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Heber City council candidates rehash the issues on Local News Hour

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KPCW wrapped up its election interviews Friday with an hour devoted to the four candidates running for Heber City Council.

The issues facing Heber City range from growth to airport expansion, and from increased taxes to new reinvestment financing strategies.

Wayne Hardman is the only candidate on the ballot running for re-election. As a lifelong resident of Heber, Hardman has seen a lot of changes to the valley and witnessed the increasing growth pressures. As a kid, he was responsible for getting his family’s cows across Main St. – which couldn’t happen today. Still, he says, he thinks city leaders have done a good job planning.

“I've lived there for like I said 72 years,” Hardman said. “And I've seen a lot of change over the years, and I think when I was a kid growing up, it was a very laid back place to live a very rural community. I think that growing up we really didn't know that the great valley we had we just took it all for granted. And now as it's grown, and more people are moving in. You see that the change...the growth, the busy streets.”

All four candidates say they supported the 2018 Wasatch County $10 million bond and would support more open space by potentially putting an open space bond to Heber City residents -- even though it would mean a tax increase.

Bryce Hoover says he wants to be the voice of the people and does not support increasing taxes. While he would support letting residents decide if they want to tax themselves with an open space bond, he does not agree with the council’s vote earlier this year to increase the city budget. Further, he doesn’t support the proposed RAP tax that’s on the ballot, which would increase sales tax by 1/10 of one percent to support recreation, art, and parks. He also doesn’t favor the CRA – the community reinvestment agency, approved by the council earlier this year to help support the revitalization of downtown.

“My whole platform is anti-taxing the citizens,” Hoover said. “And so I am actually against the rap tax even though I love the recreation arts and parks, I don't feel like we need to keep adding on more taxes. I don't support the CRA, I don't agree with taking taxes from other entities to try to reinvest into other things. I think down the road you're, you're just increasing taxes on the people, and that's what I'm not for. I don't want to increase taxes on the public of Wasatch County, or Heber City. My biggest worry is taxing families out of the valley and I want to keep these multi-generational families here in the valley.”

Candidates Hardman and Scott Phillips both support using the CRA to help redevelop Heber’s downtown area. Like Hoover, Yvonne Barney says she wants to re-energize Heber’s Main St. but doesn’t support using the CRA to finance it.

Phillips says he supports the revitalization of the downtown area and building the new bypass on the western side of town.

“My vision for that would be multi use developments commercial and residential,” Phillips said. “We have a great opportunity to get traffic off of Main Street with a bypass road reroute highway 40 Connect around the West Side directly to 189 and allow Heber City to take back that main, main street with trees, parking beautification. Make it a destination make it somewhere where people want to go and have an experience a dining experience or shopping experience. Because that's what people are looking for experiences.”

All four of the candidates say they don’t want to increase the size of the Heber airport. They agree that the safety enhancements must be done to keep it in line with federal regulations for a so-called C2 airport. But none of them want to see commercial airplane traffic, longer runways, or the footprint of the existing airport enlarged.

Heber City is the only community along the Wasatch Back that chose to implement ranked choice voting. Candidates Hardman, Hoover, and Phillips say they think it’s worked well. It has saved them time from having to campaign for a primary as well as saving the city money by not having to hold a primary election.

Barney, however, thinks ranked choice voting has alienated some residents.

“I don't think that it's working,” Barney said. “I've had too many individuals who as I've gone out that feel very uncomfortable with it, especially the elderly. I know that they said that they were going to reach out to those individuals, but you know what it takes a lot to do something like that when they have been so used to having at a certain way. Also, they're confused, who are the incumbents, there was no, no signature of or anything posting on there that Kelleen and Jay were the incumbents, things like that you know I just feel like it just takes away from, from what we really needed to do in a very important election.”

Ballots have been mailed out. If you haven’t received yours, check with the county clerk’s office. Ballots must be postmarked by Monday, November 1st or put into a drop box on Election Day November 2nd by 8 p.m.