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North Ogden city council hopefuls focus on growth, transparency, listening

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North Ogden City Council candidates 01

Ten hopefuls are running for three seats on the North Ogden City Council in the Aug. 13, 2019, primary. They include, clockwise from top left in the photo, Julie Anderson, Kevin Burns, Meg Sanders, Randy Winn, Phil Swanson and Michael Anaya. The other four candidates are Ronald Flamm, Ryan Barker, Terry Bexell and Charlotte Ekstrom.

NORTH OGDEN — Ten hopefuls are facing off for three four-year terms on the North Ogden City Council, variously putting a focus on properly managing expected growth, government transparency and listening.

It’s a big field, and the list of candidates will be narrowed to the top six vote-getters in the Aug. 13 primary, which allows voters to mark their ballots for up to three hopefuls. Two sitting council members are among the candidates, Ryan Barker and Phil Swanson, while a third who’s up for re-election, Carl Turner, is not running again.

North Ogden City Council 02

Ten hopefuls are running for three seats on the North Ogden City Council in the Aug. 13, 2019, primary. They include, from left to right in the photo, Ronald Flamm, Ryan Barker, Terry Bexell and Charlotte Ekstrom. The other candidates are Julie Anderson, Kevin Burns, Meg Sanders, Randy Winn, Phil Swanson and Michael Anaya.

Here’s a look at the 10 candidates, pulling from statements they supplied to the city of North Ogden, posted on the city website. The six primary winners face off for the three city council posts on Nov. 5.

Ronald Flamm

Flamm served on the North Ogden City Council from 2004 through 2011 and he cited construction of the North Shore Aquatic Center during his tenure. “I enjoyed seeing the $4 million North Shore pool built, without increasing taxes,” he said.

He previously managed an insurance agency that employed more than 50 agents and has also worked with companies in creating employee benefit plans and aided others with estate and financial planning. Being semi-retired, he said, “I have time to serve.”

He currently owns an office building in West Valley and a ranch in Wyoming.

Michael Anaya

Anaya, a small-business owner in North Ogden, touted his experience with several nonprofit groups, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Weber/Davis and Catholic Community Services.

“I bring a fresh and different perspective, which allows me to be more open to new ideas and possibilities,” he said.

Managing future growth is a big issue. “How do we govern that growth in a responsible manner while still preserving our values? We have an opportunity to define our community by how we manage this growth,” he said.

Julie Anderson

Anderson has been active in the Republican Party and has advocated for bills focused on children’s rights before the Utah Legislature. She’s a regular at North Ogden City Council meetings and works as a substitute teacher for the Weber School District.

“One of Julie’s goals as a member of the council is ensuring transparency and openness, particularly when it comes to spending the city’s money,” her campaign statement reads. “She believes we need to take care of immediate needs before the wants.”

Commercial and residential interests should “work together in harmony,” she said, also touting the import of involving the public in city governance. “To show the residents they too can make a difference and that their voices can be heard, lines of communication must be open.”

Ryan Barker

Barker, appointed to a vacant seat on the city council in April 2018, is seeking election to the body for the first time. He’s fire marshal for the North View Fire District.

Barker cited his experience and the insights he’s gained while on the council about government budgeting and financing of government.

“I try to listen to all concerns and try to make the best decisions possible. I feel it is important to listen to what North Ogden residents want and how the council’s decisions impact their lives,” he said in his statement.

Terry BexelL

Bexell noted his involvement in the community. “His skills in communicating and working with people is the reason he wants to serve,” reads his statement.

He also cited his professional experience. He was a distributor for Wynn Oil Co. and, after leaving the automotive business, moved to the financial sector and now works for Allstate Financial. “His love of people has been his motivation to help them take care of their families and grow a retirement,” says his statement.

Kevin Burns

Burns cited his work in the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, notably several years working as a precinct lieutenant, serving several cities that received protection from the Sheriff’s Office. “I have worked through the budget process with those cities and I understand competing needs within a city,” reads his statement.

