MANTI—Residents heard from mayor and city council candidates last week in a Meet-the-Candidates event at Manti City Hall.
Both races will require a primary election, with three mayoral candidates and five city council candidates running for two open seats.
Each candidate was given five minutes to say their piece and to answer to prepared questions regarding the candidates’ goals and their thoughts on federal funding.
All the candidates attended the event. Here is a summary of each candidate’s speech, with the five council members listed first:
Council Incumbent Mary Wintch explained her experience working with the Department of Defense, the U.S. navy and the U.S. Forest Service, among others. She said she wants to address the demand for housing and land growth as more people end up in Manti. She said she wants to make sure there are adequate water and infrastructure to accommodate growth.
While ensuring there are enough resources, Wintch maintained that current Manti citizens would not be the ones funding those new resources. To prepare for emergencies, Wintch proposed a cell phone registry for citizens to receive text messages with pressing information in a timely manner. While others stood firm against federal funding, Wintch said that it is sometimes necessary, such as the funding the city, and many residents, received during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you’re really against that [federal funding], I hope you returned your check,” Wintch said.
Wintch said that service is critical, and she wants to advance hers in the city. “I ask for your vote so I can continue the work that I have begun.”
Jeff Killian told prospective voters about his service experience in the city, including serving on an old city committee and as chairman of the planning commission. He talked of his efforts to fund city projects such as Christmas lights, the American Legion Hall and improvements to the senior center.
“I have been in local government my whole life,” he said.
Killian said his goals for the city focus around more “information participation.” In order to achieve this, Killian proposed a releasing a quarterly newsletter and enhancing the city website. He said he wants citizens to be able to find explanations of city budgets and other documents that will make information on city issues more accessible to everyday citizens.
Gary Erickson is running on the adage, “Preserving our heritage, securing our future.” He doted on the city.
“Manti draws people here,” he said.
While protecting the “soul” of the community, Erickson wants to manage growth. Currently, he said, Manti has a lack of industry and jobs to encourage growth, a trait Ephraim has. He said his goal is to champion more industry in the city.
“More business begets more business,” he said.
Erickson said that grants from the federal government could be useful to build as the desired growth begins to filter into the city.
Stephanie Whitney has lived in Manti for seven years and operates a business out of her home. She expressed concern about “government overreach” in the past couple years.
“I’ve seen things I never thought would happen. It’s disturbing,” she said.
Whitney said one of her main goals is to “preserve the rights” of the people in Manti. To do this, she said she wants to create a public forum to encourage community engagement with local government and issues.
Though federal funding can be useful, Whitney said she would be wary of “strings” that may be attached to grants and other funds from the federal government.
Cory Schmidt used his job leading a team of software engineers as an example of his commitment to productivity.
“I’m used to getting things done,” he said.
Schmidt said that sometimes people perceive an “adversarial relationship” between the city and local businesses, something he said he plans to fix because perception is often “just as important as reality.” To Schmidt, code violations should be a last resort, and the city should work with businesses to help with the things they need.
Federal funding is something Schmidt is also wary of becoming reliant on, but said could be used for certain resources.
Schmidt also has goals for a beautification committee and website enhancements.
Chuck Bigelow has spent 31 years in Manti and is a former warden of the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. Bigelow said his time at the prison gave him experience managing budgets and large staffs.
Bigelow advocated an “open book policy.”
“I want people to be able to contact me,” he said.
He also said that he thinks all mayoral projects should be ballot approved. Bigelow also wants to create two-year and four-year plans for development and promote and maintain a city workforce. In emergencies, he said it was important to find ways to be able to contact residents; he said he wants to update the city’s emergency preparedness strategies.
As mayor, Bigelow said he would promote fair and equal ordinance application.
Darren Dyreng, a sixth generation Manti native, said he felt lucky that he was raised in the community. After leaving for a while, he made the choice to return.
He served on multiple committees and served two terms on the city council.
“We’ve worked tirelessly to make this a better place,” he said.
As resources become “stretched” with the advent of growth, Dyreng said he has plans. He said that he would make sure the city and the irrigation maintain a partnership where each has their own rights. While making sure water and other resources are available, he also wants to provide mechanisms that will manage and sustain growth in the city.
Shannon Miller came to Manti for a travelling job and said it quickly became home.
“I recognize a city with heart when I see one,” she said.
Miller has a degree in accounting and a master’s in city planning, and has volunteered for the city for 20 years. She doted on others in the community that have contributed to its development and maintenance.
“Without teamwork, I would be nowhere,” she said.
Miller said she is focused on economic growth while reducing the “tax burden” that rests on citizens. She also said that she wants to balance the beautification of the city with growth.
To make citizens comfortable with their leadership, Miller wants to strengthen the relationships that exist throughout Manti.
“All businesses need to feel a connection to the city,” she said.
Miller also said she intends to create plans for the industrial growth and land development, among other things.