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Orem candidates divided over how to plan for future

Some might say Orem enjoys the best of both worlds - unprecedented growth accompanied by a thriving commercial community.

Others, particularly those challenging incumbents for seats on the City Council, say it's time to stop and assess before Orem is completely built out and overrun with traffic and people.In the race for council positions, it's evident that the town is divided on how to approach the future.

Newcomers say let's approach with caution, take our time and study opportunities before they become obligations.

Those in office say they've already exercised as much caution as is prudent when decisions mean money to the city and/or to a developer.

Issues include adequate housing at an affordable price vs. too much high-density housing going in too quickly, high-volume traffic on bigger roads that have traditionally run through rural neighborhoods, increasing costs for sewer service and a perceived lack of responsiveness to citizen input.

Three four-year seats are open - Stephen Sandstrom's and those of Timothy Christensen and Chris Yandow, who both decided not to run for second terms.

Twelve candidates filed to run for City Council in the primary with that number slashed to six by voters in October.

Some names are familiar. In addition to the incumbent, Mike Thompson has run for the council twice, and Joseph Andersen's father, Hans Verlan Andersen, ran against Mayor Stella Welsh four years ago.

Kelvin Clayton hopes to return to the City Council. He lost a re-election bid two years ago after serving eight years.

ReNae Brereton is well-known to citizens as an outspoken and articulate planning commissioner. Bill Peperone has been highly visible in his work to represent the NorthEast Neighbors as they fought to keep their area out of plans for a business park proposed by EsNet Corp.

(Information on mayoral candidates Joe Nelson and Stella Welsh was published Oct. 20. More will be printed Sunday.)

The City Council candidates are:

Joseph Andersen

Address: 1724 S. 165 West

Age: 21

Occupation: Loan officer for Keystone Mortgage.

Experience: Worked for Hans Verlan Andersen's and Tom Draschill's campaigns.

Personal information: Single, currently a physics student at Brigham Young University.

What about growth? There should be no spot zoning. I think neighborhoods should control their own zoning. Growth is going to happen, but let's leave it to grow naturally.

I don't think we should be pushing growth.

Priority issues? The biggest one obviously is dealing with the growth than brings traffic.

Government's No. 1 responsibility is to defend the citizens with adequate protection, and we need a steady budget that's there for the city's needs.

What can you bring to the table? I'm young. I work hard. I want to provide a listening ear. I think I'll bring a fresh perspective. I'm not so set down in any one view. I'll be more representative of the common guy.

What will you change? I want to raise my family here as everybody does. I want it to continue to be a good place to live. I'll call for an increase in the area of notification when there's an issue that involves a neighborhood to twice what it is now.

How responsive is the council? They're not responsive. A good city government needs to be responsive to the needs of the people, and it's not. They're (officials) worried about building up a great big tax base and making a profit.

Soapbox issue? I'm against incentives. I'm also the only candidate who lives south of 800 North. The northeast area has been controlling the city. Five of the seven council members live in the northeast quadrant.

ReNae Brereton

Address: 1158 N. 900 West

Age: 34

Occupation: Hair stylist, owner of 9th West Hair Design and Ultimate Images.

Experience: Three years on the planning commission, chairman of the Orem State Street Business Organization.

Personal information: Married with four children.

What about growth? I think one of the things we have to do is look at the ratio of commercial to residential. In the new planned unit development ordinance we (the planning commission) tried to plug for a livable ratio of 70/30. We need to be careful about commercial activity near residential areas. I don't think we safeguard our neigh-borhoods enough.

Priority issues? It seems to be: what can we do to slow things down? There are too many multiple units, which I do think in certain areas are OK. Others have too much.

I'm worried about the stability of Orem businesses. I feel there's been advantages given to new businesses.

What can you bring to the table? I've already proven that I'm willing to work hard. I'm very proud of my relationships with the City Council, with state leaders and with the citizens. I bring with me the benefit of the respect that I've earned.

What will you change? I want to get back to the 70/30 ratio. I also think we need to encourage student housing that is very near the college.

How responsive is the council? We need to have more timely advance information of issues with extended noticed areas. I don't have burning issues with them because I get my vote and when I disagree, I call them up.

Soapbox issue? I think good government is courage, the courage to let citizens know what's going on and then when you make up your mind, stick with it, stay on the path.

Kelvin Clayton

Address: 853 E. 880 North

Age: 62

Occupation: Alpine School District administrator.

Experience: Served two terms on the Orem City Council and on the planning commission. Served on the Joint Highway Commission as co-chairman.

Personal information: Married with four children, 16 grandchildren.

