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PROVO MAYOR NOT AFRAID OF CONTROVERSIAL DECISIONS

SHARE PROVO MAYOR NOT AFRAID OF CONTROVERSIAL DECISIONS

Mayor George Stewart said he'd be disappointed if all residents approve of the job he's done during his first year in office.

"Your decisions as mayor are not going to be popular with all people, so if everybody likes what you're doing then that means you're not doing enough," Stewart said.According to a Deseret News poll of 137 Provo residents conducted by Dan Jones and Associates, 48 percent of residents give Stewart a positive job performance rating. Sixteen percent of residents disapprove of Stewart's performance and 37 percent don't know.

The poll shows that most who disapprove of Stewart's performance are between the age of 35 and 49. Most who said they don't know are under 35. The poll was conducted between Dec. 5 and 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

Stewart said he likes the poll's ratios. Even though 16 percent of residents don't like his performance, the results show that most residents at least are aware of his position on issues, Stewart said.

"If you're doing something, you're going to have a number of people upset with you. That's the price of progress," he said.

The mayor is pleased that most residents give him a positive approval rating. During his first year, Stewart has been aggressive and has not been afraid to take a strong stand on certain issues.

"I'm willing to do what I think is right for the city and take the heat for my decisions," he said.

Even though Stewart's positions on some issues have been met with opposition from the City Council, there's little doubt that Stewart has more respect from the council than past mayors. In fact, several council members made those remarks during last year's budget hearings.

"It's nice to have a mayor that spends the money the way we ask him to and not just sit over there and tell us he'll spend the money on whatever he wants," councilman Jim Daley said.

On some issues where the administration and council have had differing views, Stewart has usually been responsive to the council's concerns and, in most cases, been flexible.

The mayor has not been flexible on Academy Square and is standing strong on his position of keeping an agreement to tear down the buildings and sell the land to Georgetown Development. He also was not too flexible on his stance of opposing a proposed hotel in the Riverbottoms area in north Provo. John Q. Hammons wanted to build a hotel and convention center on the location, but Stewart believes the proper place for a hotel and convention center is downtown. Hammons later took his plans to Orem, but that project has since stalled.

"I think time has treated me well on that one," Stewart said.

As far as first-year accomplishments, Stewart is most proud of changes in the Public Safety Department. Construction will begin soon on a new fire station in west Provo, and the city recently hired 10 new police officers. The city also placed two officers in local schools.

"We might have the lowest crime rate in the country for a city of our size, but crime will increase if we don't keep on top of it," the mayor said.

Stewart also points to several property acquisitions as key accomplishments. Besides purchasing Academy Square, the city also bought land for Rock Canyon Trailhead Park and property in south Provo for a future shopping mall. More than $300,000 was spent on sidewalk repairs and more than $680,000 on storm drain projects. The city is moving forward with plans to build a connector road between U.S. 89 and U.S. 189 and is pushing for state and federal funds to build a new interchange on South University Avenue.

"I think it's clear that this city is moving forward," Stewart said.

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Additional Information

Utah County Poll

Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of Provo mayor George Stewart?

Strongly approve .......15 percent

Somewhat approve....33 percent

Somewhat disapprove..9 percent

Strongly disapprove......7 percent

Don't know..................37 percent

Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of Orem mayor Stella Welsh?

Strongly approve .................18 percent

Somewhat approve..............37 percent

Somewhat disapprove.......... 5 percent

Strongly disapprove...............1 percent

Don't know ...........................39 percent

Poll conducted Dec. 5-10, 1994. Margin of error +/- 5% on interviews of 137 registered voters in Provo and 133 in Orem. Conducted by Dan Jones & Associates. Copyright 1994 Deseret News. Dan Jones & Associates, an independent organization founded in 1980, polls for the Deseret News and KSL. Its clients include other organizations and some political candidates.