Economic growth, planning common themes among Washington City Council candidates

Washington City Offices, Washington City, Utah, June 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – Continuing to build the city’s economic base, city planning and keeping the citizenry apprised of what city government is doing are among the items focused on by candidates vying for a spot on the Washington City Council this election.

Three seats are up for grabs this year, with only one incumbent seeking to retain his seat for another term. Councilmen Kress Staheli and Ron Truman announced they wouldn’t be seeking re-election, while two-term incumbent Jeff Turek hopes to solidify a bid for a third term.

Along with Turek, five others are seeking to sit on the council. They are: Troy Belliston, Kolene Granger, Jean Arbuckle, Brad Allen and Bill Hudson.

St. George News caught up with the candidates to ask them what a primary goal of theirs would be while serving in office, and also how they still might achieve that goal if not elected. We also asked the candidates to share something about themselves with us that people may not know about them.

Jeff Turek, submitted photo
Jeff Turek, submitted photo

“My No. 1 goal would be that we’d bring in good, quality businesses that would add to our quality of life as well as our tax base,” incumbent Jeff Turek said.

If not elected, Turek said he would make sure to always talk positively about the community and talk up Washington City as a place people and businesses would like to relocate to.

As a boy, Turek said he would ride his bike out to Washington Fields with others – when it was still primarily fields and unpaved roads – and milk cows after school at a short-lived dairy in the area. 

Troy Belliston also wants to improve the city’s economic base in order to create jobs and opportunities for Washington City’s residents.

“One specific way that we can broaden our base in short order is to aggressively pursue the events/tourism industry,” Belliston said. “It is estimated that $450 million of outside revenue is brought into Washington County each and every year and yet in Washington City we only have two hotels and limited service-related businesses within our boundaries that can capture that revenue.”

Troy Belliston, submitted photo
Troy Belliston, submitted photo

Belliston said this could be done while also protecting the “hometown” way of life people have become accustomed to through proper city planning.

As someone who works in the construction industry, Bellistion said, he is always looking for ways to bring values to that process. Elected or not, he said, that won’t change his efforts in finding ways to add value to Washington City.

I’ve been a mechanic since I was a teenager,” Belliston said. “In fact, at 19 I went into the military to become an aircraft mechanic.  I love working with my hands and seeing how the pieces and parts of things fit together.”

On a matter of planning for the city’s future, Brad Allen said his goal would be to create a five-year strategic plan for the city.

“My greatest concern is properly managing the growth that we will experience; and,” he said, “having a positive commercial and business climate that fosters growth that will meet the needs of the citizens and provide increased revenues for the tax base.”

Brad Allen, submitted photo
Brad Allen, submitted photo

Having this plan in place could help protect current homeowners as well as preserve the city’s open spaces, Allen said.

“If not elected I would like to take an active role in the development of our strategic plan and would want other talented citizens to participate as well,” he said.

“I am happily married to my wife, Dantzelle, for 40 years and we are the parents of eight children and 18 grandchildren,” Allen said. “We enjoy serving others and love living in Washington.”

Jean Arbuckle said the she would work to upgrade the quality of life for the people of Washington City. To this end, her primary goal is to get the City Council to plan out basic improvements to city infrastructure.

“Traffic congestion and public notifications are a top priority,” Arbuckle said.

If the election doesn’t favor Arbuckle, she said she will nonetheless continue to be involved in citizen committees related to traffic and recreation improvements.

Jean Arbuckle, submitted photo
Jean Arbuckle, submitted photo

Public notifications have been an issue for some residents who feel the city doesn’t do enough to let them know about incoming development nearby.

“I love growing flowers, pulling weeds and all kinds of yard work,” Arbuckle said, adding she and her husband also like to play golf.

When a pending zone change requires a public hearing, state law dictates that property owners within 300 feet (100 yards) of the site to be potentially rezoned be notified of the public hearing. Property owners living beyond that 300-foot zone are not sent those notifications, and this has been an issue brought up in past City Council meetings.

“The notification ordinance should require that notification of zoning changes reach a certain number of homes, not be limited to those within 100 yards of proposed change,” candidate Kolene Granger said. “Changes affect lifestyles and home values. Those affected should be notified.”

Kolene Granger, submitted photo
Kolene Granger, submitted photo

Improving the city’s notification methods is a part of Granger’s primary goal that includes creating zoning regulations that would create a standard for what incoming developments should feature and include.

If not elected, Granger said she would serve on a citizen board that would create a voice for encouraging changes that will strengthen the community.

“I hike at least one day a week,” Granger said. Some of her favorite hikes include The Wave, Havasupai, Yant Falls, Camelback, Kanarraville Falls, and many others.

“Creatively, I enjoy carving gourds, painting in acrylics and oils, making mosaics and writing,” she said.

Bill Hudson, a former member of the Washington City Council, also said the city could do a better job of keeping its residents informed.

“Our citizens feel uninformed and blindsided by pressing issues happening in their neighborhoods,” he said.

Bill Hudson, submitted photo
Bill Hudson, submitted photo

“My goal is to get Washington City managers and leaders refocused on doing things the way our residents expect them to be,” Hudson said. “I believe that effective city government is both a) responsive to our citizen’s needs and, b) should work diligently to provide necessary services in an economical and uncomplicated manner.”

If Hudson does not return to the City Council after the election, he plans to create a community action group aimed at keeping the citizenry up to date about what is happening in their city.

“My wife and I both graduated from high school in Mesquite, Nevada,” Hudson said. “We met when we were both cast for the lead roles in the musical ‘The Sound of Music.’ Soon enough, while working on the musical, we began dating and ultimately got married and moved to the ‘big’ city to raise our family.”

Election Day is Nov. 3.

Resources – candidate campaign sites

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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