At the special meeting of the council on Monday Don Matthews was appointed to serve the remainder of the term for District Five on the County Council. The candidates were asked to introduce themselves and communicate their qualification. The council then asked the applicants a number of questions. Following is a summary of Matthews’ remarks and his answers to the questions.
Matthews is married to the former Cheri Bell of Morgan. He has been married for 34 years and has five children plus eight grandchildren. Matthews works for Alsco, a textile rental company. Matthews is the Corporate Accounts Manager for Alsco. In this role he manages the relationship with the company’s national accounts, contracts, and the budget associated with these services. He has also been a trainer for the organization in his current role.
Previously Matthews worked as General Manager for G&K services. In this position he had overall responsibility for the performance of this publicly traded company. His responsibilities included budgets, personnel management, sales and marketing, and customer service.
Matthews says, “If you were to ask my boss, he would tell you that I am a good listener, I don’t shoot from the hip, that I am a good multitasker, and that I meet my deadlines on time, if not before.”
Questions from Member Sunday:
1. How much do you travel? Will your travel interfere with your role on the council?
“What I have been doing is training the people I’ve hired to continue in their responsibilities. I now have a staff who is fully trained and can travel all the time. My travel will be cut back to a minimum. By attending County Council meetings on consecutive weeks I was trying to illustrate that I am very serious about the position. I am available to attend the meetings.”
2. What goals do you have for the county?
Matthews pointed toward financial issues’ importance. A second of his goals would be to see greater economic development. He would also like to see growth carefully managed to maintain the county’s good lifestyle. He believes there are synergies that could be built upon in a cooperative relationship with Morgan City.
3. What good things has the council done?
“I think the decision on the geotech was correct. Another good decision was the road bond. When you look at economic development, highways are key… I think the aquatic center decision was a good one”
Questions from Member Hansen:
1. When I was elected to the County Council as the portfolio assignments were made, I realized that some of the assignments have daytime meetings. You both work for employers. How flexible are your employers in allowing you to fulfill portfolio assignments?
Matthews indicated his employer is very supportive and that he has a flexible enough schedule to control the times he works. He expressed he will have the time to do what is necessary.
2. Do you come with any agenda?
Matthews communicated he has no specific agenda. He is looking to serve the citizens to the highest standard possible and hopes he can and represent them well.
Questions from Member Lundgren:
1. Historically Morgan was growing rapidly. That has come to a screeching halt. What is your attitude about future residential development in the county?
Matthews is in favor of traditional neighborhoods. He would like to see some affordable housing. He would also like to see developers provide parks and other recreational areas.
2. Morgan County budgets are very tight. What is your position on tax increases?
Matthews said, “I am not in favor of a tax increase. I think the council has done a good job in managing the budget.” Matthews further noted that if the economy does not improve the county will need to look for creative ways to find necessary funding. He would also like to see the county establish a rainy day fund.
Questions from Chairman Creager:
1. In the national sales budget for your company, what is the annual amount you manage?
Matthews stated the budget in his current role is approximately $500,000. In his previous job as General Manager, the budget he oversaw totaled around $15,000,000.
2. What do you think the county can do to assist the city in their long term objectives and vision?
Matthews has confidence that the talents of Garth Day could be a help to the city in their economic development activities. He also sees opportunity in the city leveraging the road equipment that was purchased. He would also like to see the county work with the city to attract the DATC.
Questions from Member Kelley
1. If you had to attend meetings in Salt Lake, Provo, and other localities, does your work schedule permit this?
Matthews currently commutes to Salt Lake daily. He confirmed that he could attend meetings in any of the required locations.
2. What other revenues does the county have besides property tax?
Matthews listed the other revenues as sales tax. He would like to see a shop Morgan County campaign to keep dollars in the county. He says he also has other ideas he would pursue if selected.
3. Can you give me one example of good economy growth we could promote and how we would attract it?
Matthews believes there are good possibilities in destination businesses like Browning, Taggarts, and others. He would like to see a hotel here in Morgan.
Questions from Member Haslam
1. What do you think about the position of the County Council administrator?
Matthews said, “I think it is a necessary position.” With the council being part-time, I think there are things this person does on a regular basis for the council that enhance the citizens of Morgan County… The administrator and staff positions are important in advising the council.”
2. How do you deal with the fact that there are citizens in the county, some who recently moved here, that want to eliminate development to preserve the lifestyle in the county?
Matthews talked about the Envision Morgan study and the priority residents placed on business growth and tourism. He does not think it is possible to lock out new development. He thinks that the county should find the right process to manage growth.
Matthews will be sworn in as soon as possible. He faces a steep learning curve as he joins mid-term. Matthews’ experience and knowledge will be a good addition to the council.