” he said.

Focuses for him would be promoting responsible business growth and, more specifically, encouraging Trader Joe’s to open an outlet in Roy. He would also put a focus on making sure the city’s cyber network is safe and secure. He favors ongoing efforts to upgrade and revitalize the city-owned Roy Recreation Complex, known as the Complex.

Properly addressing mental health problems is a big issue for him as well. He favors creation of teams that would respond to minor situations involving people with mental health problems to avoid the sort of escalation he worries can happen when police respond.

Trent Wilkins: Wilkins, who ran unsuccessfully twice before for Roy City Council, serves as sewer system supervisor in another Weber County city, though he lives in Roy.

“For some reason, I’ve never given up. I keep trying,” he said, alluding to his multiple bids for office. “I just want to do my civic duty as well.”

He knows how city administration works given his job, he said, calling it a plus in his candidacy. However, he doesn’t have any particular issue he’s pushing, doesn’t have any specific proposal to change how things run.

“The bottom line is making sure citizens are happy,” he said. “Make them happy — that’s the goal.”

Jeremy Brighton: Brighton, seeking office for the first time, is owner and operator of a contracting firm and also helps run the firm that manages and operates the Roy Farmers Market.

He has some ideas, he said, to help the city grow “in a positive way and help make the community work better for everyone.”

Priorities include promoting “sustainable” growth in Roy, in part by making sure major projects serve the best interests of the city as a whole, not just one or two people.

He thinks some codes in Roy are arbitrary and need tweaking. For instance, if your lawn is full of weeds but you mow it, you’re in compliance with city code. However, if you have a horseshoe-shaped driveway, you may run afoul of city code due to rules on where cars may be parked, even if your lawn is perfect.

Bryon Saxton: Saxton, who served on the City Council from 2018-2021, is now retired but used to work as a reporter for the Standard-Examiner. He’s working on his fourth novel.

He didn’t seek a second term on the body in 2021 elections due to health issues but says his condition is now improved. He sees issues needing to be addressed, which spurred his bid. “I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines and not want to try and help the community and the people in it,” he said.

He favors creation of another municipal cemetery since all the empty plots in the existing one are claimed. “We have a lot of people who put their life’s blood into this town but they can’t be buried here because the old cemetery is full,” he said.

He’s leery of property tax increases. “It depends on how the money is spent. But yes, I am a fiscal conservative,” he said. Instead, he favors bringing in new businesses to bolster sales tax revenues as a way of keeping a check on property taxes.

He thinks only commercial development ought to be allowed along the core area of 1900 West given limited areas of new growth in Roy. As is, code changes implemented in Saxton’s first term, which he opposed, also allow for high-density housing development along 1900 West.

Ann Jackson: Jackson, seeking her second term, runs a home-based silkscreening and embroidery firm, Jackson Sport. She also works part time at Roy High School as a secretary.

Beautification of Roy is her “big thing,” she said, and she’s involved in an initiative meant to foster pride among city residents in maintaining their yards. She’s hoping the efforts can expand to private businesses as well.

She also favors ongoing upgrades to the Complex and is running again in a bid “to see that through.” The Complex features an indoor swimming pool and indoor track, courts that serve basketball and pickleball players, weights and more.

Business growth is important to her, but she understands limits given the proximity of the commercial Riverdale Road corridor in adjacent Riverdale, which draws many businesses. “I would like us to get more business but that’s a hard thing to do,” she said.

Benjamin Pearson: Pearson, running for office for the first time, is a detective in the Roy Police Department.

Beautification is a big issue for him. “I want Roy city to be cleaned up. I want the city to look more appealing,” he said.

He favors aggressive efforts to lure in new businesses to keep spending local and to bolster the local tax base, thereby reducing the property tax burden on homeowners. “We need our businesses to perform in Roy. Right now, we’re losing businesses; businesses are leaving,” he said.

Similar to Saxton, he thinks only commercial development ought to be allowed on 1900 West in Roy’s core, not residential as well.

He’d also like to see more community outreach by City Council members. “Right now I just don’t see that,” he said.

Ethan Shepherd had also filed to run for the City Council, but he said he’s no longer seeking a seat on the body.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to properly state Jeremy Thompson’s occupation.


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