Here are American Fork City Council candidate Christina Ballard‘s answers to most of the questions I sent to all the candidates. Her answers are presented here unedited and without comment.
Qualifications, Platform, and Workload
Q: Please summarize your preparation and qualifications to serve on the American Fork City Council.
A: My professional career has been in both the public and private sectors, primarily in education, with much of my work (apart from explicit content creation and teaching) consisting of project management and budgets. I am capable of and excited to deep dive into all the issues presented to the council for consideration. That deep dive will come with as much communication as I can to the residents about what I’ve learned, and subsequently, transparent decisions. The context I will always be working from is economy and liberty for the residents, as well as what the residents overarchingly want for this city.
Q: 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?
A: I do not have any projects in mind to promote or dismantle at this time.
Q: 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.)
Q: 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, 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?
A: This is something I need to look into more before making an unequivocal statement just yet.
Q: If you were a resident of American Fork at the last such vote, what was your vote on renewing the PARC tax? Why?
A: I would love to get a look at the specific breakdown of where the PARC tax money has gone over the past couple years and where it is scheduled to go. I’m curious about whether or not any adjustments would be a good idea. This is one of those topics that I still need education on. As a private citizen, I don’t have the same easy access to all the various stakeholders and line-item budgetary justifications and I hesitate to give opinions before I feel like I have all the relative facts.
Current Topics, etc.
Q: What is your position on the City’s citywide fiber optic project? Why?
A: I think the current council is doing its level-best to make the fiber optic project one that could potentially benefit the city financially in the future, as well as lower internet costs for American Fork residents over time. I’d like to take a really close look at the considered legal agreements between us and Strata, though. Public-private partnerships are something to consider with eyes wide, wide open so that residents don’t end up picking up someone else’s tab due to a legal loophole or something.
Q: 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?
A: I have been thinking about civic engagement a lot recently. I think more people want to be engaged, but don’t necessarily have the information they need to do so. It is literally a full-time job to be a lobbyist and that is a person with a single issue to push/is paid to be informed about. While I think many citizens should probably make more time in their lives for civil engagement (including myself), we have to be pragmatic and realize that it isn’t feasible for everyone to be informed to the utmost about every single thing locally, statewide, and federally. But we DO want to know. I’ve considered a few different things, but I am still in the brainstorming stage about this.
Q: Should a city’s budgeting and finances operate differently from a family’s? How and why (or why not)?
A: It seems to me, it would operate less like a family’s, and more like a business, but even that isn’t a perfect analogy.
Q: Does the proper role of local government differ in any substantial way from the proper role of the federal government? Please explain.
A: I think the most substantive difference is that the federal government is meant for our national defense and the protections of our liberty. Local governments are more managerial and have more constitutional power to drill down to very specific and unique local wants and needs.
Thanks, Ms. Ballard!
Thanks to everyone for reading. If you’re a voter, you have until Tuesday, September 5, to mail or drop off your ballot. Please Learn BEFORE You Vote.
Answers are also posted from Clark Taylor, Tim Holley, Elizabeth Gray, Austin Duke, and Ken Sumsion. And don’t miss John Mulholland’s report of his interviews with most of the candidates.
Watch for answers from other candidates and more information and opinion coming soon. If you’re one of the candidates who hasn’t sent answers to the questions I sent, the invitation is still open.