SPRINGDALE – The 2017 municipal general election in Zion National Park’s gateway community will pit an incumbent, Stan Smith, against a former town councilman, Mark Chambers, in the mayoral race.
Parking and infrastructure are all first and foremost on the candidates’ minds as the town moves into a more crowded future.
Each candidate was asked two questions, “What specific strengths would you bring to the office, if elected?” and “What are the main issues Springdale is facing and what would you do to address them, if elected?” Below are their responses.
One strength Chambers said he would bring to the office of mayor is over 35 years of nonprofit arts administration experience, including responsibility for the direction, administration, operation, and budgeting for the Sundance Film Festival, Utah Symphony and Opera, and ArtTix.
“I have a strong fiscal background tracking more than $15 million of ticket sales annually and managing budgets over $800,000 and supervising staffs of over 50,” Chambers said.
Chambers, who has lived in Springdale the last nine years and currently owns Under the Eaves Inn there, has already served on the Town Council for almost six years as well as on the Secondary Water Advisory Board and the Southwest Mosquito Abatement Board.
He was attracted to Springdale’s small, quaint village atmosphere, Chambers said, and wants to maintain that with “planned and thoughtful growth.”
“It is becoming more and more difficult to preserve our culture with the number of visitors we are receiving,” he said, noting that the town has many infrastructure challenges, including parking, roads, internet and water.
To Chambers, one of the keys moving forward will be better communication with the town and the citizens, better communication with the staff and council and better communication between the mayor and the council.
“We need a new focus in leadership that promotes communication, accessibility, transparency, accountability and collaboration,” he said. “My experience and expertise as a successful manager and director gives me the capacity to change the work culture with improved communication and collaboration.”
Chambers has a communication plan he would put in place, if elected.
“We need new methods and attitudes about talking with each other,” Chambers said. “As mayor, my goal will be to invite 10 different citizens each week to a two-hour roundtable. I believe the residents want to be involved and they want to be asked.”
Chambers believes this format will allow neighbors to get to know each other and learn about each others’ views and interests.
“I would then take that knowledge and engage them to help the town,” he said.
He would also plan to have a one-on-one meeting with each council member every month to keep them informed and “keep administrative information flowing.”
He also said he would keep up the good relationships that Smith has built with county commissioners as well as harness residents’ passion for their town.
“We need to take that passion, communicate, collaborate and put it into action,” Chambers said. “With all the changes and challenges we are facing, I believe my experience, integrity, communication and work ethic makes me the best candidate for mayor.”
Smith, who has served as mayor for the last four years, explained that going into office, he said he would work on building relationships with the county and others.
“I have done that and more,” he said. “The relationships that I have built with UDOT (Utah Department of Transporation), the state, the county and local leaders is strong. Through these relationships I have been able to bring to Springdale more than $10 million in new infrastructure money.”
His ability to reach out and make these relationships has proven very valuable to the town of Springdale, Smith said.
He sees parking and congestion as two of Springdale’s main current issues.
“I have worked on making transit a real possibility,” Smith said.
He’s labored to improve parking and congestion through parking lots and structures, he said, as well as a whole new redesign of state Route 9, which has helped in addressing the problems.
“Working with other governmental agencies, I have worked on plans for off-site parking centers, passing lanes up the canyon on SR-9 and other alternatives to ease the congestion.”
Another win during his first term as mayor is a new water treatment plant that, Smith said, is slated to be built to replace the current system that needs to be replaced.
He also feels the improvement of connectivity within the town has been a win.
“I have brought fiber optics into Springdale and am currently working on plans to provide fiber to all the residents of Springdale,” Smith said.
He has also helped solve problems as they have come up, Smith said, including curbside recycling, trash pickup in hard-to-reach neighborhoods and other issues that the town has faced.
“I have written a monthly letter to the residents in the town newsletter informing them of important issues or concerns,” he said. “I have implemented a monthly ‘brown bag’ get-together where the residents can ask me any questions and we can discuss the hot topics of the town.”
Smith said he’s put a lot of time and effort into being mayor – almost making it a full-time job, averaging 30 hours a week attending meetings and addressing issues.
“The next mayor will need to make a similar time commitment,” he said.
Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Town Council, including one incumbent, Adrian Player, and two others who haven’t held elected office before, Randy Aton and Rick Praetzel.
The town of Springdale is a vote-by-mail precinct. Ballots will drop in the mail Oct. 17. In order to be counted, ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 6. For more information on Springdale elections, visit the town’s website or contact Town Clerk Darci Carlson at telephone 435-772-3434.
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