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Guest opinion: Why Chris Barragan for mayor?

By Chris Barragan - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 17, 2023

Photo supplied

Chris Barragan

We love Ogden! My wife, Brooke, and I deliberately chose it as the place to raise our four children, Olive, Lucy, George and Penny. We love the majestic views of Mount Ogden and Ben Lomond. We love the beautiful architecture of City Hall and the Old Post Office. We love the incredible annual events here: the rodeo, the farmers’ markets, and the Electric Light Parade with the opening of our delightful Christmas Village, to name a few. The accessibility to breathtaking outdoor recreation here is unmatched and unbeatable. We love the perfect mix Ogden has of all the amenities of a big town combined with so many familiar faces and charm of a small town. This is an amazing place to live. Our family genuinely loves and cares about Ogden.

It’s with this love in my heart, and after much consideration and prayer, that I am formally announcing my candidacy for Ogden City mayor.

I am running for mayor because I truly believe I have the unique, lively voice and leadership that will best impact Ogden at this time. I don’t have political aspirations and I’m not motivated by political ambition; rather, I am sincerely motivated by the love and care my family has for Ogden. I’d like to expound three core initiatives that I see as immediate priorities for our city.

I care about the youth of Ogden. Ten years ago, I coached my first Ogden sports team. It was a soccer team of 4-year-old girls who named themselves The Januarys. I had no business coaching soccer, and during each game the girls mostly lay on the field and giggled or cried; we were comically terrible! Since that time, I’ve had the privilege of coaching at least one local sports team every season of every year. I have been able to see firsthand, time and time again, how youth engagement can unite and lift our children. I’ve also been able to see a great lack; there’s more we can do for our youth. Never in our history have our youth been under such immense pressure. Anxiety and depression are at an all-time high. Bullying has taken on unprecedented forms and become a bigger problem than ever before. Social media is daily, hourly, creating profound stress in our children’s lives. As a city, we need to create family-centered, city-supported programs where our youth can disconnect from their phones and be kids again. We need engagement opportunities for our youth in the areas of creating, interacting, making and moving. We need mentors throughout the community to engage and inspire our kids. The mayor of Ogden City needs to be present for our youth.

Ogden gave our family the opportunity to become small business owners. Years ago, Brooke dialed in an amazing chocolate chip cookie. Inspired by that first recipe, and building on her talent for baking mouthwatering hand pies, Brookey Bakes was born in 2018. We started out in our home, literally burning through ovens and opening our front door to local customers. Eventually, we took the leap and moved the business from our home to its current spot on 25th Street. It was difficult. We applied for grants and were denied, we were ignored by banks, and we were surprised to find a lack of city presence at our grand opening in 2021. We know firsthand how hard it is to build a business because we have had to scratch and claw our way to this point. After two years in the storefront, though, we’re still here and we’re doing alright. Sadly, the same can’t be said for every Ogden small business that opened at or around the same time as Brookey Bakes. We’ve seen the terminal effects of the pandemic and inflation on local businesses. Our city needs to be present at every grand opening and benchmark event, to keep its finger on the pulse of each business and to regularly communicate to discover how the city resources can bolster each business. We need to continue to promote businesses on our beloved Historic 25th Street and The Junction, but we also need to expand promotion and support out to Washington, up to Harrison, and all throughout our city. Additionally, Ogden ought to be a beacon for businesses that are looking for a dynamic and vibrant place to call home. We need to encourage emerging startups to look here and to say, “It pays to live in Ogden.” The mayor of Ogden needs to be present for small businesses.

I want to pause here to say a few words about my wife: Brooke is an inspiration! Rather than turning her bakery into the money-making juggernaut it could be, she’s constantly leading her Brookey Bakes family, and our Barragan family, to use resources on projects that build Ogden. For example, she makes sure we’re always donating food to hungry kids, supporting the rescue mission and helping local schools; she prefers building our city to building her profit. She is quietly and constantly helping around town. She uses her business to leverage other small businesses. I will add, while I’m at it, that she is a happy, building influence in the lives of the kids around her. Many, many times over the years, when she’s learned of parents who couldn’t afford day care or when she’s seen another need, Brooke has taken in “bonus children,” without compensation and with so much love. Many of Ogden’s kids are safer and more loved because of her time and attention. Brooke is a kind, giving woman whose warm personality sets you at ease and makes you feel at home. That’s the kind of person I have by my side. (I just thought you should know.)

I believe in order for our city to be successful, our citizens need to feel a sense of ownership in Ogden. In the most literal sense, this means homeownership. During my childhood, my parents moved my siblings and me several times in order to stay afloat, with one period of homelessness. Brooke grew up in poverty, with a single mother who had to move her children around many times too, and experienced two periods of homelessness. Those formative years were filled with anxiety for her and for me. Here in Ogden, where Brooke and I purchased our first home, our own kids have been able to feel the stability that we longed for as children. Our city needs to be committed to making truly affordable housing accessible to our community members, including first-time homeownership. Ownership in Ogden also means all of us taking accountability for our community. We have parts of our city that are in dire need of support: Our median household income is far less than the state average; children living in poverty in Ogden is at almost twice the state average; Weber County has 11 food deserts, 10 of which are in the heart of Ogden City; we have a mental health crisis in Ogden where our downtown’s suicide rate is twice the national average. These are just a few of the issues that we cannot continue to ignore. It’s going to take everyone to help make change; we need to promote ownership of Ogden through responsibility and accountability in every single neighborhood. The mayor needs to be present to pull us all together and promote ownership in Ogden.

It’s time for a mayor who will prioritize these things. It’s time for a mayor who does not confine themselves to representing one pocket of people. Ogdenites come from the north, from the bench, from downtown and from everywhere in between. Some of you have tattoos, some of you have temple recommends, some of you have neither and some of you have both! Some of you are lifelong residents of Ogden and some are transplants like me who may not have had the good fortune to be born and raised in Ogden, but you decided to make it your family home. Regardless of your background, I invite you to be present with me in Ogden.

As your mayor, I am fully committed to be “Present for Ogden’s Future!”

Chris Barragan is the owner of Brookey Bakes on 25th Street in Ogden. He is an active coach in Ogden youth sports. Has spent the last decade as a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations in Utah.

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