I asked members of the American Fork City Council what they look for in city council candidates. I thought their view from the inside might be instructive. I also asked them about the work load, because conscientious prospective candidates want to know what it will take to do the job right.
Three of five city council seats are up for election in 2023, but only one incumbent, Clark Taylor, told me he’s running. The other two, Rob Shelton and Kevin Barnes, have publicly announced their intention not to run — Councilman Shelton after three terms in office and Councilman Barnes after two terms.
(Of course, until June 1, there are no candidates, and we’ll only know for sure who’s in and who’s out after June 7, the end of the filing period.)
What to Look for in a Candidate
All five city council members sounded common themes. Where their own votes in a city council election are concerned, they’re looking for:
- men and women who work well with others, and who can disagree without being disagreeable;
- people who already have a resume of civic engagement — not necessarily at the City, but if it is at the City, service on at least one committee or coaching in the recreation programs, working in the arts, etc.;
- candidates who know about City government and don’t just assume that all the stereotypes and talking points from national and state government apply;
- overlapping with the last two, candidates who are energized by more than a single issue, who won’t check out once they’ve accomplished — or failed to accomplish — the thing that motivated them; and
- the words good and honest came up almost as often as work.