Learn BEFORE you vote. (Not an official website of American Fork City.)

Tag: Ernie John (Page 1 of 2)

Clark Taylor Joins American Fork City Council

On January 9 the American Fork City Council appointed Clark Taylor to fill the vacancy Brad Frost left on the council when he was sworn in as mayor the previous week, after winning in the November election. Frost was two years into his second term on the council, so the appointment is for the remaining two years of that four-year term.

Clark Taylor

Utah law provides for the council to fill such a vacancy. The City announced the vacancy in December, took applications until January 5, then heard from each applicant in the January 9 meeting, before choosing Taylor unanimously on the first ballot.

The other applicants were:

  • Jeff Shorter, who lost in the November general election, running as a one-term incumbent;
  • Kyle Barratt, who lost in the November general election;
  • George Brown, who served on the council several terms ago and has since run unsuccessfully for mayor;
  • Ernie John, who lost in the 2017 primary;
  • Bruce Frandsen
  • Amber Marstella
  • Charelle Lyon

If you’d like to examine the applications, they’re publicly available and pages 4-29 of this PDF file, which includes the meeting agenda and the council members’ packet of information for the meeting. They include written responses to several questions. To see the candidates’ statements to the council in their meeting, a long and avoidable discussion of the voting process, and the vote itself, turn to the City’s YouTube channel for video of the meeting. (The agenda, which is at the beginning of the packet at the previous link, will help you navigate the video.)

I don’t know how much back-channel discussion went on among council members in the days prior to the vote, or what additional contact any of them might have had with applicants or with Mayor Frost. (There’s no reason for it not to have occurred, but anything involving at least three of them at a time would have to have been noticed in advance and treated as a public meeting.) I didn’t speak about the process or the vote on the record with any of the council; nor did I speak with the candidates themselves. Nor, for that matter, am I acquainted with all of them. However, I thought the result was predictable.

Clark Taylor has served on the council twice before, as recently as two years ago, and is known to be a workhorse and to work well with others. His name has been tossed about in the past as a strong potential mayoral candidate. Such a congenial, energetic workhorse would have great appeal to the rest of the council and the mayor, coming in the wake of four years during which some members of the council were known to be less than energetic in accepting and fulfilling committee assignments.

So I thought the outcome was predictable, given that Taylor’s name was on the list. And the unanimous first ballot is noteworthy, but — at least for me — no surprise.

All of that said, there were other strong candidates in the field. The tougher the decision, the luckier we are.

So . . . thanks to all who applied, and congratulations to Councilman Taylor.

David’s Notes and Commentary: October 7 City Council Debate

Audio recordings of the October 7 city council debate in American Fork are available here, separated by question. The American Fork Chamber of Commerce also posted a single, long video recording of the event. This post is not intended to substitute for listening or watching, nor is it a play-by-play. I’ll tell you some of the things the candidates said and some of the things I think. So you are duly warned that this post contains more opinion than objective reportage.

I’ll link to a few audio segments and suggest that you listen to them. The full set is available at the link above.

Your comments are welcome, of course, and you certainly don’t have to agree with me.

The four candidates for city council on my ballot — it arrived today, and I checked — are Barbara Christiansen, incumbent Jeff Shorter, Kyle Barratt, and Staci Carroll. (I list them in the order in which they were seated at the event, alphabetically by first name. And I’ll use their first names here, to simplify your connections between these notes and the recordings.) Continue reading

American Fork Election Results (updated)

Here’s an updated report of primary election results, based on updated counts released this afternoon. There will be further updates — by state law, on Tuesdays and Fridays — before the official canvass on Tuesday, August 29, but the votes added in subsequent updates will likely be far fewer.

The big news for American Fork voters is that the outcome of the city council race changed. Incumbent city councilor Jeff Shorter moved into fourth place ahead of Ernie John by 27 votes, pushing the latter out of the general election, if the result holds. This isn’t a big surprise; in Tuesday’s results the margin was a mere nine votes.

Continue reading

American Fork Election Results (Tentative)

I’ve been waiting to post local election results, hoping for numbers more recent than 10:09 p.m. on election night — given that most of the ballots were mailed, and a lot of them presumably didn’t arrive in time to be counted on Tuesday evening.

I finally called the county clerk’s office, where I learned that state law requires them to publish updated numbers on Fridays and Tuesdays, until the final canvass two weeks after election day. They said they might publish an update sooner, but so far they haven’t.

