LOGAN – The six people vying for three open seats on the Logan Municipal Council appeared together for an election forum Monday night, covering a broad range of topics like housing, transportation, climate change and the city’s relationship with Utah State University.
The event was polite and cordial as each candidate attempted to separate themselves with details, which at times seemed challenging because there was little disagreement on some of the difficulties facing the city and what needs to be accomplished down the road.
The forum was held in the Municipal Council chambers and moderated by Jason Williams, host of KVNU’s For the People radio program.
The format included opening statements from each candidate, followed by questions selected by Williams, from audience members, radio listeners and Facebook posts.
Williams solicited questions from his radio listeners over the last several weeks and said the majority of concerns centered on “houses and cars.”
“In one way or another, phrased in a hundred different ways, everyone who emailed in a question wanted to talk about where everyone’s going to live and where they’re going to drive,” he said.
With that, each candidate shared their vision for housing and transportation.
On the subject of housing:
Ken Heare – “We have a scarcity issue here in town and we don’t have the geography to continue to grow and put subdivisions everywhere. We’re going to have to continue identifying where higher density housing is going to go in. We need to be taking input from our community as to what kind of housing we want to see. It’s going to take residents and developers and the different departments within the city all coming together and sitting down and really hammering out what that’s going to look like….over the next 10-15 years.”
Keegan Garrity – “I have a unique approach to affordable housing. I think when we talk about housing being affordable, a lot of times it’s in the context of how can we get housing cheaper? How can we put more people in a smaller square footage, which I think is part of it? But I think an important part of affordable housing is raising the median income. The thing that raises incomes is better jobs. I think Logan suffers a marketing problem and I think it would behoove us to do a better job of letting these companies know that we have the talent here and that we can support good jobs.”
Tom Jensen – “I would suggest that we have a mix of section 8 housing, which is federal aid for those people who are 30% of the average median and also having affordable housing in a higher density and having mix. We have a project being proposed downtown that will have a mix of affordable housing and market housing and you don’t see the poor people live here and the rich people live here. It’s all the same. And that’s a new model that we’re doing that we integrate people.”
On the subject of transportation:
Abraham Verdoes – “I think the one-way couplet is clearly the way to go for the city. You put one-way streets on 100 east and 100 west and you try and restrict traffic on Main Street down to one lane with additional parking. I think bike lanes are an important part of what needs to be built out and we need to make sure that…what we’re building is best in class and future proofed. I think there’s a lot of things we can do to help reduce traffic in this city, protect cyclists, modernize it and all of these things also protect our air quality and environment and create a more walkable community.”
Jeannie Simmonds – “In order to help alleviate some of (the traffic), the one-way couplet study that we’ve just embarked upon will augment one we did quite a long time ago in trying to find a better solution for the traffic. Our bus is free. We are a rarity in the United States as well as in Utah. If we can keep the bus free, then we can encourage people to really actively use it and…provide routes that are more user friendly and are more consistent.”
Mark Anderson – “It’s all about perspective and to me it’s about educating our community on other options on how they can move around. There’s a lot of people that are using the bus, but there’s a lot more people that don’t realize they can use the bus. There are a lot of people who don’t realize there are other options for them to move around and we need to educate our community and educate people about the different options they have. There are a lot of ways we can fix the streets. There are a lot of problems that we won’t be able to address, but by education and finding other solutions from other communities we can find some solutions for our community as well.”
The candidates were also asked about climate change, pollution in the city, the importance of building relationships with Utah State University and other cities in Cache County.
All of the candidates agree that building a new library is important and the facility should be a cultural center and gathering place for the community. They also would like to partner with the county to make it a library that everyone can utilize.
To hear the entire election forum, click on the audio below.
AUDIO: Logan City Candidate Forum on Sept. 30, 2019 – Hour 1
AUDIO: Logan City Candidate Forum on Sept. 30, 2019 – Hour 2