SOUTH OGDEN — Seven candidates, including three incumbents, are running for three spots on the South Ogden City Council for the primary election.
Among their issues and concerns — closing of the city’s senior center, promoting diversity on the city council, bringing in housing and government transparency. With the six top vote-getters in primary voting passing on to the general election in November, only one hopeful will be whittled from the list come Aug. 13, the final day of primary balloting.
The incumbents are Sallee Orr, Brent Strate and Adam Hensley, while Juan Arce, Jorge Barragan, Jeanette Smyth and Jerome Howe are also running. Mail-in balloting is ongoing.
Here’s more from the candidates, pulling from campaign statements they submitted to the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office or interviews with them. Their submissions to the Standard-Examiner 2019 Northern Utah Primary Voter Guide sent to candidates across Weber County are published separately at http://standard.net.
Orr, seeking her fourth term on the City Council, cited her efforts to get a crosswalk across U.S. 89 at 4400 South and other safety improvements on roads in the city, including more stop signs along Monroe Boulevard.
She also noted her efforts, ultimately unsuccessful, to stop the sale of the city-owned South Ogden Senior Center building. The council voted 3-2 last November to sell the building, with Orr in the minority, and that led to the end of the program, lamented by some. A private developer plans to build townhomes on the land.
“I felt the sale was a tremendous loss of an asset that could have had many uses,” Orr said. “We do need economic development but, we must also maintain our quality of life for all demographics.”
More generally, she put in a plug for hands-on involvement. “Connected and involved leaders and residents are key to maintaining our great city,” she said.
Arce, a real estate agent, said he decided he wanted to get involved in local politics after becoming a U.S. citizen. He noted community involvement through his church and Boy Scouts.
“My desire to run for City Council is motivated in the fact that I know diversity is good for any committees, and having a Hispanic/Latino background can bring new ideas to the city,” he said.
He enjoys serving, he said. “I am a team player and open to hear your needs and work together (with) the city to resolve the issues we have,” he said.
Barragan, an account executive, said he quickly came to love his home and neighbors on moving to South Ogden two years ago.
“I quickly had opportunities to help out my neighbors and found how much I loved to serve,” he said. “I do believe that everything I have done in my life has led me to this point and I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity.”
Among his priorities are empowering and supporting local business and supporting senior citizens to “make sure they are appreciated.”
Smyth, a licensed registered nurse, said volunteerism is one of her “great passions.” She touted the style she would bring if elected to the City Council.
“She looks forward to working ethically and judiciously upholding South Ogden City’s vision, mission and goals, keeping fiduciary responsibilities,” her statement reads.
Strate, seeking his third term, said the city has “positive momentum” and he wants to keep serving to continue along the path.
He singled out the city’s improved credit rating, a measure of its financial health, and efforts to spur economic development.
Development of Burch Creek Park, potentially getting the $6.7 million or so needed to complete it from a proposed $12.31 million bond, is a looming issue. Using bonding to develop the park all at once rather than forgoing bonding and spreading development out over a longer time period would save money, he said. Moreover, if it’s not done all at once, Strate worries some proposed elements of the expanded park will fall by the wayside.
Broadly, another big issue facing the city is balancing business and residential growth. Given limited space availability in South Ogden, building up — apartments — may be the key way to bring more housing to the city. The South Ogden and Riverdale fire departments formally joined forces in fire protection and ambulance on Thursday via an interlocal agreement and Strate favors more such cooperative efforts between area cities.
Howe, a salesman, cited his experience as a member of the South Ogden Planning Commission and focused on what he thinks the City Council’s role should be.
“As a city planning commissioner, I have learned to listen and respect the voice of our residents,” he said. “We all want what is best for South Ogden and it’s up to the City Council to protect the rights of our residents and make decisions that ensure sustainability for years to come. We need better communication, more transparency, and most of all, City Council members that we can trust and believe in.”
It’s the responsibility of government, he said, “to protect the citizens we serve and to be a steward over the resources we are blessed with. This righteous stewardship is necessary to help our community thrive.”
Hensley, at attorney, seeks his second term, in part, to continue with city initiatives still in the works.
“We’ve got some cool things in the hopper, so to speak, and I don’t want to see them fade away simply because the people change and it loses momentum,” he said.
The proposed bond for Burch Creek Park, which would also be used to refinance other outstanding bonds, is a big looming issue, and, for now, he’s against the proposal. Sometimes, saving up and waiting rather than borrowing is the more economical way to go for pricey things like the park, even if it means projects don’t get immediately completed.
Creating more affordable housing in South Ogden is also a big issue, and that may mean allowing development of more apartments, townhomes and other high-density projects. “We need to have those facilities available,” Hensley said.
Stricter enforcement of city ordinances governing things like weeds and tall grass might have to become a higher priority, he said, because of clamoring from the public.
Two others had also filed to run for the City Council, George Garwood and Tim Isom, but they ultimately withdrew their candidacies.