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.

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?

Daniel Copper (mayoral candidate)

Public comments are many times one-sided. Opinions are based one’s beliefs, or experiences, or judgments, so they will in fact be one sided. We all are entitled to our own opinions. And I believe we also have the right and duty, as well, to express them. A privilege we have as Americans.

Many are very comfortable expressing their opinions and so. Their voice might be the loudest. However, I have experienced and learned that shouting and being the loudest does not always result in raising awareness or in even being heard. Our country was founded by many who stood for what they believed in. They spoke up and protested, and then joined with those who quietly crafted documents or actions expressing those feelings in a determined and logical manner.

If a leader has the best interest of the group, the team, or the community at heart, that person “hears” from many sources – not just those that are the loudest. A shepherd that leads his flock knows his sheep and hears his sheep. He knows the ones that are overly eager and actively pushing their way to the front of the herd, yet the shepherd also knows the quiet, loyal, and sometimes slower, methodical sheep of the flock that are bringing up the rear. Good leaders hear with their ears, and also hear with their hearts.

Staci Carroll (city council candidate)

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 (city council candidate)

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.

Doug Richards (city council candidate)

Doug Richards

Doug Richards

My education and work experience as an engineer and corporate level executive management required that one must have all of the facts available before making important decisions; otherwise there will be mistakes. It would be foolish to make important decisions based upon opinions and anecdotal information which are generally the loudest voices. There is a saying, “People who yell have nothing to say.”

Jeff Shorter (city council candidate)

Jeff Shorter

Jeff Shorter

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


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

Daniel Copper (mayoral candidate)

When a need arises and American Fork City does not have enough funds for that unbudgeted item, then it seems that borrowing money should be one of the options look at. If the Council decides the need is great enough and that borrowing would be an appropriate action, then I believe the City could and should incur debt.

Staci Carroll (city council candidate)

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 (city council candidate)

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.

Doug Richards (city council candidate)

If there are no other resources available the City could incur debt particularly when it comes to the safety and environment of the residents.

Jeff Shorter (city council candidate)

If and only if the citizens request it.

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.

Daniel Copper (mayoral candidate)

Rob Shelton. Of the current elected officials of American Fork City, the one I most admire is Councilman Rob Shelton. He has always made himself available to talk with me about a question, concern, or idea I have had about American Fork and my living and working here. Kind, pleasant, and generous with his time are qualities that describe him, and I would look forward to working with him on the Council to build a better community if I were elected mayor.

Carlton Bowen. The other current elected official in American Fork that I admire is Councilman Carlton Bowen. I disagree with many of the positions and votes he has taken during his term as councilman; however, what I admire is that he has voted as he believes. He has stood his ground and represented himself and those that elected him. He has voted as he sees it – an important and crucial American principle. In the end, though, I feel it is a shame that he has not played the “games of politics” better and worked harder to find common ground with two other councilmen. With two more votes on the issue important to him he could have been more productive. I believe a lone “no” vote is important in expressing oneself and in standing for one’s principles, yet in today’s politics it does not accomplish much for the future.

Staci Carroll (city council candidate)

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 (city council candidate)

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.

Doug Richards (city council candidate)

In my formative years, grade school through Jr. High, I lived in a home at the Utah State Training School (Development Center). Weeks before President Kennedy was assassinated, the school was a awarded a grant from the Kennedy Family Foundation. Part of the grant money went towards the purchase of two school buses. For years thereafter there would be two field trips a week to places like Hogle Zoo. When I became old enough my father volunteered me to be on the food detail, where I would help prepare sack lunches for the students for the field trips. I would also accompany the students and help out where I could. For many this exposed them to a whole new world they had no idea existed. The interaction with the students on that level made a profound impact on my life.

Also while living at the school a regular in our home and summer home at Tibble Fork was Governor Rampton. Governor Rampton was very supportive of my father, even to allow for a church to be built on state property, this was for many the first experience of religion, faith and hope for a future.

During my high school years I worked for Governor Herbert’s father at a service station on the southeast corner of Main and Center in American Fork. We became friends and to this day will visit when we see each other. His father was a great friend, mentor and father figure to me. Not only did I work at the service station, he was the Fire Chief while I was on the AF Volunteer Fire Department.

For the past 20+ years I worked for American Pacific Corporation (Ampac) where we manufactured specialized chemicals primarily for use in the Space and Defense and Pharmaceutical industries. Two of my co-workers and close friends were Jim Gibson and Bob Farraro, mayors of Henderson and Boulder Nevada respectively. I appreciate the guidance and counsel these two wonderful men gave me over the years.(A quick note about Nevada election policy: If a candidate wins the primary by an amount greater than 50% of the votes cast, the general election is canceled and that person automatically wins the general election. This saves an appreciable amount of time and money for all parties and cities. I can see where this would be advantageous to AF this year. This could save AF needed money.)

Ampac was heavily involved in the politics of the United States, and Nevada and because of the company involvement I had the opportunity to personally meet President George W. Bush, I will say that he had a presence about him that bolstered my confidence in him as President of the United States.

On multiple occasions I had the opportunity to meet with Nevada State Governor, Governor Brian Sandoval, and when I told him I was from Utah, he responded that companies are leaving California in the droves and driving through Nevada for Utah and Texas, and will I send some back to Nevada. Governor Sandoval has had to make some very tough and not so popular decisions regarding taxes. However, I believe what he has done has been for the best for the majority population of Nevada.

Jeff Shorter (city council candidate)

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.

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.

Don’t forget to have your ballot in the mail by Monday — or deliver it by hand on Tuesday.

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