The six Heber City Council candidates sat down for a debate on Monday evening. The event was hosted by the Wasatch Taxpayers Association where candidates participated in three discussions each lasting about 20 minutes.
The first discussion revolved around Heber City and Wasatch Counties Memorandum of Understanding and also the plans to build the Eastern Bypass. The Eastern Bypass would connect developments on the Northeast side of Heber City, such as Red Ledges, to U.S. 40. Red Ledges, Heber City, and the New London development all have obligations to build parts of the road. Incumbent Ron Crittenden argues the road hasn’t been built because each entity is waiting on the other. Crittenden has pushed that Red Ledges and Heber City stick to a deadline to create their portions of the road.
“They need to finish it and we need to do our part. We need to do our section,” Crittenden continued. “It's an embarrassment if we can't build ours in two years, when we're asking them to build there's. So, I'm committed to doing everything I can to get C, everything I can to get B, let A take care of itself; it ought to be built too.”
Candidate Perry Rose agrees that a bypass road needs to be built but worries that building sections B and C without a deadline for portion A will create traffic issues.
“If we put that road through there, now we're going to dump it on to 550 East all that traffic,” Rose said. “Then where’s it going? It's going to come right back down to 5th North and right down the front of our school and all of our churches. Realistically, that's worse than what we have right now.”
The second discussion regarded transparency from the city council. One idea brought up was publishing council members voting records. Crittenden reported that an effort to make voting records accessible was voted down. Fellow incumbent Jeff Bradshaw voted against the effort but now says he’d vote for it with a revision.
“I was one of the ones against because there was an implication that we wanted to go back in the minutes and recreate this which would probably be a very long cumbersome thing to do,” Bradshaw explained. “I think going forward if the people really want that; that can be done fairly simply.”
Ryan Stack proposes increasing public outreach and making council agendas accessible. In addition, he says the city ought to make quarterly and yearly vision statements available.
“We transition from being reactive, to proactive. When we sit down in the January retreats that the council and the planning commission has every year, why not hash out our visionary agenda for the year? This is where we want to go,” Stack continued. “These are the big 30,000-foot view. These are the big objectives we really want to work towards achieving and put it out.”
The final discussion revolved around managing growth. Mike Johnston understands that growth is coming, with many master plans in the county already approved. Johnston is in favor of annexing the properties currently before Heber City Council.
“The city is where growth should be,” Johnston said. “I support density in a city, not sprawl outside of the city. Now cities do need to grow though, and they should slowly grow. If we don't annex it then that's going to become the shiny new city on the hill. And Heber City will languish because we have still all the impacts, we don't have any of the revenue, any of the property tax, any of the control of what happens.”
Rachel Kahler wants the city to dictate growth, not developers.
“I’ve been amazed how many developers come to the Planning Commission spit balling ideas, what do you think? We should have a plan,” Kahler explained. “We should be saying this is what we want to build moving forward. Not let people come in and say Hey I'd like to put this in and that in. That should be our vision; not someone from the outside coming in.”
Candidates also answered questions from the 15 or so citizens in attendance. The Wasatch Taxpayers Association filmed the entire discussion and the candidates answers to audience questions. The video will be made available on the associations YouTube page.