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Lively council races shape up in W. Jordan

Call West Jordan a city in motion.

A decade of residential growth, construction along most of the major roadways and unprecedented demands on municipal services have left many residents gasping for help.The city has witnessed numerous improvement projects in the past few years including a new pair of water tanks, closures along Redwood Road and a new soccer complex that promises to attract tournaments from around the globe.

Meanwhile, folks continue to move into the city, placing even more demands on the city's infrastructure.

A quartet of City Council candidates hope they'll get the chance to revive their constituents.

Incumbents Brian D. Pitts and Gordon M. Haight are being challenged in Tuesday's election by political newcomers Carolyn Nelson and Monty S. Young.

Two will be selected to the six-member council

The opponents survived the primary vote, outlasting D. Hilton Ripplinger.

The incumbents got the early nod on the primary ballots, with Haight and Pitts receiving 1,147 and 1,107 votes respectively.

Nelson followed with 898 primary votes. Young had 323.

Despite falling behind, the challengers seem determined to make a run for the seats next week.

All the candidates admit some growth is inevitable.

Learning to deal with - and manage - development is the key.

Some candidates say City Hall needs to do more to regulate growth; others say the city will prosper if it simply sticks to the master and general land use plan.

More than $2.5 million of the city's budget is gleaned from property taxes. Attracting commercial development is vital.

Most told the Deseret News that development needs to generate money or better serve West Jordan residents, perhaps in the form of a community center or youth recreational program.

The city's public safety department is also of keen interest to future city leaders.

Providing West Jordan police and fire officials with the tools they need to curb youth crime and serve a growing community are key concerns.

(Information on mayoral candidates Donna Evans and Kelly Atkinson was published Wednesday. More will be printed Sunday.)

Here's a brief look at the City Council candidates:

Gordon M. Haight

Address: 3076 W. 9050 South

Age: 61

Occupation: School teacher

Experience: Incumbent City Council member, served on West Jordan's Good Neighbor Committee, past PTA president.

What can you bring to city government? I listen to people and make sound judgments. I have no agenda. I just want to do what's best for the city. I think I have a general knowledge of our city's general plan and an understanding of what's needed.

Dealing with growth: I know growth has to be planned out well; it can't be hodge-podge decisions. Urban areas should stay urban, industrial area should stay industrial and residential areas should remain residential.

What the city needs: We need a lot more economic development. We need to develop a strong tax base. Crime is always a problem. We have a good public safety department. We've put a lot of money into our police force to make sure we have well-trained officers. We have good fire service as well. We have to keep improving citizen services and control growth. More economic development will help everyone.

Carolyn Nelson

Address: 9091 S. Excaliber Way

Age: 56

Occupation: School crossing guard

Experience: West Jordan planning and zoning commission, chairwoman of West Jordan's sesquicentennial committee, former member of master planning committee.

What can you bring to city government? I can bring a fresh approach to the City Council. I have a strong civic background and the ability to commit my time - day or night - to do what is needed.

Dealing with growth: Growth needs to be managed better. West Jordan has a good general plan if we just follow it. We need to attract better quality commercial and residential development and make sure our infrastructure keeps up with development.

What the city needs: Our children's safety depends on a communitywide sidewalk system. Some of our schoolchildren are having to walk in the street. Our safety spot (crosswalk) program has been very successful. It's a program where young students wait on a safety spot painted on the sidewalk and wait until it is time to cross the road. West Jordan also needs a city center to identify with. I'd propose a theme-oriented center with upscale restaurants and office buildings.

Brian D. Pitts

Address: 2644 Beverly Glen Ave.

Age: 41

Occupation: FAA transportation and quality assurance manager.

Experience: Incumbent city councilman, Little League sports coach and volunteer with the Boy Scouts, member of the West Jordan Good Neighbor Committee.

What can you bring to city government? Being an incumbent gave me the experience needed to get the job done quicker. I have an understanding of how things work. Beyond that, I have an honest desire to be a good city councilman and listen to people's needs.

Dealing with government: The city has a lot of good tools in place, like the general land use and master plan, and I believe we should follow those plans. I'd like to look for ways to accelerate those plans to bring them into fruition sooner. We have a number of other (growth-related) committees made up entirely of West Jordan citizens. When people get involved we end up with a better city.

What the city needs: Involvement from the citizens. The number of citizens who have served on the land-use committee has numbered in the hundreds. Each different resident brings a different perspective to the city. We also need to concentrate on public safety. I'm a big proponent of strong public safety. I believe in zero tolerance for gang and youth crime and in youth programs to provide alternatives for young people. I would also push to get our roads and sidewalks in good, safe condition.

Monty S. Young

Address: 2909 W. 7460 South

Age: 54

Occupation: Truck driver for ACE Disposal.

Experience: National Guard, retired.

What can you bring to city government? A commitment to regulate development. We're growing, and I don't have a problem with that, but it's the city's responsibility to provide services. I'd like to regulate development and locate industry to recruit high-paying, good jobs. This can be a learning experience for me. I'd like to learn how to help people

Dealing with growth: We have to regulate growth in an intelligent manner. This is something we have to work on; I know it's a problem. Our zoning committee will make recommendations to the City Council, but often they don't want to listen.

What the city needs: Regulation and development. I don't want to put a cap on development, but we need to properly develop resources to ensure a good quality of life. Our citizens are good; we need to figure out how to regulate growth.