Six of Provo's mayoral candidates agree on at least one thing - that the current city administration should be changed and someone should unseat Mayor Joe Jenkins.
This seemed to be one consensus at Friday night's debate, sponsored by the Utah County Clean Air Coalition, where all candidates but Jenkins, who was unable to attend, voiced opinions and philosophies on Utah County economical and environmental issues.Coalition members asked the candidates questions about the current city administration, Geneva, Provo water rights, economic development, Seven Peaks and Provo Canyon issues.
Calling himself "the clean choice," Sherman Hislop said if elected mayor he would clean up the environment along with cleaning up the "creative bookkeeping" of the city. He said he would bring cost-effectiveness into city government and restore volunteer positions. He also reassured coalition members that he would make things miserable for those in positions up or down from him when it comes to clean air.
"There is no giving in on clean air. If it includes being mean I can do that. I can be loving to my grandchildren," he said as the audience laughed.
Hislop said he would never make a deal with a governor or a senator over clean air. He also emphasized that if it was proven to him that Geneva was directly inhibiting economic growth in Provo, he would have to consider doing what he could to see it closed.
Verl Dixon, Provo's mayor from 1962 to 1973, said the current city budget is 330 percent more expensive than it was nine years ago. He said if elected mayor he would put a percentage of his paycheck into funding the new city library.
Dixon also said he would support all projects for restoring Provo's heritage, including supporting the restoration of Academy Square. He also stressed the importance of restoring volunteer positions in the city administration. He said consideration of the "rank-and-file members" of city government should be upheld.
Dixon also said if elected mayor he would insist on a thorough investigation of past city funding.
In her opening statement, Shari Holweg said, "Every time I hear Verl talk he convinces me to vote for him,"
In the course of the debate, Holweg said if elected mayor she would pursue district heating possibilities for Provo. She said there was a disservice done to the community environmentally and financially when district heating possibilities for Provo were dropped.
Holweg said Provo's water rights should be put in the hands of those who are knowledgeable about them. She also said she doesn't believe legislation is the answer for decreasing the use of woodburning stoves in the valley, but if she were elected mayor she would look at an incentive program that would financially compensate Provo residents who use fuel in place of wood-burning stoves. Both financial and environmental benefits would then come back to citizens.
Holweg said what's been missing in dealing with the Geneva issue is that leaders aren't tapping the resource that should be used - that of the men and women who work there. Holweg believes problems can be solved through them.
"A mayor can't solve all the environmental problems, but for a mayor who truly cares, in four years an enormous amount can be done," she said.
Wayne Spence said the city leaders can't control industries outside the city boundaries, but they can influence them by being environmentally conscious themselves. Spence said that no one source can solve the problem. He outlined several steps for solving the problem, such as putting more pressure on the government to be tough with industries and transportation, using car pools and public transportation, pressuring the county to influence outside areas of industry, and educating residents to change their lifestyles. "When I am elected I commit myself to working actively with industry and the environment," he said.
Harold C. Johnson said he remembers when pollution in Utah Valley was worse than it is now. "Geneva is not as bad as it was years ago," he said. "I wouldn't shut it down."
He said the city should do governing and business should handle business. "I want to bring financial sanity back to Provo," he said.
Johnson also said if elected mayor he would like to see an airport in Provo. He believes an airport in Provo would attract more corporations to the area.
Hislop disagreed. "I've been at the corporate level and an airport is not a requirement for corporations," he said. "An airport would probably make the environmental problem worse."
Stan Elwood said Provo water rights have been jeopardized over the past four years. He emphasized the need for more air monitors in the county to indicate the source of pollution. He also said students of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley Community College should be under the same state emission requirements as other citizens in Provo. If elected, he said, he would demand a state audit of city records.
Incumbent Joe Jenkins was unable to participate in the debate because the city's "Provo Days" banquet was scheduled at the same time. However, in a letter to John Hall, chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the coalition, Jenkins said he believes his concern for clean air in Utah County has been "well established."
As an example, Jenkins said the use of coal at the city's downtown power plant has been discontinued. Instead, the city is using natural gas. Jenkins also said that Provo City had turned down an offer from Westinghouse Electric to become a joint participant in the purchase, renovation and operation of the coal-fired Hale Plant at the mouth of Provo Canyon. Utah Power & Light Co. has operated the electricity-generation plant in the past.
Jenkins said that although studies indicated the joint venture would be good economically for Provo and would provide a long-term power source, the city had decided it would not be appropriate to operate the plant because of the contribution it would necessarily make to air pollution in Utah Valley.
Jenkins said the state implementation plan proposed by the Bureau of Air Quality is fair and provides a basis from which to begin cleaning up the air in the county.