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Ogden voter guide 2023

Mayor and City Council candidates answer questions ahead of the Nov. 21 general election

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Mayor

Taylor Knuth

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Taylor Knuth speaks in the Ogden Mayoral Debate at Weber State on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

Occupation: Deputy director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council in the Department of Economic Development

If elected, what would you do to provide more affordable housing options to Ogden residents? Would you support higher-density housing?

I believe that at any age or stage of life, you deserve to live in Ogden in a quality home, whether renting or owning. I have proposed the creation of a Housing Stability Department in Ogden City, the expansion of the Own in Ogden program, and increasing incentives for quality private development projects that align with our city’s new General Plan.

Yes, I support higher-density housing, so long as it’s placed in areas of our city where it is most appropriate — for example, on public transit lines and in our downtown core. Getting back to the basics of good government includes preserving the character of Ogden while it is being developed. We must grow without sacrificing the character of our city.

If elected, how would you improve transparency in the mayor’s office and establish a stronger relationship between the city council and members of the public?

The next mayor needs to be as comfortable on the front porch and in the community as they are behind a pulpit. Real change and connection happen when you meet residents where they are, not in a government office building.

The first thing I would do is ensure that residents have access to our city building. The mayor’s office belongs to each and every resident, and I’d hope to demonstrate that through consistent office hours and citizen meetings. I’d also ensure regular meetings with our press and reporters, city heads and departments, and business owners. We would also ensure regular updates from the mayor’s office are distributed to residents in multiple languages and formats.

A Knuth administration would be accountable, responsible, and accessible.

Aside from affordable housing and transparency, what is the biggest challenge Ogden faces, and how would you address it?

My top priority is public safety. The safety of our residents is paramount, and without it, nothing else can be achieved. Policing is a tough job, and my aim is to support our officers. They are often underpaid and overworked, handling myriad tasks beyond ensuring safety.

To address crime and streamline city government, I propose a community-oriented policing program expansion. This will strengthen the relationship between officers and residents. I also advocate for extending public safety partnerships, especially with mental health crises and homeless services teams. By enhancing collaboration, we can ensure the right team responds to each call, making our operations more efficient and cost-effective.

Moreover, I plan to establish a 411 line for non-emergent, non-violent issues — assisting both our emergency services and our 911 call volume. I also prioritize installing new technology, such as well-lit, mid-block crosswalks and upgraded street lighting, ensuring safer streets for our pedestrians.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I own a 133-year-old Victorian home on historic 25th Street that I’ve slowly been restoring with my partner Sean, his two dogs Ted and George, and his cat Tina.

Ben Nadolski

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ben Nadolski speaks in the Ogden Mayoral Debate at Weber State on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

Occupation: Northern Region Supervisor for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

If elected, what would you do to provide more affordable housing options to Ogden residents? Would you support higher-density housing?

Home ownership is the single-most effective way to build wealth and break the cycle of generational poverty. Ogden is building more than enough rental units, but we are falling short on building new homes for first-time buyers. I would prioritize updating the General Plan and related zoning and development ordinances to balance opportunities for rentals and owner-occupied homes.

Proper planning can ensure that apartments are located in the downtown core, rather than in commercial and residential zones, while leveraging the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and new zones (e.g., R2S) to build homes that are attainable for first time home buyers. I also support density bonuses for owner-occupied developments that are cost-free for the city, while incentivizing developers to voluntarily build owner-occupied homes at a scale that is more affordable.

If elected, how would you improve transparency in the mayor’s office and establish a stronger relationship between the city council and members of the public?

In my experience, we struggle to make great decisions without adequate public notification and input. The public shouldn’t hear a proposal for the first time as the council is taking formal action on it. Our administration would facilitate proactive stakeholder engagement meetings to address complex issues, and will build relationships with our partners and stakeholders as we look to the future.

For example, Ogden has a reputation for being hard to do business in, and it makes sense to engage with the business community to share their experiences and suggest improvements. This approach should facilitate a more cordial dialogue between the administration, City Council and the public, as those affected by our decisions were involved at the beginning.

I’d also work collaboratively with the council and the public to find alignment on key issues like housing, public safety, and RDA projects, etc. before asking the council to take action on such proposals.

Aside from affordable housing and transparency, what is the biggest challenge Ogden faces, and how would you address it?

We are challenged with simultaneously managing the pressures of population growth and decades of deferred maintenance on roads, sidewalks, stormwater, culinary water, and sewer lines.

