American Fork Candidates Q&A – Part 5 – Debt, Decisions, and More

As before, I sent all the candidates the same questions. This time, more of them responded, and I’m still expecting another response or two, which I’ll happily post upon receipt.

Thanks to all the candidates who’ve participated in our little pre-primary Q&A.

Voters, don’t forget that your ballot, if mailed, must be postmarked no later than Monday, August 14, 2017. There are some in-person options on Tuesday. Further information is here.

Mayoral candidates Brad Frost and Carlton Bowen are on the November general election ballot in American Fork. Kyle BarrattBarbara Christiansen, Staci Carroll, and Jeffrey Shorter are running for two available city council seats.

Note: Responses may be slightly edited for grammar, punctuation, and format. Responses by candidates who were defeated in the primary are still available below, behind the buttons.

  • Published: 25 July 2017
  • Updated: 28 September 2017

Candidate responses are by race (mayoral, then city council), then alphabetically by surname.

(Updated 14 August 2017.)

 

Decision Making

Public comments on an issue before the city council are often one-sided and rarely represent a cross-section of the residents. What will you do, if elected, to ensure that you are hearing and considering all sides of a consequential issue, not just the loudest voices, before acting?

Carlton Bowen (for mayor)

(no response yet)

Brad Frost (for mayor)

(no response yet)

Kyle Barratt (for council)

(no response yet)

Staci Carroll (for council)

Staci Carroll

Staci Carroll

First, let me say that this is an ongoing struggle for every elected official; most are fully aware of this particular pitfall.

Second, I believe that if people are screaming or even softly speaking out, they deserve to be listened to and heard. They most likely have a valid point of view and their opinion should matter and be considered.

Third, I recognize that, generally, only the opposition speaks up. If people are happy about something, they don’t usually say anything.

Each of these points informs my approach, which would be to proactively seek out opposing opinions. In my mind, unless you know all sides of a story, you don’t have enough information to make an informed decision. I practice what I preach in this area; I am quite hesitant to spout opinions on something that I haven’t researched.

Barbara Christiansen (for council)

Barbara Christiansen

Barbara Christiansen

One of the most important things is knowing that people often do not get involved if they are happy with the status quo. Because of that, council members should always be aware there is at least one more side to any issue, even if they are not expressed. That said, opening lines of communication would help ensure all voices would be heard. A city email newsletter or blog (more frequent than once a month) would help let people know ahead of time what issues are to be considered.

Jeff Shorter (for council)

Jeff Shorter

Jeff Shorter

Rely on the input from our planning commission and others before making a decision.

Response from candidates defeated in the primary

 

Debt

Under what circumstances, if any, would it be appropriate for American Fork City to incur debt?

Carlton Bowen (for mayor)

(no response yet)

Brad Frost (for mayor)

(no response yet)

Kyle Barratt (for council)

(no response yet)

Staci Carroll (for council)

Debt . . . Are you asking me to talk about that four-letter word? In all seriousness, I’m glad you asked the question. We need to be willing to speak openly, candidly, and respectfully about our city debt. It would be irresponsible to saddle the city with a large debt burden. Debt obligates the city’s revenues and reduces the ability to react to changing needs. However, it would also be irresponsible to let the city fall apart. Neglecting critical needs for the sake of avoiding debt pushes today’s burdens onto the next generation just as much as out of control debt pushes the burden onto them.

My take on debt is that it should never be used to cover ongoing maintenance (I don’t see how you could ever get ahead that way), but there are some times when it might be the responsible option. Debt might be appropriate when the need is great (such as in an emergency), when it makes financial sense, when the debt can be responsibly serviced, and when it is our last resort. Whenever the city does incur debt, the mayor, council, and staff should proactively look for ways to responsibly retire it.

Barbara Christiansen (for council)

The city should incur debt only when necessary or expedient. For instance, in the case of an emergency such as serious infrastructure damage, it would be necessary to get things repaired as quickly as possible. Issues of expediency take a little more analysis. If you know there is an important need, it can make sense to borrow money to do the work when the prices are low, instead of paying cash when the prices are high. It necessitates careful study. A wise teacher once told me that the item to be financed should last longer than the repayment period.

Jeff Shorter (for council)

If and only if the citizens request it.

Response from candidates defeated in the primary

 

Others I Admire

Name two or three current elected officials (at any level, local, state, or national) whom you admire, and briefly explain why in each case.

Carlton Bowen (for mayor)

(no response yet)

Brad Frost (for mayor)

(no response yet)

Kyle Barratt (for council)

(no response yet)

Staci Carroll (for council)

Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox: Smart, articulate, collaborative, fair. I’m impressed by his past service and his commitment to serve the state while staying in his rural home town. I will be watching to see where he moves next.

Senator John Valentine: Proven record of getting stuff done, even-handed, no political posturing, my daddy. Okay, I realize that he is not a current elected official, but you knew I couldn’t resist, right? I continue to be amazed by his ability to serve our community. I have learned a lot about public service from him and hope to live up to his example.

Barbara Christiansen (for council)

I am more familiar with local officials than national ones. I would definitely give a shout out to American Fork Mayor J.H. Hadfield. He has been very wise in guiding the city to repair and replace aging infrastructure before moving ahead with road projects. Despite divisions on the city council, he makes sure the meetings run with civility. In the 3rd Congressional District, I appreciate John Curtis and his restraint in advertising, even with the numerous complaints and accusations thrown at him. No wonder he has such a good approval rating from his constituents.

Jeff Shorter (for council)

Mayor Hadfield — his patience and kindness to the citizens of AF as well as staff and council members. Brad Frost — even-handed approach to everything.

Response from candidates defeated in the primary

 

A Final Word

Thanks again to all the candidates who’ve participated in our Q&A. Life is busy enough, and campaigning is busier, and responding thoughtfully to my questions takes time from other things.

That said, if any candidates wish to send me responses to any questions they haven’t answers, I’ll post them. When the primary results are in, I’ll narrow our focus to the candidates who will be on the ballot for the general election.

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