Thursday saw American Fork mayoral and city council candidates gather to discuss their merits as candidates and their views of numerous issues. The American Fork Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, and the president of its board, Seth Holdaway, moderated. The audience numbered about sixty — more that we usually see at such events. I hope this foretells good voter participation in our 2021 election.
Members of the All About American Fork group on Facebook submitted the questions online before the event. None came from the audience at the event, but numerous key issues were raised, and there was ample time before and after the formalities for one-on-one conversations with candidates.
On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the American Fork Chamber of Commerce hosted a meet-the-candidates event for the American Fork City Council race. As usual, of late, it was in a meeting room at American Fork Hospital. This post presents audio recordings from that event — one question at a time, to be easily digestable — and adds some notes from another event a week later, on October 9, at the American Fork Library.
This post features audio from the May 9, 2018, local and state school board debate at American Fork Junior High..
We start with two apologies. First, it has taken me six weeks to post this audio, and now we’re within a week of the election. Election Day is Tuesday, June 26, and those mail-in ballots have to be postmarked no later than Monday, June 25. On the other hand, it could have been worse; another week later, and it would be after Election Day. Second, my recorder ran out of memory space, due to an oversight on my part, so I lost a few seconds of one candidate’s answer to the penultimate question, and all of the responses to the final question (essentially, how are you different, and why should we vote for you?). If someone else has audio and wants to offer it, I’ll happily correct the omission.
Come to think of it, a third apology: I was too busy moderating to take photos for this post. Alas. Again, if someone has some good ones to share, let me know.
Details and Housekeeping
The American Fork Council PTA sponsored the debate. Yours truly, David Rodeback, was the moderator. Questions were submitted before and during the debate, and I added a few of my own. Attendance was about 50.
The audio is not of professional quality, but it is usable. I’ve done some noise suppression, adjusted volume levels, and deleted segments of dead air, plus some bits of chatter from, ahem, the moderator. Substantively, the candidates’ answers are unedited.
In the first audio segment — the least important — I explain the format and do some housekeeping.
These are the only two races on my primary ballot, because I’m unaffiliated.
Alpine School Board Debate
The primary ballot has three candidates for Alpine School Board, District 3; two will advance to the general election. Each voter gets one vote on the race.
The candidates are Sarah Beeson, Kara Sherman, and ‘Afa K. Palu — with names as printed on my ballot, and in the same order.
Please tell us your name and why you’re running for school board. (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
What experience in your life, professional or otherwise, would you like the voters to consider? (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
What have you done to prepare specifically for service on the Alpine School Board? (Sherman – Palu – Beeson)
In education, everyone seems to want something, and certainly there are many needs. How will you balance the needs and wants of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and others? (Palu – Beeson – Sherman)
The district has a clear vision for learning. Are you familiar with it, and are you hoping to support it or to change the vision, or somewhere between the two? (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
Is there too much, too little, or about the right amount of federal control of our public schools? (Palu – Sherman – Beeson) AND Is there too much, too little, or about the right amount of state control of our public schools? (Palu – Sherman – Beeson)
What do you want to accomplish as a member of the school board? List your top two, three, or four priorities. (Beeson – Palu – Sherman)
What should we do better to address the ongoing demographic challenges posed by a steadily growing population over the next ten, twenty, or thirty years? (Sherman – Beeson – Palu)
Pick one of these topics and give us your best thoughts: (Palu – Sherman – Beeson)
promoting school safety
teacher retention (someone asked specifically about special education teacher retention, if you want to go there)
the importance of the arts and humanities in public education
What makes you different from your opponents? Why should we vote for you? (Sherman – Beeson – Palu)
Utah State School Board Debate
The candidates for Utah State School Board, District 9, are — again as listed on my ballot — Kami Alvarez, Joylin Lincoln, Avalie Muhlestein, and Cindy Davis.
Please tell us your name and why you’re running for school board. (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What experience in your life, professional or otherwise, would you like the voters to consider? (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What have you done to prepare specifically for service on the State School Board? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein)
Why do we have a state school board? Is it better to have an elected board instead of an appointed board, or just a state superintendent? (Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez) AND Follow-up: Do you support or oppose making the state school board a partisan election? (Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez)
Common Core was adopted almost a decade ago and has been controversial ever since. Some love it, some hate it, and the current board said it would cost too much to fix. Would you vote to change it, and if so, how? (Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln)
Should a member of the State School Board work to move control away from the state to the local level? If so, how? (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What can you do on the state school board to help retain good teachers and to attract good teachers to the state? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein) AND Some school districts in Utah have dramatically increased teacher pay in order to attract and retain teachers. What if anything should the state do to help poorer districts compete for teachers? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein)
(I’m missing a few seconds at the end of Mrs. Muhlestein’s last response, but I’m including what there is. Closing statements are also missing. Again, my apologies — and if someone has decent audio to offer, I’d be pleased to post it.)
