On November 7 voters in American Fork, Utah, will elect a new mayor and two new city councilors.
There will also be a special election that day — on the same ballot — for the remainder of retiring Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s term in the US House of Representatives.
You may still be detoxing from the last presidential race. And for one reason or another, that race or its aftermath may have tempted you to turn your back on politics altogether. I understand that temptation. But it’s time to get our heads back in the game and focus on the level of government we can most effect.
By state law the candidate filing period for municipal offices (mayor and city council) begins on Thursday, June 1, and runs until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8. At 5:01 p.m. on June 8, we’ll know who will be on our ballot for the mayoral and city council races.
Some additional information is available at American Fork City’s web site and at elections.utah.gov, If you’re running or even considering it, call the City Recorder’s office at 801-763-3000 for more information.
How the Election Works
In the mayoral race, if more than two candidates file, there will be a primary election on Tuesday, August 15. Voters will choose one of the candidates on the ballot, and the two with the most votes will be on the general election ballot in November.
In the city council race it’s a little more complicated. There are two seats up for election, so there can be up to four candidates on the November ballot. If more than four file, there will be a primary election in that race too, on the same date. In a primary each voter may select two candidates, and the four with the most votes win spots on November’s ballot. Either way, in November each voter may choose two candidates, and the two with the most votes win the seats and take office in early January.
These elections are nonpartisan and citywide (no districts). One must be — and have been for the last year — a resident of American Fork to run, and the minimum age is eighteen. Age and residency are measured as of the day of the general election.
Officially, no one is running yet, because the filing period hasn’t begun.
Unofficially, at least three candidates are said to be running for mayor: current city councilors Brad Frost and Carlton Bowen, and long-time resident Daniel Copper.
At the moment I haven’t the slightest idea who’s running for city councilor, or whether that race will include incumbent Jeff Shorter. I’ll keep you posted.
And yes, it does matter who runs. We need well-prepared, highly qualified, committed men and women running for local office — because there will likely be some other folks running too, and we won’t be well governed by dabblers and dilettantes, whose high political principles convince them that they would be the best leaders of a city government which they don’t understand and in which they haven’t been involved before, even as volunteers.
No doubt we’ll say more of this here. You can already tell that I have an opinion or two.
How Do I Learn About Candidates and Issues?
Last time we had a municipal election in American Fork, Rod Martin and I started this website for the express purpose of helping voters learn about candidates and issues — and to publicize other opportunities to learn about them. So we’ll keep you posted about meet-the-candidates events, provide links to published information elsewhere, supply contact information about the candidates, and so forth.
We shouldn’t be your only source, even if we do have nice “Learn Before You Vote” signs that will go back up eventually. The only thing better than a voter’s one-on-one communication with a candidate is a well-informed voter’s one-on-one interaction with a candidate.
Last time we did this, we took sides. In fact, we started this to counter a small flood of misinformation others were spreading about candidates, issues, and city government. We created a series of infographics (and blogged longer explanations) about the City’s road budget, property tax rates, water bills, and other topics, largely in response to what others said.
This angered some folks. How could we say publicly that someone was spreading inaccurate information, when (a) they had real numbers they got from the City, and (b) they were such nice neighbors?
The answer was simple, and it will be simple again: Nice people can be wrong too. And numbers may mean something more, less, or different from what we think they mean. In this case they explained and presented numbers in ways that served their agenda, but the numbers didn’t support their conclusions.
First, perhaps you should be considering whether to file as a candidate or not. Or whether to have a serious chat with that person you think should file, because she’ll be excellent. Or both.
In any case, I’ve sent questions such as these to each current city councilor and the mayor, to help us learn about the offices, issues, and city government generally. I’ll report what they say. (See answers by four of five city councilors and Mayor Hadfield.)
- What qualifications should voters seek in city council candidates?
- How many hours do you spend in an average week in your city council activities?
- Looking ahead, what major issues do you see that should concern voters and candidates now?
We’ll do some Q&A with candidates too, when we officially have them, and announce and report on public meet-the-candidates events.
We’ll have some general discussion here about what makes an excellent candidate, and some specific discussion about issues. I’m hoping for guest posts about issues; some of those are already in the works.
And whether we endorse specific candidates in the end or not, we’ll comment on the qualifications, temperament, views, and general suitability of specific candidates. Along the way, comments are welcome.
More than welcome.
More than more than welcome.
Including differing views. It’s a little boring and far less instructive, if we don’t get any of those.
Once more into the breach, my friends.