Springdale Town Council candidates speak about housing, business at public forum

SPRINGDALE — Springdale Town Council candidates were asked about their vision for the town at a “Meet the Candidates” event Tuesday evening. 

The forum was hosted at the Canyon Community Center, during which the candidates were asked five questions about what they would do for the town in preparation for Springdale’s primary elections in August.

This year’s candidates include Lisa Zumpft, who currently serves on the council, Tyler Young, Stewart Ferber, Suzanne Elger and Rick Praetzel. Hunter Lombardi, who teaches social studies and politics at Valley Academy Charter School in Hurricane, served as the moderator.

Questions were submitted by Springdale residents prior to the meeting, and five were chosen based on popularity and relevance.

Question No. 1

The first question asked the candidates about their vision for Springdale and how they plan to represent all generations and their concerns in that vision. 

Both Zumpft and Elger brought up the issue of housing for those who want to live and work in Springdale. Zumpft also mentioned bringing in affordable housing, particularly for the senior community. 

“One of the things that I’m very concerned about and want to make sure we continue to work on is finding a way for people who want to live here and work here to be able to have someplace to live,” Zumpft said. 

Elger and Young said that they want to bring more businesses to Springdale for locals instead of tourists. Elger said such business could act as gathering places that could create a social setting. 

Ferber expressed concern for developments abusing the town rules and building outside of code, while Praetzel had concerns about the town’s parking situation.

Question No. 2

The next question asked candidates whether they have any ideas for innovative projects that could enhance life in Springdale. 

L-R: Stewart Ferber, Tyler Young, Suzanne Elger, Lisa Zumpft and Rick Praetzel answer questions during a “Meet the Candidates Night” in Springdale, Utah, July 9, 2019 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Young said he would like to use the town’s funds to help preserve the green spaces in the area and to bring in more things to do to keep younger families in town. Praetzel spoke about preserving the relationship with Zion National Park.

Ferber said that he wants to do away with paid parking altogether. 

“Everyone talks about affordable housing — we don’t have affordable parking,” he said. “Everyone talks about gathering. Where do you park when you go visit a friend now? You can’t.”

Both Elger and Zumpft said that they would like to work to bring high speed internet to town. Elger also spoke about focusing on town beautification, while Zumpft said she would like to place a higher value on resident happiness and work on creating more river access in town.

Question No. 3

The third question asked what the candidates see as the biggest challenge Springdale either currently faces, or will face, and how do they plan to address it. 

Once again, the issue of housing was a common theme among the candidate’s answers. 

Springdale residents listen during a “Meet the Candidates Night” in Springdale, Utah, July 9, 2019 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Ferber’s solution to the lack of housing would be to make visiting the town more affordable, since there isn’t enough space or housing for everyone who wants to live there to do so. Praetzel suggested providing more staff housing so that those who work in Springdale don’t have to commute for hours a day to get to work. 

Elger agreed that the issue of housing is a difficult one to solve but said that the town’s zoning and rules of density would be the best way to manage how they go about providing housing.

Zumpft’s main housing concern had to do with many of the town’s residential homes being turned into short-term vacation rentals.

Young said Springdale’s housing prices are so high that it is no longer an affordable place for young families to live.

“If Springdale does not find a way to encourage families to move into this town and raise their children here, we won’t have enough people in this town 50 years from now to have a community. Only people moving in and out for business. That would devastate me,” Young said. “We need to start talking about how to make sure that we have plenty of people moving in and starting their lives and raising families in this community.”

Question No. 4

The fourth question created a hypothetical situation asking the candidates if they and some of their neighbors had been negatively affected by a certain issue, which didn’t necessarily have a widespread effect on the rest of town, whether they would pass an ordinance revision as a way to resolve the issue.

Praetzel, Young and Ferber each gave a decided “no” to the question, saying that they would never use their position of power to benefit themselves. 

Zumpft and Elger, however, said that they would be open to doing so if after discussing it with others, they found that the issue affected more people in town than just their neighborhood.

Question No. 5 

The fifth question asked the candidates what they feel their responsibilities would be as an elected representative of the community. 

Zumpft and Elger both expressed a desire to hear many different perspectives before making decisions that are best for the town. 

“I want to come up with the best possible solutions for the problems that face us,” Elger said. “And the best way to do that is to collaborate with people, to talk to people, to look at the past history, to look at the best solutions going forward.” 

Moderator Hunter Lombardi, Deputy Town Clerk Katy Brown and Town Clerk Darci Carlson ask the candidates questions during a “Meet the Candidates Night” in Springdale, Utah, July 9, 2019 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Young said that he feels his responsibility would be to hear every concern from anyone who brings them, no matter how small. Ferber said that his responsibility is to tell the truth about what he is doing and be honest with the people of Springdale. Praetzel said that part of being a good councilmember is to be a good listener.

Finally, the candidates were asked to describe themselves and what they most value most about the community to help those in attendance understand what kind of leader they would be.

Young said that he most values open mindedness and honesty as a leader and is willing to hear other ideas and change his when necessary. Zumpft echoed this by saying that she is always willing to listen to the opinions of others which allows her to learn new things and make better decisions.

Ferber said that he would lead the town like he leads his business, by leading by example. 

Elger and Praetzel said that they view being on town council less as a leadership position and more as a teamwork position working to do what’s best for Springdale. 

Ballots for the primary election will be mailed to Springdale voters July 23. Voters will have the opportunity to vote for two of the five candidates, and the top four will then proceed to general elections. Ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 12 in order to be counted. 

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Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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