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Candidates weigh in on building trust between Ogden mayor’s office, City Council

By Standard-Examiner staff - | Jul 29, 2023

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

The Ogden Municipal Building, shown Thursday, June 29, 2023. Campaign donations and expenditures for the City Council candidates vying for seats in this very building were released August 29, 2023.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of six questions posed to Ogden’s seven mayoral candidates.

How can a mayoral administration bridge the gap between itself, the city council and the public at large?

With varied opinions on how to move forward with certain developments and questions swirling around the powers of the mayor’s office, rifts have formed between these entities. Now, the current slate of mayoral candidates are taking on the question head on: Relations at times have been strained between some on the Ogden City Council and the mayoral administration. What would you do to foster good ties between these entities as well as the public?

The following responses are in the candidates’ own words.

Chris Barragan

This question has been at the core of my campaign. We need a Mayor who is present. Someone who is engaged in the community and ready to support our City Council. I’ve seen firsthand what it means to support our City Council. They do so much for our city. Providing them with an administration that is available and transparent helps create a positive environment for everyone.

Bart Blair

“Achieving mutual respect between the City Council and the administration is (and should always be) the goal. Everyone suffers when there is friction and tension between the two. Each has an important role in directing and moving our city forward. Likewise, each side has specific authority given to them. Understanding and respecting the separate roles and duties creates a more successful environment for everyone. Having served on the council for three terms, I have worked on projects when each side was open and communicative and I have worked on projects when that was not the case. The outcome is always better when there is collaboration and communication. I respect and admire the steps taken by the administration and the council to provide more dialogue and communication, and I am proud of the projects that have come to Ogden because of it. Communication is paramount!! In order to build on the positive relationships that have been formed I would continue to look for ways to be more open and communicative with both sides as well as the public.”

Angel Castillo

“I am committed to prioritizing trust with both the council and the public. That means listening to and understanding council-members’ goals for districts and working together collaboratively to achieve them.

“For the public, that means quarterly town halls where concerns are listened to with actual dialogue and reporting back to community.

“I believe we can solidify trust and build value for the public by implementing a collaborative budget process.

“For anything outside of public safety and utilities, the public deserves a vote, a voice, and a clear understanding of how our tax dollars are spent or saved.

“Ogden faces challenges like increasing crime rates and the rising cost of living. We cannot effectively address those issues successfully and serve our communities well without doing things differently.”

Jon Greiner

“I know that sometimes there are strained relations between the Mayor’s administration and the City Council along with expectations of the community. This is nothing new and has existed during my entire career. It can be healthy and foster good discussions, since each group may have a different viewpoint on the issue. However, as a precursor to starting this campaign, I have had discussions with two existing, non mayor candidates, council members on what they viewed as ways to have better relations as a start. Communication is always the key for each entity to strive for and each group has different responsibilities. It doesn’t serve the Mayor to not involve all stakeholders in the issues and look for ways to make movement forward a goal for everyone.”

Taylor Knuth

“I would continue to prioritize holding space for meaningful community conversations. I’ve always said that the government works best when the community is at the center and that is especially true for building trust and relationships. I’ve shown my commitment to open discussions through my work on public safety, public health, and public buildings.

“Additionally, it is crucial to remember that the mayor’s power is interdependent with the City Council. I recognize the importance of establishing and maintaining productive working relationships with the City Council to achieve tangible results and effectively serve our city.

“By cultivating an environment of collaboration and open communication, in and out of city hall, we can work together to accomplish our shared goals and ensure the best outcomes for our community.”

Oscar Mata

“Building positive relations between the City Council, the Mayor’s office and Ogden’s residents requires mutual respect and unity toward Ogden’s betterment. As Mayor, I intend to foster open dialogue, collaboratively manage tensions, and keep the public’s interest at heart. Simultaneously, to maintain an effective city government, striking a balance between cooperative action and decisive leadership is integral. In honoring these unique roles, we can together ensure a prosperous Ogden, where decisive actions align with collective aspirations for the welfare of all citizens.”

Ben Nadolski

“As Mayor I’d draw on my years of experience overseeing legislative affairs for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. When combined with my City Council role I have a rare combination of work experience on both sides of this issue. I learned to be successful at the Capitol by earning the trust of our lawmakers. I did so by respecting their role and authority, while always acting with integrity and transparency, and providing them with timely, accurate and reliable information. As a result, we served the needs of our shared constituents and together, we made their government work for them. I have since made it work at county commissions, city councils and various boards across the state. I know it can work in Ogden, too.”


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