So without waiting further, let’s see what we know. Continue reading

David’s Handy American Fork Election Guide, 2017 Primary Edition

Warning: This post contains my own opinions. If you’ve come to afelection.info only for candidate information, such as contact information, our Q&A, or John Mulholland’s notes on his candidate interviews, and you don’t care to encounter my personal views, thanks for stopping by. Please use one of the links I just gave you to back away now.

For the rest of you, here are my quick thoughts on the races which appear on my ballot for the 2017 primary election in American Fork, including a race that’s there by mistake. If you want more commentary and analysis, see my notes on the mayoral and city council debates.

US House of Representatives, Utah District 3, Republican Primary

This race should not be on my ballot, and my vote won’t be counted if I cast one, because I am not longer a Republican. I do favor a closed primary, by the way, in which only Republicans vote to choose the Republican nominee. And I like that the signature method of getting on the ballot has given us — well, them — a solid alternative to Chris Herrod.

If I were voting, I’d favor Provo Mayor John Curtis over former state legislator Chris Herrod and newcomer Tanner Ainge. All three have credentials. Most of a million dollars of out-of-state money has been spent trying to convince voters that Herrod and Ainge are each the only true conservative in the race — spent by factions for whom truth and transparency are only two of the weapons in the arsenal, and apparently not the favorites.

I prefer a solid conservative record of governance (Curtis’s) over loudly-proclaimed conservative principles. (No, I don’t think Herrod is right when he claims Curtis can’t be a conservative because he supported Bus Rapid Transit.) I prefer in-state money to out-of-state money. And I prefer a productive, reasonable temperament to an unproven temperament (Ainge) or a proven record of uncivil behavior (Herrod, according to people I trust who’ve worked with him).

I also prefer workhorses to show horses, so Mayor Curtis will be a big step up from the Congressman he proposes to replace.

Curtis is the likely winner. I look forward to voting for him in the general election. If he loses, watch for the new United Utah Party to make a strong run, in the person of candidate Jim Bennett.

American Fork Mayor

Current Councilman Brad Frost is light years ahead of fellow Councilman Carlton Bowen and longtime resident Daniel Copper. We’ll wonder why we have to have a general election at all. I’m voting Brad Frost on the basis of experience, productivity, temperament, hard work, and not the slightest trace of ideological poisoning, among other things. He shows up, he does the math, he connects numbers and principles to the realities of governing, and he communicates well. This distinguishes him in an otherwise weak field.

More thoughts on this race are in my very candid notes on the mayoral debate.

American Fork City Council

We can vote for two city council candidates; four will proceed to the general election. This is an especially strong field of candidates; we should be grateful to them all for that. It would take some effort to cast a bad vote.

My votes go to Staci Carroll and Barbara Christiansen, with a wish that I had a third vote for Ernie John. These three lift themselves above other good candidates by their experience in local government and their extensive knowledge of city issues. A key factor in my two preferences among these three is their excellent communication (actual communication, not just skills) and the fact that they’ve been attending the council’s Thursday work sessions too, which cannot be watched online, not just attending or watching the regular Tuesday evening meetings.

That said, you’re not casting a bad vote, if you vote for incumbent Jeff Shorter, Kyle Barratt, or Doug Richards. As I said in my notes on the city council debate, we’d have rejoiced to have any of them in some of our previous city council races. I like them all — and in Councilman Shorter’s case, that’s a big change for me.

As regards the other two candidates, Bill Houlin dropped out of the race. As far as I know, Aaron Clegg hasn’t dropped out. But he’s basically been a no-show. That and the fact that all I know about him is that he has been endorsed on fliers touting Carlton Bowen and Chris Herrod . . .

Well, you never know whether he actually fits that unimpressive mold until you get to know him, his temperament, and his views. A similarly toxic right-wing faction backed current Councilman Kevin Barnes two years ago, until they found out that he didn’t fit their view of the world and didn’t want their endorsement. As soon as I got to know him, I became an eager supporter of Councilman Barnes, and I still am. We’ll talk about that in two years, if he runs again.

Anyway, maybe a vote for Aaron Clegg would be a bad vote. Maybe it wouldn’t. How would we know?

Watch for these four to emerge from the primary, not necessarily in this order: Staci Carroll, Barbara Christiansen, Ernie John, and Councilman Jeff Shorter. The contest in the general election will be a delight, with such a field.

Final Note

My friends, we’ve had over 4,500 page views at afelection.info during this primary election cycle, as of this morning. This leads us to think that our efforts to help connect voters to candidates are working. Thanks for reading!

