The Utah County Convention is upon us again (SATURDAY APRIL 16!), and Utah County has several very qualified candidates running for one county commissioner seat. As Utah County has only three commissioners, each of these seats is extremely important.
Find my previous post, about the Utah Senate 14 candidates, here.
Scott Ward comes with a business background and a Masters in Public Administration. He wants to make sure he understands the issues that you need to deal with and likes using things such as business models and process workflows to better understand county issues. He also realizes that you sometimes need to work with decisions that other people have made and do your best within those confines.
He told me about a time when government had a negative impact on his livelihood. He had a business in Springville impacted when the freeway exit was closed for construction. The closure severely cut the traffic to that area and his business and he was forced to close it.
Scott empathizes with those who are negatively affected by government and wants to find ways to help businesses who are impacted by big road construction projects. He also wants to find ways to encourage more entrepreneurship in Utah County, including encouraging retired business leaders to mentor the next generation.
He is still active in business and is currently working on a Peruvian restaurant in Payson. If elected he plans to scale back his business work as he isn’t involved in day-to-day operations.
Scott has served in various volunteer roles and realizes that people need to be involved in their communities to help solve problems that government shouldn’t.
I am concerned with Scott’s claims of helping defeat a 166% property tax increase in Spanish Fork for a Rec Center as 166% is only how much a certain part of the property tax would be increased. When questioned about it he said “Even so, a 15% increase in the property tax bill is still a big increase; it just doesn’t see that big next to 166%.”
What also concerns me is how Scott dealt with me after asking about this. I was kind of weird when he accused me of perhaps being a spy for Brad Frost because I live in American Fork. He then went off on how his number is accurate, in a private Facebook chat, after I sent him what I had previously written up. This greatly concerns me as he claims he wants to listen to other people. He called me, claiming that he always clarified it was the city portion but it was easy to find multiple times on Facebook where he propagated the wrong numbers with no explanation right before the election. I hate being negative about candidates as I really appreciate those who step up to run but felt that it was my duty to present this information to voters and hold candidates accountable to using accurate information.
Casey Voeks finished up his term as party chair last year. Casey had to remain impartial while working with various factions of the party. I asked him if he thought it was a negative that there were factions. He reminded me that every president in the United States has dealt with the same issue, including George Washington.
Casey told me that he made sure to follow through on his campaign promises and that he only ever missed one executive meeting and no state central committee meetings during his term. His time as chair taught him about how to facilitate discussion despite working with people with strong opinions and that it can be more difficult when people are working as volunteers.
Casey has a strong ideology and has a very strong reputation for his political involvement on many issues. Don’t be fooled by his age. Casey knows how to work within government and already has a great resume.
Creating a working relationship with UTA is very important for Casey. He feels that UTA has done a poor job so far, citing a 2014 audit, and they need to make sure to make some important improvements before getting more public money. By not approving new expensive project he feels the county can strengthen its negotiating position. He very publicly opposed both BRT and Proposition 1. He wants to make sure that ridership on UTA is accurately measured and that bus lines that don’t have sufficient ridership are cut. He told me that transportation is mostly a city and state issue but the county can help guide and coordinate projects and discussion.
Casey does have a strong ideology and people know where he stands but he did say that he can be moved with sufficient data.
He currently runs a space simulator company, which he told me has been very successful. He plans to step into a Chairman of the Board role if elected.
As a resident of American Fork City I know Brad Frost fairly well. I first met him about five years ago when he entered the race for city council. He was reelected last year by a pretty good margin.
As part of his responsibilities to the city he has been very active in working with the American Fork Canyon issue with Snowbird. Realizing that Snowbird was going to be able to do their development he was able to go to the negotiation table and ensure that proper safety measures were taken to protect the water supply. About a quarter of the county depend on watershed which is threatened by the various abandoned mines there.
There has been a lot of talk about making county commissioner meetings more accessible. Brad has actually been able to accomplish that in American Fork by putting the meeting online for people to watch. They are then archived for people to watch later. He does realize that holding evening meetings will cost taxpayers more money and proposes having a split meeting where the day-to-day business is done during the day and in the evening more public issues are dealt with.
Unfortunately there has been a lot of misinformation and misleading numbers spread around. Brad faced this last year from an opponent during his reelection campaign. Fortunately a private citizen compiled the correct information and posted it at http://afelection.info/. After this was published the opponent lost by a significant amount.
I asked Brad how he would approach the transportation issue due to growth. He told me that he really likes the Trans 40, which is a group of the mayors in the county that meet together, discuss, and coordinate road projects.