We need to manage growth through proactive planning, zoning and ordinances. I will prioritize updates to our outdated General Plan, along with revisions to titles 14, 15, 17 and 18, which are the development codes that make up our zoning, subdivision, landmarks and outdoor sign ordnances. These policies will guide and control our growth by focusing density and impact in appropriate zones in and around our downtown where they belong, rather than neighborhoods.

Such proactive planning will guide us in our efforts to grow better and smarter, instead of just growing bigger. We must also prioritize infrastructure repairs using state and federal grants, low/no interest loans, General Fund revenues and fee-based Utility Fund balances.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I once lost 75 pounds, finished three Ironman Triathlons, and earned a Master’s Degree while working full-time — which was way easier than raising kids.

City Council

District 2

Richard Hyer is running for District 2 unopposed.

District 4

Dave Graf

Occupation: I retired in June of 2014.

If elected, what would you do to provide more affordable housing options to Ogden residents? Would you support higher-density housing?

Higher density is one of the keys to creating affordable housing. In addition, it creates walkable neighborhoods and neighborhood businesses and takes advantage of public transportation. We have opportunities to build smaller homes on smaller residential lots, reducing costs.

The “Own in Ogden” program to provide down payment assistance to home buyers, should be enhanced to provide more money per person than it does so as to keep up with the rising price of singlefamily homes.

Ogden’s roads and pipes are aging. If elected, what is your plan to replace the city’s infrastructure while ensuring a healthy city budget?

Ogden is northern Utah’s downtown and a destination for outdoor recreation. These and other things can be used to grow a robust economy, which will in turn grow revenue and our budget to repair and replace our roads, water and sewer lines. There is a limit to the burden placed on owners in the form of growing property taxes.

Aside from affordable housing and infrastructure, what is the biggest challenge Ogden faces, and how would you address it?

Growth! Utah is the fastest growing state in the U.S. and this growth is impacting Ogden.

I have been on Ogden City’s Planning Commission for 7 ½ years — 2 years as chair — and have insight into plans that are in place and are being developed for the future. My experience will put me is a position as a City Council member to work to ensure that our growth is done in a smart way. That means we must protect our historic neighborhoods, downtown, and Union Station. These things are a part of Ogden’s history, culture and charm and must not be lost, but instead, enhanced as Ogden grows.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

In 2020, my wife and I skied in the American Birkebeiner 50km cross-country ski race from Cable to Hayward Wisconsin.

Steven Van Wagoner

(Courtesy) Steven Van Wagoner, candidate for Ogden City Council's District 4 seat.

Occupation: Business owner & entrepreneur

If elected, what would you do to provide more affordable housing options to Ogden residents? Would you support higher-density housing?

Ogden faces an abundance of rental-only apartments, some potentially cutting corners, causing concern. Many of these apartments are unaffordable, prompting a need for a detailed supply chain analysis to boost affordability. This analysis should also include all empty land available as well a detailed report of the living wages compared to cost of living.

Community discussions reveal a desire for entry-level homes, patio homes, custom residences, starter homes, townhomes, and apartments. The community has the desire to purchase ownership housing product to build their own equity. Balancing neighborhood preservation with downtown development is crucial. The First Security Bank building, which has been vacant for 15 yeas, calls for focused community projects, emphasizing diverse housing and denser downtown living. Caution is advised in rezoning residential areas unless aligned with well-thought-out overlay zones, considering water, sewer, parks, traffic, and impacts on city services. A comprehensive plan should prioritize downtown growth before expanding outward.

Ogden’s roads and pipes are aging. If elected, what is your plan to replace the city’s infrastructure while ensuring a healthy city budget?

We presently enjoy a revenue stream, derived from the Ogden Business Depot, that is intended for the benefit of our citizens. The anticipated annual benefit for the citizens is approximately $10-12 million. Originally designated for capital improvement projects aimed at addressing our aging infrastructure — including roads, sidewalks, parks, and water systems — I propose a realignment and prioritization of these funds towards the direct enhancement of citizens’ infrastructure, addressing the needs of our existing residents.

I have an additional concern that lies particularly with our water infrastructure, as there seems to be a recurring practice of withdrawing funds from our utility enterprise fund, amounting to $6 million in 2023, and transferring it into the General Fund. I advocate for transparent accounting practices that are easily demonstrable to both the City Council and the citizens.

Aside from affordable housing and infrastructure, what is the biggest challenge Ogden faces, and how would you address it?

