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Knuth takes debate stage alone; housing, homelessness among discussion points

By Rob Nielsen - | Oct 19, 2023

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

Ogden mayoral candidate Taylor Knuth speaks at a debate sponsored by the Alliance for a Better Utah Institute on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. Ben Nadolski had committed to the debate but withdrew, with his campaign citing questions about fairness of the event.

OGDEN — Ogden mayoral candidate Taylor Knuth had the stage to himself in the third post-primary mayoral forum of the 2023 election cycle.

Wednesday’s Alliance for a Better Utah Institute debate on the Weber State University campus had originally been slated to feature both Knuth and Ben Nadolski; however, Nadolski withdrew from the debate with his campaign citing concerns over the fairness of the event. A chair was still provided for Nadolski if he chose to show up, but he did not.

However, the conversation still pressed on with Alliance for a Better Utah Executive Director Jeff Merchant asking Knuth several questions regarding his platform.

Balanced housing

Among the themes touched on Wednesday was housing.

Knuth said housing attainability would be among his focuses if he’s elected.

“I believe that at any age or at any stage of life, you should be able to afford a dignified place to live right here in Ogden City,” Knuth said. “I proposed expanding the Own in Ogden program. Right now, the Own in Ogden program provides approximately $10,000 in downpayment assistance to anyone in our city to purchase a home — $10,000 is not the right-sized downpayment assistance plan anymore considering our average home price.”

He said he’d like to expand the program to be especially beneficial for public servants. Currently, teachers and city employees can receive up to $15,000 through the program, while police officers and firefighters can get upwards of $20,000.

“I want those people living side by side as they serve our community,” he said.

Additionally, Knuth said there is a need to bring in a broad spectrum of housing choices for the public.

“I’m an advocate for ensuring the neighborhoods of our city are balanced,” he said. “We really need to expand our options for our community across the entire spectrum of housing and work with our incredible partners in the city — like Weber State, like United Way — and all of the other incredible health and human services providers who actually serve that community.”


The issue of homelessness also was discussed at Wednesday’s forum.

Knuth said it’s not a unique crisis, but one that needs to be addressed better.

“I don’t know if Ogden City or our elected body of Weber County really acknowledge the crisis that is our unsheltered population in our city,” he said. “That said, this is a crisis confronting every city in the state and every city in the country.”

He said he doesn’t support a recently passed city ordinance that creates a prohibition against homeless encampments on public property, limits the time personal property can be left on public property and bans parking on public property.

“We’re forgetting about the humanity of people in our community,” he said. “I consider our unhoused population residents of our city who should be cared for.”

Knuth said the best way to solve homelessness is to help prevent it from happening.

“There is no silver bullet to (solve) homelessness. If there was, we would’ve solved it by now,” he said. “It’s a complex issue that requires both leadership and partnership and bringing the right people to the table. But what we do know is the best way to solve homelessness is to prevent it.”

Wednesday’s event also touched on public safety, the environment and economic development.

Another debate featuring both candidates was scheduled for Thursday evening.


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