WEST HAVEN — In the western Weber County city of West Haven — home to about 12,000 residents — voters will trim a roster of seven City Council candidates down to four in the upcoming Aug. 15 primary.

Two of the seven are incumbents who hope to retain their seats: Randy Hunter seeks a second term while Shawn Smith aims to nab a third. West Haven currently levies no property tax, but the city is facing fast growth that could threaten that tax-free status.

Their answers have been edited for clarity. 

Brian Baggs

Age: 36

Education: Earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in political science from Weber State University.

Occupation: Sgt. Baggs currently works as a corrections officer at the Weber County Jail.

Website/Social media: bb4westhaven.com

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I've worked in state and county government positions for the last 13 years. I have held management positions with several companies and currently hold a management position in a county agency. My time in management has taught me one very valuable lesson: good leaders listen to their people, elected officials should be no different. I will strive to remain accessible, and as your representative I will work hard to ensure you have a voice and a friend in local government.

What is your prime motivation for running? Lately I've wondered if West Haven City should change its motto from "Country living at its finest" to "How many homes can we cram into this subdivision?" I'm not anti-growth, but we need to ensure that during this time of rapid growth our country living isn't lost forever. Also several proposals have been considered to reduce law enforcement services. We need to ensure our city has a proper police presence to keep our homes safe and our businesses profitable. I will not support any reduction in law enforcement services.


Rhett Bonham

Age: 48

Education: Earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and history from Weber State University.

Occupation: Entrepreneur who owns or is the primary partner in five businesses located in Weber County.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I have a diverse background. I have managed construction projects valued at $300 million, I have run several businesses simultaneously and know what it means to meet a budget. I have worked in the customer service industry all my life, and I know how to work with people to achieve results. I am the president of a local soccer club with almost 700 players, I know what it means to work on several problems at once.

What is your prime motivation for running? Involvement. I believe solutions to the issues our city faces are attainable, and can be positive for all West Haven citizens. We can maintain our rural heritage through responsible growth. We can attract businesses through responsible incentives, thus expanding our tax base. We can be that “shining city on a hill” that Reagan spoke of.


J. Evan Humble

Age: 45

Education: Earned a master’s degree in public administration and works as a civil engineer. 

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I have 25 years experience in project management, budget and finance, infrastructure operations and maintenance, planning and development, and public management.

What is your prime motivation for running? West Haven City needs to be more deliberative and transparent in city decisions, particularly in development. A city's best opportunity to build a thriving community is in initial development. With a stale city plan, ordinary zoning regulations, and elected officials content with concurring on most actions in order to adjourn council meeting by 7 p.m., residents can expect nothing remarkable. If elected, I'll address the risk of West Haven becoming just like everywhere else.


Randy Hunter (incumbent)

Age: 59

Education: Earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science

Occupation: Has worked as an IT professional for America First Credit Union for 36 years. He seeks a second City Council term.

Website/Social media: Randy Hunter for West Haven City Council on Facebook

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? Every day experiences in life have helped develop me for this position: integrity and trust, financial responsibilities, developing and executing sound business plans in my professional and family life, and the simple love of my community, state and country that inspires me to serve others.

As an incumbent, why do you want and deserve another term? I have served for one term and am seeking re-election for one additional term. I feel I have learned much from the past four years and would like to continue with some of the projects and developments that we are currently working on.

What is your prime motivation for running? Keep our budget balanced with as much surplus as we are legally allowed to reserve. Keep our city financially responsible so we can continue without a city property tax. Continue to protect the rights of land owners as they seek to develop their lands while protecting the lifestyle of our city by adhering to our General Zoning Plan. Continue to provide safety for our residents and businesses so West Haven will continue to be an excellent, safe place to live.


Nina Morse

Age: 40

Education: Will graduate from Weber State University in December with a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations and marketing.

Occupation: She works in sales forecasting for Lifetime Products Inc.

Website/Social media: www.ninamorse.com & www.facebook.com/electninamorse

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I'm a mother, wife and house manager. I'm also a full-time student. I find time to volunteer with the American Red Cross where I handle public relations duties, and I serve on West Haven’s Special Services District board. Earlier this year I developed a public relations campaign for a Salt Lake City domestic violence shelter. I have also worked with Catholic Community Services and Youth Impact. Making my community a better place to live is my number one goal.

What is your prime motivation for running? Lately I have felt as though members of my community are being "voiced out." They have concerns, but those concerns are not being heard. Many take issue with high-density development, but it appears to fall on deaf ears when we see so many of these types of developments popping up throughout the city. I recently learned that our senior citizens must drive to other cities for senior programs and resources. This is troubling to me, as we should be providing these services close to home. I also know that many of our citizens are concerned that rapid growth is bringing in more crime. I'm listening to every person I speak to, and I want them to have a voice at city hall.


Shawn Smith (incumbent)

Age: 55

Education: Has taken some college courses

Occupation: Works as a retail manager for a local lumber yard. He seeks a third City Council term.

Website/Social media: While he doesn’t have a Facebook page or website, Smith said he welcomes questions by email at electshawnsmith@gmail.com.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I’ve been a resident of West Haven for 23 years, raised a family of six children, served on the City Planning commission for six years, and also served as an ecclesiastical leader for six years in our community. 

As an incumbent, why do you want and deserve another term? I would like to serve the citizens of West Haven for an additional term so I can continue to represent their voice in our local government. I have done my best to listen the opinions and concerns of my community members and vote accordingly. I have a lot of experience in dealing with our city's development and would like to help achieve a slower but balanced rate of growth for our city.

What is your prime motivation for running? I first became involved in our local government because I felt like my opinions and those of my friends and neighbors were not being represented. This desire to to be a voice for my friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens has remained as my primary motivation. It has been an honor to represent the people of West Haven and help our city continue to be a wonderful place to raise children and run a business. If reelected, I would pledge to continue to do just that.


Rob Vanderwood

Age: 56

Education: Graduated from Weber State University in respiratory therapy, Ashford University in healthcare management, earned Six Sigma Green Belt Certification from Villanova University, and completed the value measurement healthcare education program at  Harvard Business School.

Occupation: He is a Licensed Registered Respiratory Therapist and works as an instrument specialist for a molecular diagnostic company.

Website/Social media: Elect Rob Vanderwood - West Haven City Council on Facebook

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council?  As a member of the West Haven Events Committee, I chair the “Power in the Park” Car Show. This show has evolved into one of the largest events at our West Haven Days Celebration and in Utah. I also currently serve on the West Haven Special Services District, and am actively engaged in improving WHC Sewer management activities. I also regularly attend the City Planning and City Council meetings in preparation for the job at hand. I want to know what’s going on in the city to hit the ground running on day one.

What is your prime motivation for running? I love living in West Haven and enjoyed raising my family here. My motivation is based on improvements recommended by community members. First, our city plan needs some clarification. I would like to work on issues related to zoning boundaries. Second, I am business oriented, and can use these talents to add more businesses to our commercial zoning and not just more taxes from additional people. Third, our protection and safety is of prime concern. I have a detailed plan to assist in reducing crime and improving accident response times.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.  

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