Goals & Policies
My Goals for Spanish Fork
Small Town Feel...
The number one question I have been asked since declaring my candidacy for mayor is what my thoughts and opinions are of the high density housing in Spanish Fork. Over the last few years, the current mayor and council have approved numerous developments consisting of high density housing, often requiring zoning changes which the council has gladly obliged. While I believe it is a good thing that people want to come to Spanish Fork, I see no need for the high density housing. We know that there is a housing shortage in this country and those who are quick to try and conjure up what they think is a solution will incorrectly assume that the best way to fill the high demand is with high density units. This is incorrect. According to the Wall Street Journal, the demand isn't simply "3.8 million units", but rather 3.8 million SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES that are in demand. For people looking to enter the housing market, a $400,000 brand new town home is not the entry point. People that have been in their homes for potentially decades, and have paid them off and are looking to upgrade with the equity they have are looking for new single-family homes to move to. The homes they are leaving are priced at the bottom of the market and those are the homes that people are entering the housing market at, thus the need for single-family units. The influx in high density homes in Spanish Fork isn't solving any problem, but creating many new ones including causing a lot of traffic in our town. The current council loves the large townhouse developments because they bring in money, not just from thousands of new citizens but from the state government per the Governor's request. I would opt out of this high density program and focus on scaling the growth of Spanish Fork to a more manageable level, and focus on keeping the small town feel that is now fleeting with each coming mega-townhouse development.
How about a pool or rec center?
This is the second most common question I am asked due to the current pool in Spanish Fork being done away with by the end of the year. As a true conservative and constitutionalist, I believe I provide the best solution to this problem, and it's not more taxes nor more government. We have become so accustomed to thinking something of a public nature should be provided by our governments, but that is not the role of government. Instead, I would rather make the point of entry easier for a private company to build a pool or rec center within our city limits. Private companies can do everything cheaper, quicker, and more efficiently than any government, and I think the best thing I could do as mayor to get this facility that so many in the city want is to let someone else do it. This way I can guarantee that there is no tax increase or any type of cost to citizens, and this will also likely result in a better facility with a lower entry cost to the citizens of Spanish Fork. I stay true to my word of not wanting to ever raise taxes and since I too would love a pool or rec center, I think this is the best way to get it without any compromise.
The citizens need to be heard!
I recently attended a city council meeting here in Spanish Fork and was extremely dismayed with the way things were run. I did not feel the council was interested in hearing what the citizens had to say, and I feel the current meeting format doesn't allow for adequate representation or healthy discussion around the issues being proposed that affect the individuals of our community and specific neighborhoods. If you are not familiar with the current format of the meetings during the times of proposed items that the council vote on, let me lay it out for you simply:
The city representative (in most cases, the Community and Economic Development Director (Dave Anderson)) presents the proposed item/change with arguments for why it should, and maybe should not, be approved. The council then opens it up to the "Public Hearing" segment which allows citizens to voice their opinions for or against the proposal. Each citizen is allotted a max of 3 minutes, (unless you are the special interest involved, then they seem to give you all the time in the world). They then open it up for deliberations among the council and various board members, followed by a vote by the council.
My frustration with this process is not only that they gave preferential treatment to the special interest individual (in this case, the developer looking to build high density housing in a nice, quiet neighborhood), but that the citizens were effectively silenced after their allotted 3 minutes per individual. This opened up the opportunity for straw-manning said citizens' arguments (which happened constantly) without giving the opportunity for a rebuttal or allowing for those citizens to offer clarifications. In this recent example, citizens were given a total of roughly 13 minutes to argue against the proposal that affects each one of them in that community, while the developer, council, and other city representatives argued in favor of the proposal for a total of roughly 69 minutes, 45 of which followed the "Public Hearing" segment and had no additional input from the citizens who are directly affected by the proposal.
In short, I think the allotments should be effectively reversed. I understand that they want to keep the meetings concise and having a time limit on people speaking is to prevent the meetings from going into all hours of the night, but if they are going to impose such a limitation on the citizens, they should incur the same limitations themselves. Yet I don't feel that solution is enough. I would love to see citizens taking up a majority of the segment around the proposal instead of the special interest and council. They are the ones affected, they are the voters, they are the tax payers, and they should be the number one priority. I would propose a new format as such:
The city representative presents the item being proposed, but does not voice opinions or arguments for or against the proposal in order to keep his segment concise. Citizens are still allotted 3 minutes per individual BUT will have more time during deliberations. After the public hearing, during deliberations, the council members, board members, committee members, etc. are also allotted only 3 minutes to present a case for or against the proposal, except in situations in which the legality of the situation, logistics, studies, etc. must be expounded upon, based on requests from the members in the deliberation. If a special interest is involved, they are then allotted 3 minutes for or against the proposal. A public hearing is then opened back up for rebuttals to prevent straw-manning arguments, or to provide additional points of view based on the new opinions stated. Each individual is presented an additional 60 seconds for a rebuttal argument for or against the proposal. If necessary, additional deliberations can be done from that point with a maximum of 30 seconds per member, followed by the council vote.