We try here to separate information from commentary, and to label the latter clearly. So I’ll soon post my own thoughts in a separate post, focusing on the races in which I get to vote, but also mentioning other (Republican) primary races affecting American Fork.
I’ll say this for now. I liked all these school board candidates, for reasons I’ll explain soon. And I still haven’t decided who gets my vote in either race. But I’m getting there.
Here is audio from the October 7, 2017, city council debate in American Fork. The mayoral candidates were not present but sent short statements to be read; they are included below.
This post has just the questions and the audio, with no attempt to summarize responses, no fact checking, and no commentary or analysis. My own thoughts are coming soon, but separately.
If you enjoy disclaimers, go reread the disclaimers from last time we did this together. For the rest of us, on with the show.
Attendance was about 12, not including candidates. That’s unusually low and somewhat disappointing, but we’ll hope for a larger audience watching the video recordings and listening to the audio here. The Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event, has posted a video recording on YouTube. Here also is the Daily Herald‘s report of the event. (Apologies for the unpleasant ad experience there.)
The moderator was Joe Phelon [“FEE-lawn”] Chairman of the Board of the American Fork Chamber of Commerce. Questions came from the audience, and some may have been submitted by email in advance.
All four candidates attended. They were seated in alphabetical order by first name:
Jeff Shorter (incumbent)
Josh Walker (Chamber of Commerce), Barbara Christiansen, Jeff Shorter, Kyle Barratt, Staci Carroll
I’ve just published four posts here which may interest American Fork voters. Two (one for each race) have audio from the July 29 meet-the-candidates event, divided by question or statement, with a bit of discussion but no opinion from me. Some folks like it that way, and that’s okay. The audio isn’t professional, but I hope you’ll find it adequate.
The other two posts contain my summaries of candidate responses, my recommendations, and — especially in the case of the mayoral debate — my candid commentary about what we heard. One of the mayoral candidates consistently fares poorly in that analysis. If that sort of thing bugs you, you’ll understand why I put my opinions in separate posts — so you can avoid them. For what it’s worth, my thoughts on the city council race are much happier. It’s a very strong field.
So read these if you wish, but you’ve been warned:
Here are two final thoughts, lifted from my city council notes.
Whatever you may think of Washington, DC, these days, we’re a long way from there. We have every opportunity to be well-governed in American Fork. I’m not sure that choice was even on our ballot last November.
We owe all our candidates and their families a debt of gratitude for the effort and sacrifice required to run for office, let alone serve if elected. One way to show that gratitude would be to vote in larger numbers than usually turn out for a local primary — especially if we have learned before we vote.
Thanks for reading. Comments are always welcome, within the usual bounds of civility and readability.
Here’s the audio I recorded from the city council candidates’ portion of Saturday’s meet-the-candidates event at the American Fork Hospital. But first, some disclaimers and housekeeping.
The audio isn’t professional. You get what you get from my little Sony voice recorder. I used Audacity for dynamic range compression, noise suppression, and enhancing the audio of candidates who spoke much more softly into the microphone than others. The photos aren’t professional either.
I’ve split the audio into sections, by question, etc., and I haven’t deleted any part of any candidate response. Obviously, there’s no fact-checking built into any of this.
Here’s the audio I recorded from the mayoral candidates’ portion of Saturday’s meet-the-candidates event at the American Fork Hospital. Purists might not call it a debate, I suppose, but it’s as close as we tend to get in our politics.
Here are a few disclaimers and some housekeeping.
The audio isn’t professional. You get what you get from my little Sony voice recorder, with a little help from Audacity for dynamic range compression and some noise suppression. The photos aren’t professional either.
I’ve split the audio into sections, by question or statement, and I haven’t deleted any part of any candidate response. Obviously, there’s no fact-checking built into any of this.
Only mayoral candidates Brad Frost and Carlton Bowen were present at the event. The third candidate in the race, Daniel Copper, was absent. No explanation was offered, and no opening or closing statement was read for him in his absence. Continue reading
On Saturday morning State Auditor John Dougall moderated a meet-the-candidates event at American Fork Hospital. It was part of their Pancakes and Politics series, which is sponsored by the American Fork Chamber of Commerce.
No one in the area has more credibility in the moderator’s role than John Dougall. And the free breakfast was good too. About 40 people attended, not counting the candidates and the moderator. The audience was noticeably older than Wednesday evening’s.
The format was a bit different from Wednesday evening, and some of the questions seemed a bit redundant, but there was more discussion of some key issues, as well as some treatment of issues which didn’t arise on Wednesday evening.
All four candidates were there: incumbents Brad Frost and Rob Shelton, and challengers Allen Simpson and Kevin Barnes.
My audio recording of this event is not of professional quality (that’s no surprise), and there’s a fair amount of background noise. But it’s easy to follow. I’ve broken it up into four segments of about 20 minutes each. For each segment, I’ll list the topics and the order in which the candidates responded.
