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Explosive growth is top issue in Heber City

HEBER — Candidates for municipal elections here are most concerned about balancing the area's explosive growth with its traditional small-town atmosphere.

Each of the three mayoral candidates — Kent L. King, Shari K. Lazenby and David R. Phillips — and six of the 10 City Council candidates said they are the best choice for office, but few offer specific plans for the complex issues Heber will face in the next four years.

The Census Bureau released figures this week that showed Heber is the second-fastest growing small city in the country — it swelled 15.1 percent from 2000 to 2003. Because of that growth, residents are anxious to keep their rural lifestyles but have come under tremendous pressure to urbanize.

Some City Council and mayoral candidates said that Heber cannot provide increased services to its growing population without increasing its commercial base, yet the city has thus far resisted allowing large retailers. Candidates offer no clear solutions for keeping the community's reputation as a quiet alternative to Salt Lake Valley hubbub and Park City prices with revenue from now-nonexistent businesses.

Voters will choose two of the three mayoral candidates to advance from the Oct. 4 primary election to the Nov. 8 general election. Also, four of the 10 registered City Council candidates will survive the primary to compete for two at-large seats.

Candidates responded to Deseret Morning News questionnaires; summaries of their brief biographies follow.


King, 41, wants two things for Heber — better activities for youths (in the form of a recreation center) and a stronger business base in town. "It seems apparent that our youths need a place to go and participate in positive activities," said King, a mortgage broker. "Recreation facilities such as a recreation center, aquatics center and skate park would provide such an environment." Businesses that close or leave threaten the possibility of higher property taxes, but the city needs better job opportunities for its residents, he said.

Lazenby, 34, wants city government to start treating constituents like customers. Lazenby, who owns a shoe store, said Heber officials should respond better to residents and business owners through "a mission-driven work environment that gives them the authority to perform their jobs more effectively." That approach would help the city "be better prepared to serve and find obtainable solutions" to its problems.

Phillips, 55, wants to keep a tighter rein on Heber's stunning growth by updating a master plan for the city. The growth puts pressure on city officials to encourage "businesses and jobs that not only enable families to make a living in Heber City but contribute to the tax structure needed to support the services provided by the city to its residents," said Phillips, an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

City Council

Jeffery M. Bradshaw, 60, wants to alleviate potentially steep taxes he thinks are likely if Heber does not soon court more businesses. "The city needs to become business-friendly and help and encourage businesses to establish themselves in Heber City, instead of trying to think of ways to prevent them from operating their businesses," said Bradshaw, a CPA.

John Hayes Burns did not respond.

Norm Eiting, 73, wants better job opportunities for college students at the Utah Valley State College extension center in Wasatch County, and he thinks that Heber needs to "maintain a small-town feel and rural atmosphere through well-planned growth." Eiting, a retired engineer, supports updating the city's general and master plans to help manage the growth.

Wayne Hardman, did not respond.

Elizabeth Hokanson, 34, wants a recreation center for Heber families so they are not "forced to travel and to spend money in other communities." Hokanson, a self-described homemaker, wants to lower the speed limit on Main Street so people are more inclined to stop at local businesses. She also thinks that Heber needs to update its master plan.

Robert L. Patterson did not respond.

Kieth Rawlings, 50, wants to make city government "more open through accessible, honest and accountable city officials." Rawlings, who owns a property management company, thinks that "through communication we can develop a better relationship with our business community."

John Rogers did not respond.

Paul F. Royall III, 39, thinks Heber can retain its high quality of life in part by building a two-part water system that reserves culinary water for indoor use. That, and "providing the tools that will allow citizens to feel welcomed, included and respected for their participation in all levels of government" are Royall's suggestions for "maintaining that small-town feel," said this general manager of a petroleum equipment company.

Mike Thurber, 59, said that projects residents want can't be funded with existing tax revenue. "Without commercial opportunity in the city, seniors and young families on limited incomes are most negatively impacted by rising property taxes to fund special projects." Thurber, a postmaster, wants Heber "to plan ahead for new areas for industry and other commercial growth and then actively pursue new business."