It is important to hear and consider the voices of professionals in their various fields potentially involved in these discussions and proposals, but the voices of the citizens should still be heard AND prioritized. In the end, this should be an open discussion and the structure of the meeting should be flexible to meet the demands of the citizens, and this structure should not be expected to be followed perfectly at any point, but simply acts as a supporting structure to maintain the flow of ideas and generate the necessary discussions.
Getting back to our heritage
In the rush to modernize and develop our city, we have often overlooked the desires and preferences of those who have lived here longer than us all. Where has our heritage gone? Our city moto is "Pride and Progress" but in the effort to progress, we forgot about our city pride.
I would love to re-establish the small town feel of Spanish Fork and revitalize the things that made this town unique, starting with Fiesta Days and Iceland Days! For the longest time, I have felt that only those of Icelandic decent were invited to participate in the long-held tradition of celebrating Icelandic heritage in Spanish Fork, but this isn't simply an event to be enjoyed by a select few, but by all of those who live here, embrace our values, and enjoy being part of a unique culture!
Spanish Fork is growing at an amazing rate, and the reach of our activities in years past seems to only spread to those who have been here for decades. How do we embrace those who are moving here and help them see and understand our culture and values? How do we involve everyone, city-wide, in various service projects, activities, and build a sense of unity and love for our fellow man? As a physically active young adult, I have loved the opportunities presented in years past to participate in tennis tournaments, kickball tournaments, city league basketball, softball, and more. I still participate in the occasional city league sport but I have become increasingly unaware of other activities going on around the town.
My goal is to bring back the excitement that used to exist around participating in various city events. Not just physical sports, but also various events that appeal to all demographics. We of course have rodeos, the occasional parade, and an assortment of other events throughout the year, but how can we involve more citizens? How can we excite them to be part of the community? How can we fellowship those on the furthest out-reaches of the city to make sure everyone feels like they aren't simply living in Spanish Fork, but that they are proud citizen of this town? I want our culture to be so exciting and inviting that cities around the world want to be just like us!
Removing red tape
I recently purchased a new house here in Spanish Fork and decided to start finishing my basement to enjoy every inch of my home. As I went through the permit process, I was amazed by how much "red tape" there was in simply getting the city to say "yes" to what I want to do with my own house. Paperwork, check boxes, and inspections galore. Don't get me wrong, I understand the "why" behind a lot of it; some of it is for the safety of those residing in the home as well as those who may reside in it in the future; we have building codes for a reason. But this is just one example of something that I feel can be refined and simplified to allow more freedom and flexibility to our citizens while still upholding standards of safety mixed with common sense. Please reach out to me if you have more ideas of processes that can be improved or simplified.
General Political Beliefs
I have many goals around how I would want to run a city, but I also think it is important for voters to understand a candidate's political beliefs, including those that may stretch beyond their jurisdiction. I believe you can see into the heart of an individual by understanding their vision of society. I have outlined some basic political beliefs that I hold that have implications on micro as well as macro levels:
Minimize taxes to the absolute lowest level possible with the goal of eventually getting rid of taxes all together. I know some people do not believe this is possible, and always say "What about infrastructure? What about police?" which are valid arguments in favor of some level of taxation, and in my opinion are probably 2 of the very few items that justify taxes, but those 2 important causes are among a drop in a bucket of the things our taxes are paying for. If we minimize taxes and allow companies to thrive, solicited donations alone will pay for the majority of the things that our city needs to maintain our livelihoods. Look at the fairgrounds for example. I also would love to remove property taxes. I know this is a long shot, and beyond the immediate reach of a Mayor but it is double taxation and I am of the opinion that property taxes should be illegal. I am also of the belief, as used to be the norm, that taxes should have expiration dates. If you need to raise taxes to pay for a project, do the math for how long that tax would need to be in effect, and set an expiration date for that tax increase.
Abortion is murder. I believe in "live and let live" in many aspects, but that is the argument often used against me when discussing abortion. How can I "live and let live" when you are not allowing that child to "live and let live?" Murder is already against the law, yet we allow such ambiguity around abortion laws. There are very few justifications for abortion, but many reasons to oppose it, as well as prevent the need for it in the first place.
I support our police. I believe 99.99%+ of police have our values in mind and are good people, willing to put their lives on the line in order to protect citizens. I do not support any level of cutting funding to police departments. I believe the only way to prevent some of the "injustices" that people believe to exist within the role of police officer in this country is to provide more and better training. I will always stand with our law enforcement.
I support small businesses. I believe one of the few roles of government is to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that includes taking action to prevent unconstitutional overreach by bigger governments, and preventing unconstitutional mandates and policies that hurt everyday working citizens, along with the companies that support them. I would turn down any type of mask mandate or any suggested closure of "non-essential" workers. If you have bills, your job is essential. That includes everyone. I understand that this is mostly in the past but I feel it is essential that my opinions on the matter are known, and that I am opposed to anything that would hurt companies or consumers, and I am prepared to stand up for small businesses if every presented with situations in the future that pose a threat to their success, or the livelihoods of those whom they employ.