NORTH OGDEN — Brent Chugg will stay on as North Ogden mayor, at least through the rest of 2019.
The North Ogden City Council on Tuesday picked Chugg over four other hopefuls to replace Brent Taylor, who had held the mayoral post but died last November while serving in Afghanistan.
"I sit here with pride for all the wonderful people who live here and all the good comments they give to me on a day-to-day basis," Chugg said after his selection.
Taylor had tabbed Chugg last year to serve as the North Ogden leader during his year-long deployment with the Utah Army National Guard to Afghanistan, but was to have resumed mayoral duties on his return. His death, however, necessitated selection by the city council of someone to fill the mayoral spot, per state law, and the officials unanimously selected Chugg to continue in the post.
Chugg, Sean Casey, Janis Christensen, Julie Anderson and Steve Huntsman applied for the spot and city council members interviewed each of them at the body's meeting Tuesday, prior to making a selection. While council members said little about why they honed in on Chugg, Chugg offered the clearest expression of support for Taylor among the five hopefuls.
"North Ogden has been a very progressive city under the direction of Mayor Taylor," Chugg said. He decided to apply for the mayor's seat, Chugg said, due in part to encouragement from his wife and city staffers.
Likewise, Chugg offered the most unambiguous support among the five candidates for continuation of the controversial Barker Park amphitheater project, spearheaded by Taylor before his departure to Afghanistan with the council's backing. The city has spent around $2 million so far on the new amphitheater, which has generated criticism from some who charge it'll disrupt the residential neighborhood where it's located, and leaders are debating some $750,000 in continued improvements to the facility.
"So we need to finish the amphitheater so it becomes functional, and hopefully everyone will work together to get this done," Chugg said during his interview, lauding it as enhancing the city's cultural offerings. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for young and old to display their talents."
With Tuesday's action, Chugg will serve as mayor through 2019. City elections in November will serve to select someone to fill the final two years of Taylor's term, 2020 and 2021, and Chugg said he has no plans to run for the post in the coming vote. In all, four of five city council seats and the mayoral post will be on the November ballot, potentially making for a busy election season in North Ogden.
Per the process outlined in state law, each council member voted for two mayoral candidates in an initial round of balloting for mayor at Tuesday's meeting. Chugg received a vote from each of the five council members while the rest were split among Anderson, Christenson and Huntsman. In the second round of voting between Chugg and Anderson, Chugg received all five council votes.
Among the issues brought up by the other candidates were concern about divisiveness in North Ogden on the amphitheater issue and other topics.
Taylor's death shocked residents of North Ogden and beyond. He was in his second term as mayor and, as a National Guard major, on his fourth overseas deployment when he was killed in Afghanistan.