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.
Kasey Wright served as City Attorney in American Fork from 2008 to 2018. He now serves as City Attorney in Nephi and also represents the Juab School District. He lives and practices in Juab County. He wrote this primarily for his own community but graciously allowed it to be reprinted here.
“A community is only as good as those who live in it.” I read this in a Nephi city council candidate’s campaign pamphlet. While this statement is true, it is even more true that a community is only as good as those who serve in it.
Community service comes in many forms: coaching little league, shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, volunteering at the 4th of July or Pioneer Day celebrations. Generally, we praise and appreciate those who provide community service. But there is one type of public servant who all too often is mocked and disrespected for their service: our local city council, commissioners, and school board members.
Election Day is four days away, and many of us have already voted by mail. For the candidates, their families, close friends, and avid supporters, the end of a marathon looms — but in some ways it’s uphill to the finish line.
I’ve never been a candidate for political office, as candidates and officials sometimes remind me, when they don’t like what I write. But I’ve managed a few campaigns and staffed several others. I’ve advised numerous actual and potential candidates, and analyzed and commented on far too many issues and races (some would say). I’ve also lived with a candidate a couple of times — that is, I’ve lived with her for nearly 30 years, and she’s run for office a couple of times (and won).
So I have a lively appreciation for the look and feel of campaigns from the inside at this point in the election cycle — perhaps not for all candidates in all elections, but for many. Continue reading
In my one-on-one interviews I asked members of the American Fork City Council what concerns they hear from residents. Interviews take different directions, but I also asked most of them, “If your term ended tomorrow, what have you done or accomplished of which you’re proudest?” In some cases, they disclaimed any personal credit and described […]
David, thank you for another stellar round of posts. I really appreciate and enjoy your reporting and insights. Looking forward…
I like Mike! A good man, doing good things and if it ain’t boke, don’t change the Sheriff. He has…
You're welcome! Glad it helped.
Thank you for posting the audio in easy, well-organized formats for me to catch up on and educate myself about…
You're welcome! Thanks for your kind words and for adding your own view.