Councilwoman Margie Anderson answers a question as other candidates listen at the Ephraim “Meet the Candidates” forum hosted by the Ephraim Lions Club. Seated at the council table (L-R) are Margie Anderson, Greg Boothe, Neil Johnson, Don Olson, and Richard Squire.

 

Ephraim candidates discuss

questions of culture and growth

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

Nov. 2, 2017

 

EPHRAIM—Candidates for mayor and city council in Ephraim addressed the challenges of preserving a “small, rural town feeling” while managing growth and expectations, at a “Meet the Candidates Night” last week.

The gathering occurred Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Ephraim City Hall and was hosted by the Ephraim Lions Club. Lions Club president Megan Allred welcomed voters to the meeting, while club member Bart Nelson served as moderator.

Each candidate was given 2 minutes to give an opening statement. Then all candidates were asked five questions submitted by audience members. Finally, the candidates were given 2 minutes for a closing statement.

The candidates were Richard Squire and Don Olson, both running for mayor. Squire is the incumbent. Others were three candidates running for two council seats. They were incumbent Margie Anderson, Greg Boothe and Neil Johnson.

Asked to explain in opening statements why they were running for office, mayoral contender Olson said, “I want to keep that small, rural town feeling.” Incumbent Squire said, “We can share differing views, but still work towards a beneficial result.”

Council candidates also talked about why they chose to run. Anderson’s reply was, “Safety and infrastructure trump all.”  Boothe said, “I have a real desire to serve, for responsible growth,” while Neil Johnson said, “I want to preserve our small town, but have a place for our kids to live and work.”

Other questions and answers were as follows:

Is there something that you would change if you were elected?

Squire said he would like Ephraim to address its need for recreational facilities, so as to not rely on Snow College for ball fields and courts.

Olson said existing plans need to be better enforced and “not change our way of life.”

Anderson pointed out that Ephraim still has few police officers relative to its population and said she would also like to extend Main Street beautification improvements.

Boothe said there were still unfinished streets in Ephraim that should be paved. He said he would put more effort into beautification around Ephraim.

Johnson said that Ephraim needs a better general plan and annexation plan.

What ideas do you have for a functional industrial park?

Squire answered that Ephraim didn’t really need an industrial park but needed to deal with the lack of transportation access in order to create jobs. He also pointed to the new bachelor’s degree in software engineering at Snow College as an example of training of potential employees.

Olson agreed with Squires regarding lack of access to I-15. He said that Ephraim should grow the businesses that are already here and also continue to support the success of Snow College.

Johnson said lack of access limited the businesses that would seek to move to Ephraim, and the city should target smaller businesses that would have a better chance of succeeding.

Boothe said there were existing areas in town, specifically the areas around the Verizon store, shops near the car wash on the north end of town, and the area around Skyline Lumber, that have room for growth. He said Ephraim should concentrate on filling up those spaces.

And Anderson said that Ephraim should still seek to draw retail  to the city but that it was a “balancing act” to support local business and seek new business.

Tell us your view on transparency as regards the city budget.

Squire agreed that the budget should be transparent, but emphasized how the budget is already available to any citizen to see, and also that the budget process is also open to citizen input through required public hearings.

Olson said the city budget should be, and is currently, available for any citizens who wants to come to city hall and see it. He would also make himself available to answer any questions regarding the budget.

Anderson supported citizens learning more about the budget process. She said when she first became a member of council, she was surprised at how much money it took to run Ephraim.

Johnson was very much in favor of transparency and thought the city budget should be available on-line for all to access.

Boothe said that he would like to raise awareness of the budget to more Ephraim citizens.

What ideas to you have to promote a healthy lifestyle?

Squire said he had been thinking of starting “Mayor’s Challenge” 5K races in the city.

Olson answered he would support building a walking trail up Ephraim Canyon. He would also be in favor of what he called “family recreation rewards.”

Anderson was in favor of a walking path and also a healthy recipe of the month.

Boothe said he thought it would be easy to install bike lanes on existing city streets, and would also favor a bike trail from Ephraim to Mt Pleasant.

Johnson was also in favor of bike trails. He said he would pursue grant money to build those and a recreational center, as well.

What is your primary issue?

Squire said his primary focus was “planned sustained growth.”

Olson said since he was retired, he felt he could do more for the city. He promised to spend two, perhaps three, days per week at the city hall to be available to city staff and citizens.

Boothe said he wanted “to be a listening ear,” meaning he wanted people to stop him on the street or in the store and tell him what was on their minds about the city, so he could be responsive to their concerns.

Johnson said he would focus on budget planning and spending wisely.

Anderson said she wanted to prioritize needs versus desires in the city.

All of the candidates were given the opportunity to give a closing statement.

Anderson said “I welcome the input from our citizens, in order to set the proper priorities for Ephraim.”

Boothe said “I want to see the best Ephraim we can possible have.” He said he would put  his experience with the Scandinavian Heritage Festival to work to benefit of the entire city and work for responsible growth.

Johnson said his focus was the budget, which he would take seriously, research all the factors involved, find all the information possible and get input from citizens, in order to do the job right.

Olson said he wanted Ephraim to be a “community.” He wanted people to know and help one another. He also said Ephraim needed to plan its growth, with its needs first and wants second.

Squires said “I have to serve.” He pointed to the last four years, and the many issues he has dealt with successfully as mayor. He said that many of the issues were unknown to the average citizen because they were dealt with smoothly and quietly.