Burns also noted his recent appointment to the board of the Weber Housing Authority and his volunteer work with the Utah Harm Reduction Coalition, which operates a syringe-exchange program in Ogden for drug users. Growth, too, is a big issue, Burns said, and “must be managed in order to benefit as much of North Ogden as possible.”

He retired from the Sheriff’s Office last year after 27 years on the force amid accusations from superiors of faulty oversight of the office’s evidence room, which he at one point had supervised. Announcement of his departure came when revelations that a worker in the office had stolen and used drugs seized as evidence. That worker was fired and later convicted in connection with the matter.

Burns, in a statement to the Standard-Examiner, said he had proposed remedies to problems in the evidence room when working there, but was turned back. Terry Thompson, the sheriff when news emerged last year of the evidence-room situation, wanted the public to believe, incorrectly, “that I alone was responsible for the problem,” Burns said, and he was driven from the office as a scapegoat.

“I have proven my ability to lead while under heavy scrutiny and remain civil and professional. This is part of what makes me a highly qualified candidate for North Ogden City Council,” Burns said.

Meg Sanders

Sanders calls for taking a more stern line with developers in light of expected growth.

“I, Meg Sanders, believe with the constant promises that development and growth is inevitable in our fair city, developers start towing the line. No more amendments, no more grandiose plans neither the builder nor the city can uphold,” she said.

Moreover, she wants to hold tight to North Ogden’s character even amid the pressure to grow. “I want to keep our small-town feel and it can happen, even while respecting a landowner’s rights — no more small plots with big houses, no more high-density rezones and a promise to stick to the 2015 general plan,” she said.

She spoke of the “magic” of the city, saying she’ll “work passionately to preserve what makes our city special.”

Phil Swanson

Swanson put the focus on his efforts as councilman to keep the city’s finances in order and to maintain the city’s infrastructure.

“I have been, and continue to be, actively engaged in guiding the city to greater accountability and financial strength, increased employee retention, managed growth and more robust infrastructure maintenance,” he said.

He was a driving force in implementing live streaming of city council meetings, he said, and has pushed for increased saving of city funds “for asset repair and replacement,” thus reducing the need to bond. He also touted his efforts in guiding growth in the city.

“While on the council, our recognition that growth cannot be stopped, critical thinking and sound planning have resulted in 90+% of North Ogden remaining a bedroom community without commercial encroachment,” he said.

Charlotte Ekstrom

Ekstrom cited her involvement in the community and experience — running a restaurant and home-based business, volunteering, teaching yoga and more.

“I am a possibility-seeking, abundance-minded North Ogden native, eager to serve on the city council as a leader, communicator, problem solver and collaborator,” she said. She can relate easily, she continued, “to people of varied backgrounds.”

As a council member, she said, she would “engage in respectful dialogue to understand and convey ideas to shape and grow our city, creating a place for individuals and families to thrive.” She would also aim to “empower North Ogden residents to govern themselves.”

Randy Winn

Winn, a regular at North Ogden City Council meetings who frequently addresses the body, cited his involvement in campaigning for Brent Taylor, the late North Ogden mayor killed while serving in Afghanistan last November.

“When he first ran, I joined Brent Taylor’s mayoral campaign team because I appreciated his pledge for open and cooperative governance,” Winn said. “I pledge the same.”

A retired chief executive officer of a company, he cited his business and leadership experience, which would serve the city well amid expected growth.

“We live in an exceptional little city, with the quaintness of a small town yet many of the amenities of a larger city. It will take wise leadership to keep this balance in place during a period of rapid growth,” he said. He would also put a focus on keeping spending and taxes in check.

Three other candidates are vying for the remaining two years on another city council seat and they are also on the primary ballot. They are Stefanie Casey, Wade Bigler and Cheryl Stoker, an incumbent council member. The top two vote-getters on Aug. 13 in that race face off in the Nov. 5 general election.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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