HURRICANE – The hot topics at the Hurricane City Council meeting Thursday night were national and state politics as well as off-premise advertising.
The council approved a resolution encouraging voters to support the caucus format of electing primary candidates for national, state and county offices. Without caucuses, Hurricane Mayor Tom Hirschi said, only rich people could be politicians. State Republican Party Vice Chairman Willie Billings, a Hurricane native who was in attendance to inform the council and attendees about the advantages of caucuses, concurred with Hirschi and said that the people with a lot of money realize that with grass roots movements like caucuses, a lot of money doesn’t make as much of a difference in politics.
Gov. Gary Herbert and Sen. Mike Lee, Billings said, would not have been able to afford to run for office without the caucus system. Another advantage of the caucus system, he said, is it requires candidates to travel the state and answer tough questions from the state’s citizens whereas, without a caucus, residents would just hear about candidates in television ads, minimizing the chances of truly vetting a candidate.
City Councilman and Mayor-elect John Bramall invoked U.S. history while discussing caucuses, saying that during America’s Gilded Age, the late 19th century, wealthy monopoly-holders such as the Rockefellers and J.P. Morgan were able to control elections and the caucus system got around that. Now Utah’s wealthy are trying to get around that with the “Count My Vote” campaign, Billings said.
“Count My Vote really means buy your vote,” Billings said after explaining that citizens should not sign any Count My Vote petitions.
“Every vote counts in the caucus system,” Bramall said.
One of the next agenda items was to discuss the council’s opinion of off-premise advertising, which would allow businesses in town to advertise in locations other than their places of business. The city discussed it due to Interstate Rock’s request to advertise on property it owns near its main office. City Attorney Fay Reber said the planning commision can make the decision on it and that it needs to define off-premise, whether it means contiguous property owned by the same entity, as in Interstate Rock’s case, or means something more broad.
Questions arose about the Durango’s sign near the new Swig location, which Councilman Darin Thomas said had been grandfathered in.
The city has been accused of not being business friendly, Thomas said, and that he would like to see the city be more amenable to businesses.
“Let’s take a look at it and see what we can do,” Thomas said of the advertising consideration, which is just what the council voted to do.
One city resident, Kenneth Lee Pugh, spoke to the council about his concerns over the improvement and widening of 600 North between 120 East and 1375 East, saying he does not think there will be enough clearance between his front door and the road and that he fears semitrailers will traverse the road after improvements are finished.
City Engineer Arthur LeBaron tried to allay Pugh’s fears.
“My office is always open,” LeBaron said. “We can talk about details.”
Pugh said he would welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk because he has three pages of questions.
The improvement of 600 North will make the street 60-feet wide and include a planter strip in the middle. It will displace a few residents in what Hirschi called a “friendly condemnation.”
In other business, the council approved the dedication of two roads: Park View Drive, which runs from Fire Station 2 on 3400 West to 3700 West; and Old Y Road, near the Gateway Commercial Center. The city will now take ownership of the roads, which were formerly private property.
No-kill animal shelter
At the beginning of the meeting, Best Friends Animal Society Media Relations Manager Barbara Williamson presented Hurricane City Animal Control with a certificate for achieving no-kill shelter status, meaning 90 percent or more of the animals that enter the city’s animal shelter come out alive.
“I can’t believe all the animals we have,” Hirschi said after the presentation. “We have more animal problems than people problems.”
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