My primary ballot for the 2023 American Fork municipal election arrived yesterday, and I’m far behind the curve. I only know about half of the American Fork City Council candidates at all, let alone well enough to choose confidently among them when I mark my ballot. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Ordinarily, I’d have been working at this for the last several weeks and posting much of what I learned here. But I’ve been busy with other things. Good things, enjoyable things — but now the slightly-delayed primary election is upon us.
I finally sent some questions to the candidates this evening — the same questions for all of them (see below), but weeks later than I usually do that. Whatever answers they send (within reason) I will post, and given the timing, I won’t wait to hear from most or all of the candidates before doing so.
Meanwhile, here are some other opportunities to learn about candidates.
There’s a meet-the-candidates open house Monday, August 21, at the American Fork Senior Center, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. I checked with the Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring it, and it’s an informal event, with no formal, quasi-debate segment of moderated questions and answers. But it’s a valuable opportunity nonetheless — for me and anyone else who wants to meet the candidates, ask them questions, and see how they present themselves. I’ll report on that in whatever manner seems appropriate.
John Mulholland is interviewing as many of the candidates as he can. Many of you have read his reports of candidate interviews here before.
We provide information, analysis, and commentary here, and we start with information. Analysis and commentary will come well before the mailing deadline for ballots, for whatever use that may be to responsible voters who — can you sense a slogan coming? — learn BEFORE they vote.
However you end up voting, thanks for being that kind of voter.
My Ten Questions for 2023 American Fork City Council Candidates
(Candidates, as a guideline, please answer each question in 50 words or less. If you absolutely must use more, try to stay under 100 words. Voters, if you have other questions, I’d love to hear them.)
- Please summarize your preparation and qualifications to serve on the American Fork City Council.
- What do you hope to accomplish, if elected? Are there programs and other measures you would promote? Are there others you would oppose or dismantle? Why?
- Are you able and committed to spend the time necessary from week to week to do well as a member of the city council? (Experienced city councilors have placed this in a range of 10-20 hours for a typical week.)
- Utah’s Truth in Taxation law, as intentionally crafted by the legislature, slowly strangles local government budgets by ignoring inflation in calculating certified tax rates. Unless a local government implements regular small property tax increases (as the law requires them to be called, even if the tax rate decreases from year to year), it can’t even break even from year to year in real, inflation-adjusted dollars. (Such regular, small increases have been the common practice of the Alpine School District.) When a strangling city finally cannot wait anymore, it has to adopt a large tax increase just to catch up. Is Truth in Taxation, as structured, a good thing? Would annual, small, so-called tax increases be wise for American Fork, to keep up with inflation? Would you support and advocate the legislature amending the law to index certified tax rates for inflation, to reduce or remove the problem?
- If you were a resident of American Fork at the last such vote, what was your vote on renewing the PARC tax? Why?
- What is your position on the City’s citywide fiber optic project? Why?
- What can the City do to promote civic engagement in the newer neighborhoods of the city, where most of the dwellings are multifamily and the turnover is relatively high?
- Should a city’s budgeting and finances operate differently from a family’s? How and why (or why not)?
- Describe a time you’ve been wrong about something in local politics. What was it? How did you come to decide you were wrong? What did you do in response?
- Does the proper role of local government differ in any substantial way from the proper role of the federal government? Please explain.
I know a serious candidate’s time is valuable, and I know answering questions takes time. I thank each candidate in advance.
On the other hand, answering these questions in a timely manner is a fairly easy way to access 1,200 to 1,500 American Fork households (based on past metrics).
May I Editorialize for a Moment?
I only know five of the nine candidates at all, I think. I’ll try to learn more about all of them. But from what I know already, I expect we voters will have sufficient opportunity to vote for good government. That is not always the case.
However, the odds of choosing bad government seem higher in this city council election than they sometimes are.
We’ll need to pay attention (as I haven’t until this week, I know). We’ll need to put a little effort into discerning truth among the things we’re likely to hear presented as truth.
These thoughts seem relevant — and by the time this election is done, you probably won’t have to wonder why.
- Self-righteousness is not righteousness.
- Passion does not equal preparation.
- Impressive resumes sometimes obscure dubious past performance, poor prospects for the future, and bad ideas generally.
- Truth and honesty are not negotiable. If you are an honest person in other facets of life but not in politics, you are not an honest person.
- If you deploy facts to deceive or distort, you may fit comfortably into the political world at large, but you shouldn’t expect to fit comfortably into local government in American Fork. We’re accustomed to better.
All of that said, I really do believe, as I noted above, that we voters will have sufficient opportunity to vote for good government.
Stay tuned. Thanks for reading.