We need to listen to our citizens. The local economy is facing challenges concurrent with all taxing authority’s efforts to expand the tax base. Us, the people, cannot afford more taxes.

Presently, our building start initiations consist of roughly 80% rental-only apartments and about 20% ownership properties. The significant presence of out-of-state landlords owning rental-only properties is adversely affecting the local economy, resulting in an annual loss of millions of dollars for Ogden’s local economy. These funds are not retained within our community to support local businesses and build our local economy. Building apartments on commercially-zoned land impacts future sales tax. Failure to augment our sales tax has greatly necessitated shifting the burden onto property taxpayers, affecting both property owners and renters alike.

Our retired grandmas and grandpas, our young families, and all the citizens in between need a break from excessive taxation.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I was born in 1977, embolden on my jersey’s #77. I married Carey, born on 7/7/77. My primary vote lead was 77.

At Large Seat C

J. Levi Andersen

(Courtesy) J. Levi Andersen, candidate for Ogden City Council's At Large Seat C.

Occupation: History teacher at Mound Fort Junior High School in Ogden

If elected, what would you do to provide more affordable housing options to Ogden residents? Would you support higher-density housing?

I am committed to addressing the issue of affordable housing in our community, especially in the face of new housing developments. It is vital that as Ogden grows, we prioritize the availability of affordable housing options for all residents.

I will work to implement policies that encourage developers to include affordable housing units in their projects and will collaborate with local housing organizations to increase affordable housing stock. By striking a balance between growth and affordability, we can ensure that Ogden remains an inclusive and accessible community for everyone to call home.

Ogden’s roads and pipes are aging. If elected, what is your plan to replace the city’s infrastructure while ensuring a healthy city budget?

Investing in infrastructure is vital for the growth and well-being of Ogden. Our city needs modern, reliable infrastructure to support economic development, improve quality of life, and enhance safety. As a City Council candidate, I believe in responsible spending and keeping taxes low. I am committed to finding innovative solutions that balance the need for infrastructure investment with the importance of not burdening our taxpayers.

Aside from affordable housing and infrastructure, what is the biggest challenge Ogden faces, and how would you address it?

I believe it is vital to improve the lives of all Ogden’s citizens, which centers around empowering families in our community by providing comprehensive education about the wide range of resources available to help them improve their lives. I am committed to creating a robust information network that connects families with essential services such as educational programs, job training opportunities, childcare services, healthcare providers, mental health resources, financial assistance programs, and more. By ensuring easy access to this information and fostering collaborations with local organizations, we can empower families to make informed decisions, access vital resources, and unlock their full potential for personal growth and success. This will lead to less crime, more revenue for schools and infrastructure, and a thriving city.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I was selected Teacher of the Year for the Ogden School District and was awarded a free car (MazdaCX9).

Shaun Myers

(Courtesy) Shaun Myers, candidate for Ogden City Council's At Large Seat C.

Occupation: I am a funeral director and owner of Myers Mortuaries.

If elected, what would you do to provide more affordable housing options to Ogden residents? Would you support higher-density housing?

I served on the Ogden Community Foundation board for many years. For the past 20 years, the foundation has remodeled dozens and dozens of older homes in Ogden’s inner city. I believe that with the vision of our foundation, the city and other concerned individuals and groups, we began an important partnership in making inner-city Ogden a more vibrant, safe, and desirable place to live.

We must now set a new course to preserve the culture of city by striving to plan with developers, city officials and planners to build structures where private citizens of Ogden may own their own home, condo, townhome, or apartment. Instead of planning corporate apartments where tenants pay rent, my vision is to build creative developments where Ogden residents can own their own dwelling place. I conditionally support higher-density housing as long as Ogden residents can own their own dwelling place.

Ogden’s roads and pipes are aging. If elected, what is your plan to replace the city’s infrastructure while ensuring a healthy city budget?

Ogden’s infrastructure must be updated. I strongly support planning and budgeting to rebuild our city’s roads, water assets, and maintaining and improving our utilities. I propose this initiative by striving to bring in new businesses into our city, this will increase our tax base, bring in higher-paying jobs for our residents and decreasing the city’s dependence the taxes private citizens pay.

Aside from affordable housing and infrastructure, what is the biggest challenge Ogden faces, and how would you address it?

Ogden must plan for the future. This includes every aspect of city planning — from economic development to recreation for our youth and citizens of all ages. We must look to the future of how we can continue to make Ogden the best place to live and raise a family.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I love Ogden’s outdoor recreation, like bicycling, hiking, and skiing at our nearby ski resorts.