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Coalition launches to promote ethics in Ogden government

Published May 26, 2011 4:31 pm

Ogden • Group aims to impact government conduct, not endorse candidates.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A group of Ogden residents have launched the Ogden Ethics Project, not to endorse this season's growing slate of municipal candidates, they say, but to promote open and fair government.

"We're looking forward, not backward," said project organizer Dan Schroeder, a frequent critic of three-term Mayor Matthew Godfrey.

On the project's website, ogdenethics.org, Schroeder lays out a laundry list of problems that he believes need to be addressed, ranging from insider deals to financial shell games, media misuse and questionable campaign contributions.

"The point there is not to lay blame," Schroeder said. "It's important to document what the problems have been" — in order to put better policies in place.

Godfrey announced earlier this year that he will not seek a fourth term, so November's vote will usher in a new mayor and perhaps new faces on the City Council.

However, the Ogden Ethics Project will not endorse candidates during campaign season, Schroeder said, nor will it accept donations. But Schroeder hopes to impact future government conduct.

"That's why we're doing this now," Schroeder said. "We'd like to get all the candidates — mayor and council — talking about ethics in the course of their campaigns."

The filing period to run for Ogden's open seats is July 1 to 15.

So far, five people have registered personal campaign committees with the intent to run for mayor: Ogden's Community Development Manager Jonny Ballard, former Weber County Commissioner Ken Bischoff, Weber County's Public Information Officer Mike Caldwell, former state Rep. Neil Hansen, and City Councilman Brandon Stephenson.

Stephenson's Ward 2 council seat will become an open race this year. Council Chairwoman Caitlin Gochnour's Ward 4 seat and the at-large seat held by Councilwoman Amy Wicks will also be on November's ballot.

In forming the Ogden Ethics Project, Schroeder said he drew inspiration from Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG), a statewide organization that unsuccessfully pushed ballot initiatives in recent years.

State lawmakers opposed UEG's efforts, pledging instead to institute their own reforms, many of which fell short of the goals UEG had hoped to accomplish.

The board of advisers for Schroeder's group consists of former council members Mary Hall and Dorrene Jeske, attorney Deb Badger, Jock Glidden, Thom Kuehls and David Smith.

The project intends to educate Ogden residents on several issues, including the need for stronger conflict of interest policies and cleaner municipal campaigns.

To learn more, go to ogdenethics.org.

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

Twitter: @catmck —

The Ogden Ethics Project

O To learn more or to volunteer, go to ogdenethics.org. The project can also be found on Facebook.