SANTA CLARA — If it wasn’t for the obligation he feels for the people of Santa Clara, the city’s mayor says he would be off fishing.
Rick Rosenberg has been mayor of Santa Clara since January 2007. In that time, there have been four U.S. presidents, and some of those who were then in Kindergarten at Santa Clara Elementary are well into college at this point. Now, for the fifth time, he is running unopposed for reelection. Is that a sign that Santa Clara residents are happy with the job Rosenberg has done as the city’s leader?
“Well, it’s either that or no one wants the job,” Rosenberg joked to St. George News. “I’ve always said if somebody else wants to step forward and take the job, and if I think they could do a good job, I’d probably go fishing more. But I enjoy the job. People say I’m crazy for that, but I enjoy being mayor. ”
Rosenberg, 64, is the founder of the engineering firm Rosenberg Associates and has engineered 26 years in city government that started with six years on the Planning Commission, followed by five years as a council member and his time as mayor. Known for his preference for rugged wear rather than suits and ties, the Utah State graduate has lent his engineering expertise over the years toward dealing with past flooding in the city.
St. George News spoke with Rosenberg on the issues facing Santa Clara and why voters should trust him with the reins of the city. The following responses are in Rosenberg’s own words, lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
Why do you think you’re the right candidate for the job?
Probably the track record that we’ve put together since I’ve been in the office as mayor. I think we’ve done a pretty good job to serve the citizens. We’ve dealt with adversity, the flooding disasters that have hit the city. We’ve negotiated land development.
Our commercial basis expanded during that period. Facilities have expanded and the experience of working with Santa Clara City is has changed and improved. And we want to keep that going.
What are the most pressing issues you hope to address?
Santa Clara has some of the same issues as our sister communities. Water development in the long-term or conservation plan will be a big item in the next term. Developing a secondary water system to provide some outdoor irrigation use and being able to expand that will be important.
Being able to develop some diversity in our housing portfolio to where we may even be able to get an affordable housing product out in Santa Clara (is also important). We’ve always had relatively high property values out there and it puts some additional pressure on public service workers.
Those are all problems that the other communities are facing as well. We’re not unique to that by any means, but we’re not immune from it either.
How serious is the drought and what do you hope to do as a city leader to deal with it? Should this affect the approval of new developments?
When you look at the reservoir levels that provide the culinary water for all the communities and the dropping levels, it’s a very serious thing. But the chance there may not be a Lake Powell pipeline puts more pressure on all the communities to better utilize the existing resources that they have.
Thankful to some wise forefathers that developed a lot of water resources for the city years ago and our wells in Snow Canyon and the water rights that we currently own are helping a lot.
We’re all gonna make a strong effort to make the best of what water we have left and to try and convert our existing surface water into potentially secondary irrigation water. You’ll definitely see at some point time ordinances come in that will limit the amount of new growth and new development out there. Santa Clara doesn’t have a huge worry that way in the fact that our geographic boundary is limited.
Santa Clara is known for its shady streets and hometown feel. How can that be maintained through to the future?
Our subdivision development standards encourage the treelined streets. You’ll see some of that continued development. I’m trying to preserve the neighborhoods and the kind of neighborhood feel that the city has. The biggest impact to that right now is probably the traffic on the Drive, the street that makes the city famous with the large sycamores.
That’s not just from here. We were impacted by development to the west and new development in eastern St. George. So there’s pressure on, on some of those traffic calming devices, and we’re working with the county and the sister cities and the regional transportation organization to get the Western Corridor in place, which would provide another route.
Our local hospital is still unprecedentedly full with COVID-19 patients. Local government has had a hands-off philosophy as far as public health requirements are concerned. Is that working?
Santa Clara’s always tried to implement the recommendations from the Southwest district health department and the professionals there. If we would have (had) COVID hit our staff, they could take our entire power department offline. So we did a lot of things to protect the city staff and not only in the building but out in the field.
We encourage people to get vaccinated. I don’t feel like that’s a city mandate or that we would have the ability to implement a mandate, but we do encourage people to follow the guidelines and to get vaccinated. And for everybody to take care of themselves and their families. That should be the number one thing for all of us is to make sure we take care of ourselves and take care of our families and do the steps necessary to protect them. That’s probably what we’ll continue to do. I think our council believes that’s the best approach, and I think that’ll continue.
You’ve been mayor since January 2007. We hear people get skeptical about political l leaders who are in positions too long. Why should people trust you? How long do you see staying as mayor?
It’s one term at a time. I plan on retiring probably sometime during this term from my day job. And I think that’ll trigger the time to move on from the mayor’s job.
But you know, every year when it comes time … for the election to come up, I have a multitude of people come to me and approach me and ask me if I would continue to serve.
I kind of evaluate that, and family has been very supportive. I enjoy what I do. And I think I’ve made a difference out there and been able to learn, to put some good policies and some good decision-making in place. And as long as I can continue the job and the people will have me, I’ll probably do it, but it’s one term at a time.
Like I say, when I see another candidate sign up, and I think that guy can do a great job, then I’m going to get the fly rod out, and we’re going to spend more time on the water.
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