I asked him about water issues and he told me that the cities deal with those issues for the most part. People who live in unincorporated parts of the county use well water and septic tanks. There is a transition as parts get annexed by cities and services are provided.
Brad has been active in engaging citizens, especially on Facebook. He has frequently respectfully engaged in discussions regarding city matters, even with those of differing opinions. He also informs citizens as to events taking place, even working with citizens when a carnival game company accidentally double booked during Steel Days.
Brad has a landscaping business and he has plans to have others take over if elected.
Nathan Ivie is a rancher, raises horses, and farms. He brings a diversity by offering a different background to the race as he deals much closer with agricultural issues and can help represent the ranchers and farmers in the county.
I asked if that was a disadvantage when dealing with more urban issues in bigger cities and he explained how we are all part of the same ecosystem. Being able to fly a horse buyer into the Provo Airport helps him sell horses, and having a strong economy helps him sell the goods he produces.
Nathan wasn’t planning on running until several neighbors and his house representative asked him why he wasn’t running. He reluctantly agreed to do it but does find it a bit difficult to self promote.
Nathan explained how being a rancher has prepared him. He feels he can offer fresh ideas, especially relating to agricultural issues. He has had to deal with a variety of issues from fluctuating prices to droughts and working with a variety of employees. As part of a very small operation he has to wear a variety of hats and feels that this will help him as a county commissioner, who has a similar job.
He strongly believes in natural rights but realizes that there are limits. Just because you have a right to bear arms doesn’t mean you have a right to shoot your neighbor.
I asked him what his priorities are. He told me that water is critical. He would like to phase out water subsidies and would entertain a plan to use a scaling model which protects the very poor. This could allow big consumers to consume more water at an increasing price point, which can be used to pay for more water projects. He also supports tax-exempt entities such as churches pay the full price for water and not be subsidized. As far as transportation he realizes we are a car based society and wants to focus on roads but make sure that mass transit is ready in the future as more people use it.
Nathan prefers to convince people using compelling emotional stories. He feels this is an effective way to convince people of conservative principles. As he lives in the unincorporated part of the county, this is running for his local office.
His ranch was recently robbed but after a large amount of people sharing what happened on social media the stuff that was stolen was abandoned on a road and returned. Nathan said it was great working with the Sheriff’s department. They told him that the thieves were probably concerned about being able to sell the items after all of the attention. Nathan told me that the agricultural community watches out for each other.
He told me that he already has an employee ready to take over the day-to-day operations if elected.
Mike Kipp has a strong record of both service to our country and planning and managing large-scale projects. Mike served on a Navy Seal team, including time in Vietnam. He has a great concern for the issues that veterans face and has spent time organizing and serving them. I personally appreciated his concerns for several of my family members that have served tours in Afghanistan. Mike understands the challenges that they go through.
Mike has also done significant work planning and managing large-scale projects throughout the world. After the major earthquake in Haiti he helped work with them to rebuild their country. He told me about big projects that he helped move back on track which then ended on time and under budget.
He takes a different approach than most candidates. His military training, experience, and engineering background, has taught him to not like political rhetoric and quick answers to complex issues. He works hard to gather the necessary intelligence so he understands what the potential consequences are for his decisions. He has also had to learn how to deal with the unexpected. Sometimes things don’t go the way that they were planned and adjustments need to be made.
He feels that people need to be brought in early to avoid the massive emotional responses that have been seen on recent issues. He also feels that by being upfront with people and being able to see the various sides of an issue will lead to better decision-making overall. It may appear that he is indecisive as he weighs various concerns and sides of an issue but he told me that decisive action needs to be taken when a decision is made. A proper approach can help prevent unintended consequences.
I asked about Snowbird and he explained his concern for a federal case which could set a precedent and damage private property rights, if a deal wasn’t reached. Working with decisions that have been made, he told me about that he feels the proper restrictions and testing will take place to ensure that our watershed will be protected. He told me that there will be a few years of testing the area to establish a baseline before any construction starts. Testing will continue to ensure a minimal impact. He does feel though that Bob Bonar showed some poor judgment with how he kept things hidden for so long with his plans.
Mike believes in being open about things and being careful about conflicts of interest. He told me that one time a Chinese official gave him a very expensive tapestry for work he did on a project. Knowing that he would offend the official if he refused, he accepted the gift, telling the official that it would be proudly displayed in their company building. He promptly handed the tapestry over to the company to avoid any sign of impropriety.