This is the post where I tell you what I think of our current American Fork City Council candidates and how I plan to vote in next Tuesday’s primary election. I get three votes; there are three council seats up for election this year. The primary will narrow the field to six for the general election in late November. The terms are four years, beginning in January.
Please note: If you visit this site for information only and prefer to avoid opinion, as some readers do, you’ll want to avoid this post. If you feel that all of our political discourse should be sweetness and light, you’ll want to avoid this post. But I’ll be as positive as I can.
I know some candidates fairly well, but others I didn’t know at all, except their names, until about a week and a half ago. I got a late start this year, and the best I can do is tell you what I think so far. In some cases information we’ve published here, plus my conversations at last Monday’s candidate open house, constitute all I know.
It will be a couple of weeks before the numbers are official — the key word is canvass — but even last-minute mail-in ballots won’t change the election results in American Fork’s 2021 municipal election.
Mayor Brad Frost won a second term, defeating challenger Tim Holley with about 79% of the vote (based on Thursday’s updated count).
The three-way race for two city council seats saw incumbents Staci Valentine and Ryan Hunter win with about 44% of the vote each, while challenger Carissa George finished with about 13%. (Numbers are rounded.) Valentine won a second term; Hunter won his first full term, after his appointment earlier this year to finish the remaining months of the late Barbara Christiansen’s term.
The PARC tax renewal passed with about 75% of the vote. By law, it will be up for a vote again in about ten years.
Congratulations to the winners. Heartfelt thanks to all who ran — and to all the voters who make the effort to cast informed votes. I don’t have turnout data yet, but at least 4,900 voters’ votes have been counted so far.
[Later note: Turnout in American Fork was 37.9 percent, according to county results (a CSV file). That’s excellent for a local election — and even more so when you consider that a significant percentage of voter registration records are for people who no longer live in American Fork. Well done, voters! That’s up from 34.6 percent in 2019 (CSV) and 31.7 percent in 2017 (PDF) — a happy trend.]
Thanks also to the thousands of people who spent some time at afelection.info during this election season. We hope it helped. As we like to say, always #learnBEFOREyouvote.
A final note: American Fork’s races weren’t close, but we don’t have to look far for one that is. In Highland’s city council race, where four candidates vie for two seats, the difference between winning and losing so far is a mere 20 votes. The result could easily change as last-minute votes are counted. For now, Scott Smith is in second place, narrowly leading Jerry Abbott.
This week I received my mail-in ballot for the 2021 American Fork municipal election. Today, more swiftly than usual, I offer my handy, unapologetically opinionated guide for local voters.
On the ballot are a mayoral race, a city council race, and one proposition. (I have no idea why they call it Proposition #5.)
Before we start with the proposition, then move to the candidates, here’s some information:
Mail-in ballots may be mailed in, of course. You won’t need a stamp. They must be postmarked no later than Monday, November 1, 2021, the day before Election Day.
However, if you prefer to use a ballot drop box and save the City some postage, there’s one in American Fork at the public library, clearly marked, adjacent to the outdoor library return boxes. Official ballot drop boxes around the county will work too, even for this American Fork municipal election. Boxes will be available until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 2.
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.
It is time again for municipal elections in American Fork, and although we didn’t have a primary, both the mayoral and city candidate races are contested. The three top issues, according to residents, are growth, taxes, and code enforcement.
For mayor we have two candidates, Tim Holley and current mayor Brad Frost. We also have three city council candidates, incumbents Staci Carroll and Ryan Hunter, along with challenger Carissa George. Candidates appear here in the order they were interviewed.
The filing period for candidates in American Fork’s 2021 municipal election ran from June 1 to June 7. Two candidates, including the incumbent, filed for mayor. Three candidates, including both incumbents, filed for the two available city council seats. All terms are four years.
Because neither race has more than two candidates per seat, there will be no municipal primary election. There will be only the general election in November. We will likely see little campaign activity before Labor Day.
This is the second of several planned blog posts about a proposal the American Fork City Council is considering to extend fiber optic connectivity to every residence and business in American Fork as a utility. You can find a more detailed description of the proposal itself in the previous post, where I also explain my head start in knowing about the proposal.
Before we go further, I should interrupt for an apology. I hoped to post this before I left for Lake Tahoe (hence the photo) for a week at the end of July. Now it’s not even August any more, and I’m finally posting it. Sorry about that.
This post explores the expected benefits to residents, businesses, and the City itself, if we build the fiber system. This is one important angle from which to view the proposal. Another will follow in the next post: good and bad reasons for opposing it.
One of the first people I got to know in American Fork, after my family and I arrived in 1998, was J. H. Hadfield, known in recent years to American Forkers as Mayor Hadfield. He yielded the gavel this week, after two four-year terms, to our new mayor, Brad Frost.
