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Cedar Hills fields 2 hopefuls in 4 races

Cedar Hills might have one of the quietest elections in the state. Then again, it could be one of the most interesting.

The north Utah County town is struggling to carve out its own identity and separate itself from larger neighbors American Fork and Pleasant Grove. Although the town was involved in a heated border dispute with Pleasant Grove earlier this year, things in Cedar Hills have been quiet lately. Perhaps that's why only two candidates registered to run for the mayor's post and three open seats on the Town Council.Mayor Elizabeth Johnson believes residents may be content with the way things have been going. She contrasts the town's serenity with neighboring American Fork's recent controversies. Dissatisfaction with political infighting brought out more than 20 candidates in American Fork's primary elec-tion.

With only incumbent Johnson registered to run for mayor and Brad Sears seeking one of three open council seats, the door is open for write-in candidates. Because Cedar Hills is a town, write-in candidates don't have to register their intent to run. Whoever can get their name to appear on the most ballots will win. Combine that with the possibility of low voter turnout, and the prospect is frightening.

"It could potentially be a wild election," Johnson said. "Someone could come in and write his name in and get his wife and neighbors to write him in and get elected. It's a real wild card."

Johnson, 35, has served one full term as a councilwoman and has been mayor the past two years. She and her husband, Bill, have four children. She thinks the town has made excellent progress in the area of assembling a staff to deal with growth.

In the past year, Cedar Hills hired a full-time administrator and a full-time building inspector. The city staff now numbers four full-time employees and one part-timer.

With the staff in place, Johnson's primary goal for her next term is developing a sense of community. She believes doing things like creating parks and upgrading town celebrations will help Cedar Hills be recognized as its own town instead of a subdivision of Pleasant Grove.

Brad Sears, 39, is a real-estate professional who was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Town Council two years ago. "I've enjoyed seeing the positive things that have happened in Cedar Hills over the last couple of years," he said. He believes a handful of critical issues face the town that he would like to continue to work on as a member of the council.

Sears is seeking one of two open four-year seats on the Town Council. The other seat and a two-year seat will either be snatched up by write-ins or will be filled by appointment. Sears and his wife, Judy, have five children.

He believes four critical issues face the town: continued enhancement of the town's water and sewer systems; developing more parks and trails; dealing with the commercial development that he believes will eventually come to the town; and developing a long-term solution to the city's public safety needs.

Sears isn't sure what caused the dearth of candidates in Cedar Hills this year. A neighbor told Sears he planned to run but was out of town and missed the deadline to file. Talk around town is that at least two residents consider themselves write-in candidates, although no serious campaigns have apparently been mounted.

"I have heard of a few neighbors who are thinking of running as write-in candidates," Sears said. He is encouraging residents who might have a desire to run and who have the town's best interests at heart to consider write-in campaigns.