What about growth? That's an area where personal property rights clash with the right of someone to develop his land yet we have a limit of what we can handle. We need to make wise use of the remaining land. There's not a lot left in Orem.

Priority issues? The traffic congestion is almost intolerable. We have a lot of unnecessary stops we ought to eliminate so we can move traffic and a lot of cul-de-sacs between 800 North and 400 North. There are lots of fields that need to be opened up.

We need to take a look at how we support small businesses, avoid creating a need to drive to a business area.

What can you bring to the table? I just love Orem. I'd do anything for this community. I think I can bring experience. I feel really accountable for every tax dollar in the budget.

I worry about some of the taxation taking place because the intent when we decided to become a regional shopping center was to keep taxes low as the tradeoff.

What will you change? We need more citizen involvement. We all have to get involved.

How responsive is the council? I think things happen that upset people and all of a sudden you get them involved. They need to be involved all along. Look at the sewer and water rate change; there was not as much input as they could have used early on.

Soapbox issue? I'm very supportive of law enforcement. We should not have a tolerance for gangs at all.

Bill Peperone

Address: 872 N. 1400 East

Age: 36

Occupation: City planner with Hubble En-gineering.

Experience: Has been a city and county planner for local governmental entities for six years, has been a private planning consultant for four years.

Personal information: Married with three children.

What about growth? Development has been allowed to spread without the guidance of a comprehensive plan for Orem's future. Neighborhoods need to be protected from commercial encroachment. Citizens need to have the opportunity to give input earlier in the process while there's still time to make a difference.

Priority issues? Crime and gangs, that's what I'm hearing. People are disappointed that is not getting more attention in the campaign. Other issues are certainly the growth and traffic and how poorly lit Orem is.

What can you bring to the table? Expertise. To me, there are some things they're doing really well, for example, the Children's Library, and the city's in good financial shape, but the city is desperately lacking direction in leadership. I hope to add that direction.

What will you change? Good government is user friendly, easy for citizens to use and to be involved, not just reactive but proactive.

How responsive is the council? They're very responsive once a group storms City Hall.

Look at the recent controversy over the sewer rate change. That's not an isolated incident. I'm saying we can learn a lot from what others are doing, such as setting up neighborhood councils.

Soapbox issue? I want to see the city processes changed to more carefully consider neighborhood input.

Stephen Eric Sandstrom

Address: 1765 N. Skyline Drive

Age: 33

Occupation: Owner of Sandstrom Architects

Experience: Seeking a second term on the City Council, ran for GOP nomination to Congress in 1996.

Personal information: Married with three children

What about growth? The best thing we can do is acquire and preserve open space because then nothing can be developed on it.

Priority issues? One of the biggest issues is finding out how to preserve the quality of life while encouraging the management of growth.

What can you bring to the table? My biggest thing is always trying to listen to people, to all sides of an issue and to try to be fair. My occupation as an architect gives me a different perspective that is useful in understanding different things.

What will you change? We've accomplished a lot. I feel good about it.

How responsive is the council? I think we've been really responsive. It amazes me when I look back that people can say we haven't been responsive. Look at the northeast neighborhood. We changed the zone like they wanted. They wanted a moratorium. We did that. The westside park was taken off the surplus list when the neighbors asked for that. We listened to the neighborhood around Target when that store came in.

Soapbox issues? I think just because we didn't vote every time like people think we should have, they think we didn't listen to them when sometimes we had to just follow the law.

I also don't believe people have any idea of all the meetings we go to. When people say we haven't studied an issue enough, they haven't seen the kind of time we've put in.

Mike Thompson

Address: 1010 W. 1420 North

Age: 49

Occupation: Self-employed as an attorney.

Experience: Served on the Utah County Board of Adjustments, as a congressional intern and has run for office in Orem in two elections.

Personal information: Married with one child.

What about growth? I understand unbridled development because I was forced to move once because of it.

There's not a lot of open space left. We need some freedom in the community. They can protect that by not changing the zones all the time, making sure people feel they are protected in their neighborhoods.

Priority issues? The issue now is not redevelopment as it was in previous elections but tax incentives. It's just plain wrong to give an advantage to one business over another.

We need to be careful.

People are not feeling safe. We need city-wide lighting but people need to understand the costs involved.

What can you bring to the table? I work for myself so I can listen. I have the time. I know a lot of people and have worked with people in their neighborhoods. I know what they tell me they want.

What will you change? I don't think people are being listened to. I think people want to be listened to. I can listen. We need leadership, action and compassion.

How responsive is the council? That is a problem. People are the government. Citizens should have a say. They don't feel the council responds when something's wrong.

Soapbox issue? Not everything's bad but that's changing; a lot of people are leaving Orem because they don't like the changes.