We often say the words “public service” with a wink or an eye-roll, and we look mostly in vain for genuine heroes in our politics. I myself have less than a handful of heroes in national government, but they’re much easier to find at the local level. And sometimes public service really is service.
Mayor James H. Hadfield
Before They Were Mayors
J. H. enlisted me to serve as his assistant in a local church leadership assignment before he and I had even met, I think, and we worked together in those roles for the next four years. I quickly discovered, beneath a crusty exterior, a warm and generous heart, a keen and open mind, an eagerness to serve, a skill for delegation, a profound distaste for long meetings and bureaucratic baloney, and a humility one does not always find in seasoned leaders. He didn’t want fanfare; he was more interested in helping people. He had more energy for that than I did, and I am decades younger. I’ve spent most of my adult life in local church leadership, but a disproportionate number of my favorite behind-the-scenes stories have J. H. in them.
A few years later I would meet the first American Fork Mayor I knew before he ran for office, the late Heber Thompson. He and I worked together on a civic project for more than a year. I found him equally eager to serve and possessed of a quiet dignity and intelligence, to say nothing of a taste for French poetry. He ran for office and was elected in 2005. He and I had a few political differences along the way, but under his leadership the City addressed some large and difficult issues intelligently.
Heber was retired. He could have worked a lot less and enjoyed his retirement years more, but he wanted to serve, and he thought he could and should serve. And he didn’t take shortcuts. Before running for mayor he served in one of the busiest and most thankless unelected roles in the City, as a member of the Planning Commission.
J. H. was working in the City Engineer’s office at the time, and I knew he was looking forward to retiring and serving a particular church service mission. Colonel Hadfield (long of the Utah National Guard) wanted an assignment to work with members of the military somewhere. He spoke of this plan repeatedly to me — sometimes over french fries and milkshakes, after we visited one of our flock in a hospital in another city, where his dietary misbehavior was less likely to find its way to Mrs. Hadfield’s ears.
Serving Where Needed
Then came 2009. Mayor Thompson would seek reelection, hoping to serve one more term. Behind the scenes, two of the best people I have ever known, friends for whom J. H. also had great respect, began to twist his arm. They wanted him to run for mayor — my older friend against my newer friend. Somehow they persuaded him to put his dream retirement at risk — he might win — and he filed for office. He turned to me for help with his campaign, which I gladly provided. I thought he stood a good chance of winning, in part because, when I was out and about with him in our church service, everyone in northern Utah County seemed to know him, and he seemed to know everyone.
(Cool tangent: He and Mrs. Hadfield — Elaine — first crossed paths in a Lehi maternity ward, as newborns. By his account, she wouldn’t give him the time of day. Later he would win her favor, obviously, but it wasn’t easy.)
As we strategized in those early days of the campaign, I could see that he was running to win, not just to placate friends who wanted him to run. I knew of his hopes for his retirement years, and I could do the math even before he stated it outright: if he won, his service mission would have to be to the city, not to his beloved fellow soldiers somewhere.
He did win, and he narrowly won reelection in 2009, despite an anti-incumbent frenzy.
Mayor Hadfield’s Mission
In the ethos of church service — not just in the LDS Church — and in the ethos of military service, for that matter, we are sent where we are needed, and we go where we are sent. One of the many things we can learn from J. H. Hadfield and his greatest supporter, Elaine, is that civic service is crucially important too, and some of the best people are needed there. The examples of his predecessor, Mayor Thompson, and his wife, Vicki Thompson, with whom I served on a City committee, offer the same lesson.
Mayor Hadfield’s second and last term ended this week, but there will be no church service mission now. He has been battling cancer for a while. He and Elaine sacrificed the service they wanted, to serve where they were needed. And if we’re tempted to think that civic service — eight years of it! — is somehow less worthy or a lower calling than a church mission or two or three, their example could instruct us in that too.
Looking back, I see that there is much to honor in eight years of service by an excellent mayor. For one thing, he’s kinda like a superhero of infrastructure, and we needed one. (See a recent Daily Herald article.) But I thought you should know what some of his friends have seen and honored from the beginning.
Here on my thoughts on the races on my November 2017 general election ballot.
US House of Representatives, Utah District 3
In the special election to fill the latter half of former Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s term, there are three candidates of note.
Provo Mayor John Curtis is a sterling example of conservative governance — and not the ideologically poisoned kind some seek. His Democrat opponent has tried to paint him as a Donald Trump sycophant, but he and President Trump aren’t even on the same planet, as far as I can tell. Curtis will win, and he’ll be a big step up from Congressman Chaffetz. Always replace a show horse with a workhorse, when you can. Continue reading
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.