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Orem Mayor

How much should Orem attempt to control growth, if at all?

JOE NELSON: Developers should be required to meet with the neighbors they'll affect and hammer out details. We've made some mistakes with hurried development. There has to be development, but I'm not in favor of any package deals like that potentially involving the Cascade business park and the west acreage obtained from EsNet. We have to make sure neighbors are protected.

STELLA WELSH: I think we need to manage the growth. I don't know if we want to control it, but I do think we need to manage it. Then people need to understand, if it's a rezone we can turn a project away, but if it's within the proper zone there's no way we can turn a developer down without inviting legal problems. That's something I don't think most people really understand.

What is the priority issue for the community?

J.N.: There are two very, very strong things. Spot zoning: People are worried about protecting their neighborhoods from unnecessary growth. The other big issue is the city does not need to give large incentives to get businesses to Orem. People don't want that happening. It gives an unfair situation to those businesses already here, and that's not right.

S.W.: Traffic is still a priority, and growth. We've gone from 53,000 population in 1980 to 85,000, and it's not just Orem that's growing. It's Salt Lake and Wasatch County and Summit County. The question is how all of this relates to Orem. No city is an island. It wouldn't matter if we never brought in another business or built another apartment, we would continue to experience growth and the demands that come with it.

What other issues concern you?

J.N.: Street lighting is a challenge and needs to be addressed. I personally think it ought to be a cost to the city. The dark streets invite crime. I don't think the city ought to get involved in running a golf course. The city needs to stay out of the way of the free-enterprise system. There needs to be none of this secretive stuff. I found out about a project right in my back yard that none of us knew anything about when I chanced on a plot plan. People need to be informed well in advance. The city's divided; we need to get that out of the way.

S.W.: Traffic problems on Geneva Road have to be addressed. There's been an explosion of development on the section from University Parkway to Center Street. There are no sidewalks, there are railroad tracks, and it belongs in five different jurisdictions. I'm committed to citywide street lighting using sales-tax revenue, and we need a new swimming pool in Orem. I think we need to stay committed to the development of open space, but I am adamantly opposed to the city running a golf course. I also think we have a problem with retention of businesses along State Street.

How can government responsiveness be improved among Orem officials?

J.N.: Based on my personal experience, involvement with neighbors should start before (the issue) gets to the Planning Commission. I feel very strongly about this, as do people in the city. People are feeling not heard. We need to build up strong neighborhoods and organize neighborhood councils. Have people working together - I believe in that. It brings the whole city together.

S.W.: I think it's always a problem, people feeling government doesn't listen. I truly believe we have listened as much as any. I personally have always met with those who want to meet with me. One reason we instigated the neighborhood town meetings was to try to reach people and hear their issues. Maybe we need to do more of that.

Should Orem change its form of government to include a full-time mayor?

J.N.: I'm running on the basis of the way it is, but people are talking about it. It's going to have to be looked at. Having a full-time mayor opens up avenues, especially in state government areas.

S.W.: No, absolutely not, I don't think we should change the form of government. Orem could go to a full-time mayor, but it should not change the form of government. This is the best form of government.

Welsh's question for Nelson: What do you think about the enticement made to get JC Penney to move to the Provo Towne Centre mall?

My understanding is JC Penney was offered a quarter of the ownership by the developer and not the city. I'm not opposed to that if it's not the city's money. It's the use of city money that bothers me.

Nelson's question for Welsh: Why did you depart from your 1991 campaign promise that discouraged offering incentives to entice new businesses, competing unfairly with existing businesses?

I was absolutely wrong when I made those statements. As for the business incentives, if we don't give them some help we will lose them. It benefits all to have a thriving marketplace. It's an advantage, not a disadvantage, to have competition.

Welsh's question for Nelson: How do you feel qualified to be a mayor when you really haven't been involved in civic government up to now?

I have had experience and exposure on city and county boards and committees. That plus my experience in business qualifies me. The city's a big business. If you're saying that you have to have experience on the council before you can run, you're eliminating everyone but a few. That isn't right. Anyone has a right to run.

Nelson's question for Welsh: How do you explain Orem's present bonded indebtedness of nearly $24 million when you questioned the $6 million jump in indebtedness in one year when you ran in 1991?

I didn't understand the system when I made that statement. All I can say is that Orem's rating is now as high as we could go. We made an almost-unheard-of jump to a double-A rating. We're in solid financial shape, that's a fact, or we wouldn't enjoy that kind of rating.