SPRING CITY—The Meet the Candidates Night held on Thursday in Spring City was well attended for a small town with more than three dozen local residents on hand to pose questions to candidates.
The two mayoral candidates, Chris Anderson and Jane Hawkes, were both present and, naturally, received a number of questions.
For the two four-year city council seats up for grabs, Cheryl Bartholomew (an appointed incumbent), Paul Penrod, Thomas Brunner and Nancy Allred were all present.
Two other appointed incumbents, George Kenzy and Timothy Clark, both vying for a two-year seat, were also at the event.
After candidates introduced themselves (full bios can be found in the Sanpete Messenger countywide election section published with last week’s paper and also available at newspaper office in Manti), Spring City Mayor Cynthia DeGrey moderated an hour-long question-and-answer session.
Here is a selection of some of the questions presented by residents and attendees.
One female attendee inquired how the many seniors living in Spring City might be accommodated with dignity in their golden years.
Cheryl Bartholomew said when she was on planning and zoning, the topic was came up more than once.
“We can’t do much until we get our infrastructure fixed, and that’s one of the things I want to see focused on,” Bartholomew said, although she added that she would like to see more options available for Spring City’s elderly to gather and interact with each other.
Mayoral candidate Chris Anderson responded to the question by saying that he thought the issue was tied very closely to the area’s economic development needs, and that perhaps the city needed to look at its general plan and find some areas around the town suited to higher density housing while being careful not to detract from the historic character of the town and its Main Street.
Saying night time was “when the bad things can really happen.” one attendee asked why the city doesn’t have a second full-time patrol officer to support the current one at night,
Mayoral candidate Hawkes answered, “If you can tell me how to come up with the money, I am open to the idea, but we just don’t have it.”
Anderson echoed the same sentiment, and Penrod even chipped in his opinion that the current fire chief was underpaid so to hire a new full-time patrol officer was unrealistic.
Another question was how the city could bring in more revenue. Anderson said that goal isn’t easy to tackle. An previous attempt to do that by bottling the famous Spring City water and selling it met with failure due to its timing with the pandemic.
Anderson said he had met with leaders in Springville, who were bringing in revenue by sponsoring internet services for their residents. But he said regulations make that prospect difficult.
Commercial development spearheaded by local artists might be a more viable strategy, Hawkes suggested.
“We are already an artists’ destination,” she said. “Why can’t we become a food destination, too?”
Perhaps the most controversial question of the night was posed by John “Tennessee” Stewart, who claimed that current members of city council, and planning and zoning, may have been using their positions to benefit personally without full disclosure. He wanted to know how all the candidates felt about that kind of behavior.
At first, the question seemed to confuse council members and the audience. Anderson asked Stewart to explain further.
Stewart contended a recent adjustment in the required setback ordinances for structures from 214.5 feet to 200 feet was orchestrated to benefit a member of the council who was selling property.
But after Stewart elaborated on the specifics, council members involved said the change was made for completely different reasons, which were available for review in public record. They said they were offended by the accusations of questionable ethics.
Before allowing a few final questions to be fielded to the candidates, Mayor DeGrey asked attendees that the conversation be kept “upbeat” moving forward, in the hope of avoiding any more open conflict during the discussion.