Thanks especially to the candidates — to all of them for running, and to most of them for helping us here.

Thanks to John Mulholland for his interviews and his notes on them, and to Rod Martin for those “Learn Before You Vote” signs. (If you want one before the general election, holler.)

To the people who’ve stopped me on the street or called or e-mailed me, wanting to know for whom you should vote . . .

Those of you who want to hear my reasons flatter me.

Those of you who want only the names, not details, scare me a little. (Only a little, because I know you to be good people.)

To all of you, vote as you think best, of course . . . but vote!

John’s Interviews with American Fork City Council Candidates

It is often hard to get information about city council candidates, so in an effort to help people become more informed about pressing issues, I have spent the time interviewing the candidates for you. Please still feel free to reach out to them if you have additional questions.

Staci Carroll

Staci Carroll

Staci Carroll

Staci Carroll has a background in family science and has studied how groups work together. She has worked for several different companies, from a small tech startup to being a marketing manager at NuSkin. She has also served on the PARC tax advisory board and has seen many positive things already come from the PARC tax.

Staci feels that she brings a different voice to the city, as a young mother with kids in the fray. With a father who served as a state senator, Staci feels that she understands how to effectively work with others. She said that so-called back room deals are really just people building consensus ahead of a public meeting, so better solutions are developed. Continue reading

Now Available: July 29 Candidate Audio and David’s Commentary


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.

While we’re at it, here’s a link to the American Fork Chamber of Commerce’s video recording of the event, just posted today.


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.

David’s Notes on the June 29 City Council Debate

As before, this is not an attempt to give a complete play-by-play report of everything each candidate said. It’s one guy’s notes and opinions, and I’ll be candid. That said, if you read my thoughts on the mayoral debate, you’ll notice that these take a different tone. There’s a good reason for that. The six candidates who showed up are a strong field.

There’s another good reason for that, now that I think of it. I set the bar higher for mayor.

Before we proceed, a warning: If you’re at this site just for information, not opinion and analysis, hit the back button now. This post is opinionated, though it takes a gentler, happier tone than my similar post on the mayoral debate — for good reason, as I suppose.

I came away from the event thinking that the six good candidates I heard divide themselves into two tiers. There have been races in the past where I’d have rejoiced to have any or all of the three second-tier candidates on my ballot. They seem sensible, they have some awareness of city government and its issues, and they have experiences and education which could make them an asset on the city council. I could vote for any of them, if it weren’t for the three candidates in the first tier.

The first-tier candidates distinguish themselves by their experience, mostly within and around city government, and their command of details. I wish I had three votes, and I’m going to spend some time deciding which particularly good candidate doesn’t get my vote, even as I hope for all three to survive the primary.

At the end I’ll tell which candidates I place in which tier.

As before, you don’t need me to tell you what they said. If you want to hear the candidates themselves, audio is available in a separate post. And I won’t always quote the questions here, though I do in the post with the audio. You may not need me to tell you what it all means — but I’m about to try, for anyone who’s interested.
Continue reading

American Fork – Primary – City Council Candidates Audio

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.

If you want my notes, commentary, and analysis, they’re in a separate post, so readers who wish to avoid them can do so easily

Attendance was about 50, not including candidates. The moderator was State Auditor John Dougall. Questions came from the audience.

Audio from the mayoral candidates‘ portion of the event is in a separate blog post, and the American Fork Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event, has posted video recording on YouTube. Here also is the Daily Herald‘s report of the event. (Apologies for the unpleasant ad experience there.)

Six of eight candidates who filed were present. In seating order:

  • Barbara Christiansen
  • Staci Carroll
  • Kyle Barratt
  • Doug Richards
  • Jeff Shorter (incumbent)
  • Ernie John

Continue reading

American Fork City Council Candidates Contact Information

[Updated 7 August 2017]

Here is all the contact information I’ve found for this year’s candidates for American Fork Mayor. I started with official data from afcity.org; the rest I’ve accumulated from various online sources.

If you live or work in American Fork, you should join the All About American Fork group on Facebook. Most of what happens there isn’t politics, but candidates and related events also pop up there from time to time. See also the City’s Voter Information Pamphlet.

If you’re a candidate — or even a voter — who has additional information for any of these, please send it to me, and I’ll verify it and post it. Note that I have not included links in some cases where I think I found the right person, but the profile lacks a photo or is empty. For now, at least, I have included personal Facebook, Twitter, and other social media links, whether there is recent political content there or not. Continue reading

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