NORTH OGDEN — Seven candidates are vying for the two spots coming open on the North Ogden City Council.
After Aug. 10, the last day of primary voting, the list will be narrowed to four.
The hopefuls include just one of the two incumbents, Blake Cevering, meaning at least one new face will be joining the council. The other candidates are Jay Dalpias, Merrill Sunderland, Anthony Swenson, Gregory Smith, Spencer Stephens and Stefanie Casey. Incumbent Cheryl Stoker is up for reelection but not running. Development and growth are among the key issues.
With mail-in ballots to be mailed to voters starting next Tuesday, primary voting starts soon. The top four vote-getters in primary voting face off for the two posts in the Nov. 2 general election. Here’s a look at the candidates:
Stefanie Casey: Casey, who operates an audio company, Zu Audio, with her husband, unsuccessfully ran for the City Council in 2019. She decided to try again, spurred by her continuing involvement in city matters as a member of the General Plan Advisory Committee, which is reviewing the document meant to guide city growth.
“One of my biggest concerns is development. Smart, balanced, fair development, I think, is something that the city is missing,” said Casey, a regular at North Ogden City Council meetings. She went on: “We have to have a plan. You just can’t build to build.”
Developers typically have plenty of representatives to advocate for their viewpoint, she said, and she would aim to advocate for the broader public. The interests of those living around development sites, she maintains, are sometimes given minimal thought. “North Ogden needs a person who will protect our natural resources, open spaces and will push for minimal impact on existing property,” she said in a statement posted on a candidate page on the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office website.
She favors plans Mayor Neal Berube and the current City Council are pursuing to bond for construction of a new headquarters building for the North Ogden Police Department. The structure could cost up to $10.5 million.
Blake Cevering: Cevering, seeking his second term, is a Realtor who owns and operates his own brokerage firm, handling residential and commercial property.
Nearing the end of his first term on the council, he says he feels moved to run again because he has a solid base of experience to work from. He can be more effective, he thinks, because he’s gone through a steep learning curve during his first term.
One of his goals during his first term was bolstering the North Ogden Police Department and he noted that the force has grown since he took office. Bolstering public safety would be a continuing priority, said Cevering, who favors plans to build the new police department headquarters.
He favors “very controlled” development so growth doesn’t outpace the city’s ability to absorb it. “We can’t exceed our infrastructure. That has to be a priority,” he said.
Making sure the city has an adequate supply of drinking water is also a big issue.
Jay Dalpias: Dalpias is a project manager for Ogden-based MarketStar, which helps companies with business-to-business sales.
He’s making his first bid for public office, motivated by a desire to serve the community. He’s become increasingly involved in civic matters, taking part in city meetings and offering input to elected leaders. he currently serves as chairman of the North Ogden Economic Development Committee. “To me, it’s not about any one issue,” he said.
Public safety is a big issue and he favors plans to build the new police department building. The new structure, though, should just address needs, he said, and shouldn’t be exorbitant.
On development, he’s leery of rezoning “unless it’s absolutely necessary and there’s a justified reason he said.”
Gregory Smith: Smith runs a mobile bike shop and is running for public office for the first time. “I’m a pretty moderate guy,” he said.
He worries about development on the mountains around North Ogden. “Is that land even safe enough to build on?” he said.
Related to that, he wants to assure public access to the mountains, the “best city resource,” by pushing for more trails and trailheads, he said in an online campaign statement on the lieutenant governor’s website.
In light of the drought, he wants to make sure the city has enough drinking water. He also favors xeriscaping, landscaping that requires minimal water, and thinks it should be mandatory for new construction.
Spencer Stephens: Stephens owns three businesses — homebuilding, cabinet-making and excavation firms. That sort of background, with the experience managing budgets and people that comes with it, would be valuable on the City Council, he said.
Water is a key concern for him in light of the drought and worries that the city’s drinking supplies from springs and wells are dwindling. “It’s got to be a conservation effort,” Stephens said, also lauding talk in the city of easing the way for more xeriscaping.
As the city grows, Stephens worries about allowing too much high-density development. North Ogden is a commuter community, he said, with most people here working elsewhere, and dense development is more fitting around the job and manufacturing hubs.
Stephens calls himself a “constitutional conservative” and is leery of government taking too heavy a role.
Merrill Sunderland: Sunderland spoke of making sure government is efficient and that spending is kept in control.
“As a council member, I will support and vote for the items and areas that are necessary to run this city efficiently. I will also promote and stand for issues and plans that will steer North Ogden toward growth with budget restraints,” he said in a Facebook post on his candidacy. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Anthony Swenson: Swenson is a firefighter and advanced emergency medical technician.
“I feel it is time for me to take the next step and become a public servant and serve the community in which I live,” he said in a campaign statement on the lieutenant governor’s website.
He touts support for limited government, property owners’ rights and implementation of “fact-driven” policies. “As a councilman, every decision I make, every vote I cast, will be based on this question: ‘Is it right for North Ogden residents?’ If I can’t answer yes then I will stand up for what is,” he said in his statement.
He didn’t immediately respond to Standard-Examiner queries seeking comment.