SOUTH OGDEN — South Ogden voters pick three City Council members in this general election cycle, and the issues the candidates are singling out include the former senior center building, the local business environment and listening.
The three incumbents led balloting in the Aug. 13 primary, Sallee Orr, Brent Strate and Adam Hensley. But they are being challenged by Jeanette Smyth, Jeremy Howe and Jorge Barragan. Election Day is Nov. 5 and the top three vote-getters win new terms in the council posts. Learn about the candidates, pulling from their public postings about their bids, their websites and more:
Her big message has been concern over the controversial City Council decision last year to sell the city-owned South Ogden Senior Center building so the land can be used for a private townhome development. She voted against the sale.
“I understand the need for economic development and housing, but not at the expense of public assets,” Orr, seeking her fourth term, said in a campaign message posted on the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office website. “With a growing population it is imperative that we maintain the quality of life for all demographics.”
Beyond that, she focuses on improving road crossings and sidewalks to make it safer for pedestrians. She also touts her involvement in varied community groups.
Strate, a South Ogden Junior High School teacher, focuses on listening and seeking out varied viewpoints. “I will seek to balance my opinions with those of residents, city council, mayor, the planning commission and research data from staff to formulate a balanced position on issues,” he said.
Strate, going for his third term, offered an upbeat assessment of the city’s state of affairs.
“Our bond rating has risen two grades in the past year, economic development has created additional growth and tax base, public safety employees are being retained, collaboration with Riverdale has resulted in improved fire and ambulance services for both cities and road expenditures have tripled since 2014,” he said.
Hensley, an attorney seeking his second term, touted his efforts focused on economic development.
“I am currently assigned to the economic development committee and think that we have made some positive steps strengthening South Ogden’s economic base,” he said in a message to a city of South Ogden newsletter on the city council race. “I am hopeful that I can be part in keeping South Ogden a great place to live and raise our families.”
He also singled out his deep roots in South Ogden. “Except for a few brief times while at school and religious service, I have lived in South Ogden for all of my life,” he said.
Her message focuses on her extensive professional activities as a registered nurse.
She said in her message on the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office website that she would work “ethically and judiciously, upholding South Ogden city’s vision, mission and goals, keeping fiduciary responsibilities.” She’s volunteered extensively “to better her community,” the statement continued.
Howe’s message focuses on his vow to listen, something he maintains has been in short supply. “You’re welcome to call me any time, day or night, to voice your concerns. Communication from our government has been lacking, and I will be the solution,” said Howe, who’s in automotive sales.
Some perceive that the city is managed via “backroom dealings,” he went on. “We have an issue of transparency in our city and I resolve to remedy that. I will change that perception.”
He touts himself as an agent of change. “We’ve been putting band-aids on issues in our city for far too long. You can vote to stay on this same track and complain about the way our city is run, or you can vote to make a change,” he said.
Barragan, an account executive, said on his campaign website that he offers a unique outlook. He was raised by immigrant parents, he said, which gives him “a different perspective on life, and I feel I can be relatable to a lot of people and represent South Ogden well.”
He expressed concern with what he said has been a jump in police calls related to drug activity and mental health issues. “We have a big problem in our city and we have to do a better job of creating awareness of these issues. We need to support our police department better so they can be proactive instead of reactive,” he said.
Barragan would like the city to do more to promote local businesses, which, he maintains, would “attract the right kind of business” to the city. Specifically, he said the city could hold seminars for businesses on how to use social media to help them increase their revenue stream.
Supporting senior citizens is also important to Barragan. “I want to make sure that they can continue to discover their passions and develop skills,” he said.