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11 seek 2 South Jordan seats

Candidates single out growth, infrastructure as their top concerns

SOUTH JORDAN — Residents will vote next month in two primary races to narrow the field of candidates seeking to replace two City Council candidates.

Neither Mary Wenner from District 3 nor Ann Gayheart from District 5 is running for re-election, both citing family obligations.

The open races have attracted a lot of candidates, especially in District 3, where eight candidates are in the running. In District 5, there are three candidates.

Candidates were asked to respond to a questionnaire sent by the Deseret Morning News. Among the responses received, almost all candidates named growth and management of infrastructure to handle that growth as a top issue facing the city.

District 3, the city's largest district, covers most of the area west of 2700 West — a fast-growing area that includes Kennecott Land's new Daybreak planned community.

Candidate Linda Auger, a child-care licensing specialist with the state, called the city's growth "tremendous" and said her biggest concern is "how do we maintain the infrastructure of the city during our growth period with the least amount of stress on the residents?"

Auger's previous political experience includes working on various state House and U.S. congressional campaigns.

Escrow officer Brian Butters, 60, said the city's two biggest issues are "controlled development — I emphasize controlled — and establishing a tax base to support the city and its needs."

Butters formerly served on the board of directors of the now-defunct Glenmore Special Service District.

Candidate Drew Chamberlain, 43, owner of a photocopier sales and service company, believes roads are the city's biggest infrastructure concern.

"South Jordan is a great place to live — with really crappy roads," he wrote. "Oh, we have plenty of money, we just spend it on a myriad of things that are wasteful." He mentioned the city's swimming pool and golf course among that wastefulness.

Chamberlain has served as chairman of the Coalition for Accountable Government and as a member of the board of directors for's legislative report card. He has also been on the Salt Lake County Republican Party's Executive Committee and Central Committee.

Another candidate, Ronald Holt, 69, a licensed armed security officer working for the Utah National Guard, also mentioned the swimming pool and golf course as money-wasters.

The former chairman of the board for the Glenmore Special Service District said fiscal prudence is important, especially as the city experiences rapid growth. "I ran the (Glenmore) district on a prudent basis," he said. "I am a believer in the smaller the government, the better service you'll get."

He also said the city needs to improve water pressure, which he said is being diminished by growth.

For Lori M. Harding, 36, who listed her occupation as "assistant vice president executive banking relationship manager," growth demands "hands-on consideration and careful planning on behalf of the City Council. They are our voice. This should include specific planning and goals for roads, taxes, schooling issues, etc."

Harding said District 3's rapid growth should make the district eligible to be split into two or three smaller districts, giving the area more representation.

Attorney John C. Heath, 34, said the city's residential growth must be matched by commercial development to give the city a tax base that can pay for services for the new residents and to ensure the city can retain its "beautiful neighborhoods, numerous open spaces and services that rival any neighboring community."

This race is Heath's first political experience.

Michael Nilson, 54, a manager in the Workers Compensation Fund underwriting department, also said infrastructure and maintaining South Jordan's character must accompany the growth.

"It's important to keep up with the infrastructure at all levels — water, sewer, light, streets," he said. "I live in a wonderful, beautiful neighborhood. I want to make sure that continues."

Nilson has been a state and county delegate for the Republican Party.

Similarly, Mike Szlachetka, 62, a retired Army officer currently working in banking, said the city must find a balance between residential growth and commercial development, with an eye on maintaining open space. He also wrote of "sustainability — providing required levels of services and infrastructure commensurate with growth while keeping taxes equitable and within acceptable limits."

This race is Szlachetka's first time in politics.

In District 5, a smaller district in central South Jordan, similar themes showed up in candidates' questionnaire responses.

Former Councilman LaMar A. Mabey, 56, was on the South Jordan Council from 1980-84 and again in 1990-94. The appraiser with the Utah Department of Transportation listed economic development, transportation, water, parks, recreation and open space as the major issues he is concerned with. He wants to work with private land owners to bring new, diverse business to the city, supporting a mix of large, small and high-density lots where appropriate.

He also wants to see 11400 South and Redwood Road widened in certain areas and an extension of light rail to Daybreak.

Health-care career placement executive Larry Short, 48, said his priorities are "residential zoning, business development, secondary water rights and, last but not least, taxes."

He said commercial development should be focused in areas "not in someone's back yard, but in appropriate locations already planned for."

Short listed as his political experience his regular attendance of council and Planning and Zoning meetings, including his role in "preventing the existing zoning laws from being manipulated solely for the benefit of one individual."

Liberty Homes operations manager Mark T. Woolley, who has been a South Jordan planning commissioner and member of the city's Economic Development Committee, wrote that city government is responsible for managing growth and "cultivating a healthy business environment." He touted "the three concepts of sustainable development: social equity, environmental protection and economic development."

He also said city officials must work with neighboring cities to plan transportation that will meet residents' needs as their numbers grow.