Councilman Brad Frost after the October 21, 2015, meet-the-candidates event at American Fork High School.
Kevin Barnes: We’ve talked about a lot of things tonight, and talked a lot about money. When you go to vote, look at the person. What’s their experience? How do they work with other people? Are they willing to work with others as a team to solve problems? We are not dictators. We are public servants.
Rob Shelton: Look for a candidate who can get things done. My track record is, I get things done. It takes a lot of work. Make sure you look for individuals who will roll up their sleeves and get to work, and get results.
Brad Frost: I care about the city. I love hard work. I go looking for it. I’ve enjoyed getting to know new people and things. I see the whole city and the delicate balance that’s needed. I’ll give my time to make sure the city moves forward.
Allen Simpson: When I got married last year, I realized how important fiscal responsibility is. I never give up, and I am really, really, really good at finding solutions.
[Closing remarks by Kelly Smith follow.]
Here’s a link [forthcoming] to the first segment of Saturday’s meet-the-candidates event.
Here’s a link to audio of a few questions and candidate responses at last Wednesday evening’s meet-the-candidate event at American Fork Library:
In this segment, each candidate asked a question of the other three candidates. The questioner had one minute to ask the question and offer his own comments. The other candidates had one minute each to respond.
Candidate Kevin Barnes after the October 21, 2015, meet-the-candidates event at American Fork High School.
Question by Kevin Barnes: How do you feel about quality of life issues being funded by taxes and the City budget (e.g. a swimming pool, a library, and a golf course)?
Kevin Barnes: I’m in favor of them. They usually don’t pay for themselves; they take some tax money. But I think these things are part of what makes American Fork American Fork.
Rob Shelton: Most of them have been voted on by the residents, such as the recreation center, the library. Even though they’re funding by the City, it’s important that they be accountable. Recently the rec center has taken less City funds, and the new head librarian is getting grants to supplement the budget.
Brad Frost: What Rob said. I live here because I love it. I could live in rural Utah where I have none of these things, but I live here in part because of the fun I have here. These programs are a real benefit to residents, and they help to attract businesses. You do have to be wise, prudent, and balanced.
Allen Simpson: I love the pool. I love the rate that I pay. My concerns about buying and paying for these are ameliorated when the citizens vote on them. I like the quality of life in American Fork.
Question by Rob Shelton: How do you plan to be able to work with the members of the council, when you’re only one vote, to accomplish the good of the community and serve the people?
Brad Frost: You become a part of a team, with the mayor, the City staff, and the residents. It’s important not to isolate yourself as a councilman, and come in with accusations and bullish opinions. You’d better learn how to work with other people. Dale Gunther taught us, when we disagree, as soon as it’s over, we shake hands. Some on our council can’t do that.
Allen Simpson: Every councilman has a vision for the city. I’ve admired that. Each current councilman has communicated with me. I have a history of working well with people.
Kevin Barnes:The key is being able to work together. I get along with people. I can listen. I don’t have my mind made up on every issue. I need to learn some things; that’s part of this job. It’s not always easy to stand up and make a decision, but that’s what council members are paid for.
Question by Brad Frost: Our economy is strong, at least in Utah, and a lot of development, commercial and residential, is coming. It’s important to understand your role in development, how to facilitate it, how to encourage good development. How would your experience be an asset with the new development that’s coming to the city?
Allen Simpson: I don’t have experience as a developer. But experience in the insurance industry helps. I’ve been very good at knowing who to look to for advice. That’s where I would have to go.
Kevin Barnes: I served on the Planning Commission, where projects start and have to be approved according to the rules of the City. My experience of life includes seeing a lot of development in American Fork.
Rob Shelton: I work with investments, including quite a bit of work with developments. This was valuable when Dick’s Sporting Goods came to town and wanted to negotiate. We’re also getting the only Field and Stream west of the Mississippi. I served for eight years on the Board of Adjustments, solving development problems.
Question by Allen Simpson: My first three questions were taking. We need more involvement. How would you increase citizen involvement?
Kevin Barnes: We need to use volunteer whenever we can. The mayor is always urging Scouts who attend council meetings to come to the City when it’s time for their Eagle projects. We need to continue to encourage public involvement. We have a lot of volunteers.
Rob Shelton: I wanted to do just that, three years ago. I wanted to broadcast city council meetings online. We did that for the first time last week. Our council packets, the City budget, and other documents are now available online. We need to be out in the community, listening to residents’ concerns.
Brad Frost: “I believe that most people in the city look at their leaders, and if they feel comfortable with them, they tend to disengage.” We have a lot of volunteers — the Steel Days Committee, youth, etc. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts, like the budget, “we have crickets in the room.” (Nobody’s there.) We need to continue to encourage people to get involved.
Today American Fork City Council candidate Austin Duke withdrew his name from the November general election ballot, citing "unforeseen personal and family considerations" and endorsing Clark Taylor, Ernie John, and Tim Holley.