There are six American Fork City Council candidates in the 2019 election, running for three seats. Terms are four years.

Since there’s no need for a primary election to narrow the field to two candidates per available seat, we’ll have only the general election on Tuesday, November 5. So even though the filing period closed four weeks ago, we haven’t seen much election activity. Things will probably heat up around Labor Day, unless a certain new issue gets more traction with candidates before then.

The Candidates

All three incumbents whose terms are expiring filed as candidates for reelection:

  • Rob Shelton
  • Kevin Barnes
  • Clark Taylor

They will be joined on the ballot by three challengers, all of whom have some name recognition already, after running for — and in one case holding — City office in the past:

  • Kyle Barratt (son of former two-term American Fork Mayor Ted Barratt; ran for council in 2017)
  • Jeff Shorter (served on the council for one term, through 2017; ran for reelection in 2017)
  • Daniel Copper (ran most recently in 2017, for mayor)

We’ll have information and analysis here, as the election season ramps up — and we’ll separate the two, as before, for readers who want the information but not the analysis and opinion, or vice versa.

Notes and Issues

The City saves some money, since there’s no need to hold a primary election. (Municipalities which need primaries will hold them August 13, with the usual early voting, etc., before that.)

The filing period ended June 7.

The other two city council seats and the mayor’s office will be up for election two years hence, in 2021.

Issues connected with current and future growth will no doubt be prominent. And we may reasonably expect water bills and road repairs to make their routine appearance. However, there may now be enough people who remember and understand why our water bills are so high and our roads are still crumbling that neither issue will excite a wave of anti-incumbent populism such as we saw in the 2013 election.

A High-Fiber Election

A new issue will command some local attention between now and Election Day, and may spur candidates to early activity: a proposal to extend fiber optic Internet service to every home and business in American Fork, as a City utility. This measure will not be on the November ballot. The proposed funding does not involve a general obligation bond issue, so no ballot measure is required. But the city council will take its final vote on the matter — unless they drop it before then for some reason — in mid-November, after the election but before the new term begins in January.

There will be meetings in the next few months, where American Fork residents can learn about the proposal, and many opportunities to share views with the city council before they vote. We’ll be spending some time with the issue here at too.

In the meantime, here’s a teaser: The financial models — which are serious and detailed, but still models — have basic fiber optic connectivity being delivered to every residence in American Fork within two years, for roughly $10-12 per month.

Even faster service could be available for a roughly estimated $60-70 per month. Unfortunately, in its recent story The Daily Herald reported only this number, not the projected rate for basic service, leading readers to the mistaken belief that every household and business in American Fork would be billed an additional $60-70 monthly.

My recommendation is predictable: learn the details of and the thinking behind the proposal before you embrace or condemn it, and expect all the candidates to do the same. (The incumbents have a head start; the city council has been studying this for quite a while.) Ask all of them what they think and why — and be sufficiently informed yourself that you can intelligently judge both their positions and the extent of their effort to learn about the proposal before staking out their positions.

It’s not exactly “Learn BEFORE you vote ” — our slogan here — but it’s close: Learn before you decide.

We’ll try to help with that, among other things, so stay tuned. And thanks for reading.