It is time again in our two-year cycle for city council elections. This time we have 5 candidates, 3 of which are incumbents, running for 3 seats. There are some important issues including fiber, roads, and PARC tax oversight.
First up is Kevin Barnes. He has been in office for 4 years. When asked what his biggest accomplishment has been, he explained that he has done nothing by himself but is happy with that the council has done. This includes changing several senior staff positions and putting together a code for the 500-acre Transit Oriented Development (TOD). This allows the area around the train station to have much denser housing, and it is expected that many of those residents won’t even have a car. It could have as much as 15,000 residents (a 50% growth for the city).
Kevin is excited to see the city use the fiber that it has. He wants to see the entire city on the network, having it built out to new areas, unlike Google Fiber did with Provo. The city will just maintain the fiber, and ISPs will use the fiber and compete for customers.
When asked about roads he said that the city had a ten-year plan. When asked about PARC tax oversight, he deferred to Rob Shelton.
Kevin wants to make it clear that he doesn’t have an agenda. He just wants to serve and can frequently be seen at city events. Kevin makes sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night so he is well rested.
Rob Shelton has now been in office for 8 years and has many accomplishments while on the city council. He has consistently pushed for transparency, getting city council meetings online along with the packets that the city council gets. He has worked hard on the new administrative code, more clearly defining responsibilities. He and fellow council members have also been able to cut $6 million in annual expenses.
Rob has high expectations and doesn’t want to keep making the same mistakes. He wants to make the creation of a technology committee in the city a priority, along with fixing some of the contradictions that exist in the code. Putting business license applications online has been a challenge that he has worked on but there has been a lot of progress. He has some concerns with the current fiber proposal and would like to see a Request For Proposal before awarding the contract.
Regarding the roads, Rob feels that the 10-year plan is good enough for now but will likely need to be adjusted, and it isn’t being fully funded. Every city struggles with maintaining infrastructure.
Rob has also been active in oversight of things like the PARC tax. He has supported things like quarterly reporting for those large grant receivers, matching fund-raising efforts to help the groups grow, and encouraging collaboration between groups for a better chance of success. He is a big believer in all PARC recipients continuing education with their board members to have a very strong organization. He is glad that there are some things in this year’s grants that lay out some expectations.
Rob is not afraid to question the status quo and even repeated something he saw in New York. “Dissent is the foundation of democracy.” It is important to be able to disagree and have a great discussion before you come together to act.
Over the next 4 years, Rob wants to see the city stay fiscally effective. He believes that the city needs to increase transparency and rebuild trust with the residents.
When asked what he loves about American Fork, Rob said, “The people! The diversity we experience is very unique compared to some of our neighboring towns. I love how we can come from different backgrounds, economic situations and varying interests that give such great flavor to our community. I really believe that as we continue to work together, respecting and celebrating our differences, we will preserve the values that make American Fork such a fantastic place to live.”
Rob tries to get 6 hours of sleep a night.
Clark Taylor has served on the city council 3 times, although this is the first time he has run for reelection. He is finishing up a two-year term that he was appointed to after Brad Frost was elected mayor in the middle of his city council term.
Clark has a core belief that if you are fair and open with people, you can sleep better.
He is excited about the potential of fiber, but the current proposal isn’t quite ready yet. He sees a huge potential for those who work from home and those that homeschool, among other things. He is hopeful that the utility fee can help the city pay off the rest of the debt (about 2 million) on the fiber. But he realizes that it needs to be run properly in order for that to happen.
He isn’t quite ready to vote yes though. He wants to hear other opinions and ideas on how it will be executed. He has seen Spanish Fork have great success running the whole thing and that money could be used to help with infrastructure needs. He believes that the Internet is very near a utility.
Clark talked about how they have been able to double the amount of road funds available and they are being smarter with fixing infrastructure when they redo roads and having significant “cut fees” if somebody does cut into it later.
Regarding the PARC tax, he hopes to see more stringent guidelines and proper signage at venues to acknowledge that it is coming from the city. He also believes that the city needs to be vigilant in the distribution and proper use of those funds to all PARC recipients.
Clark realizes that the city council can only do so much, so they need to prioritize what they are willing to take on.
Clark loves American Fork and is so proud of our Fire Department and Police Department. He said that they are the best in the state and receive numerous awards. There are so many good things in American Fork with more yet to come.
Clark said he get 5.5 to 6 hours of sleep a night.
Kyle Barratt is a challenger. He ran two years ago, getting third place with only two seats open. Kyle wants the citizens to have a choice with who they elect.
Kyle likes to challenge the status quo but also realizes that you need to have some common sense, so you aren’t just challenging to challenge things.
Regarding fiber, Kyle doesn’t think that the city needs yet another thing on its plate. We need to do better with what we currently have. He is concerned that we are already in the top third for utility fees in the state. He wants to ensure that we aren’t using utilities as a revenue source.
Regarding the PARC tax, Kyle wants to see more oversight provided. The city needs to always do its due diligence with cost and needs more transparency.
Regarding roads, Kyle would like to see any general sales tax that is gathered beyond what is expected go to roads. He gave the analogy of a friend who got a raise and bought a new truck instead of paying off existing debt. He believes that the city should have tried for a smaller $8 million dollar bond for roads instead of going for the full $20 million. This would have allowed the city to fix some of the more critical roads sooner.
When asked what he loves about American Fork, he said “I think American Fork City is an unbelievable place to live, work, and play. This is my hometown. I’m a sixth-generation American Fork resident. I think between the arts, the parks, the recreation, the community pride … Along with the potential that American Fork City has south of the freeway. This is the place.”
Kyle gets 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Challenger Jeff Shorter did not respond to requests for an interview.