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Meet The Candidate - Ned Mecham

Article Date: 
3 September, 2010 - 05:59

Ned Mecham is a candidate for the County Council at Large B Seat.  He is running against Jeremy Barker.  The entire county votes for the candidates running for the at large seats.  This is the seat currently held by Council Chairman Sid Creager.  
Mecham was born and raised in Morgan.  His roots are deep and his great grandfather settled the land on which he lives in the mid 1800’s.  His family has been here ever since.  
Mecham has been married for thirty-seven years.  He has five children and fifteen grandchildren.  Four of his children live in the county.
Mecham is a licensed contractor.  His business is primarily in remodeling and additions.  His business has been built on referrals, he says, and comments that sometimes a job caulking a window can lead to a remodeling job once they have experience with him.
Below are the answers to questions that will be posed to each of the candidates interviewed who are running for county council seats:
1.  Why are you running for county council?
“The main reason I am running for county council …[is that] I possess some assets I think will be very beneficial to the county.  [I have] always been involved in agriculture. I own quite a bit of water.  I understand the importance of water rights… I understand the importance of water quality…  As a landowner, I understand the importance of property rights.  I think [that through] my involvement in agriculture and being a contractor I understand construction and the development side, which I think would be very beneficial assets for the county.”
2. What would you like to accomplish, if elected?
Mecham indicated that he would like to see the county be fiscally sound.  He thinks that the county needs to spend within its means, and needs to put some money away for savings.  He believes that “If you are going to take a dollar out of someone’s pocket in taxes, you better make sure they are getting a dollar in services or something for that dollar.”
3. What do you think are the major issues facing the county?
Mecham sees the major issues developing because of growth.  He believes the county will see growth again in the future.  He sees some of these issues as:
“Our water rights, with water usage.  I have some real concerns with all of the sewage as far as maintaining water quality.  The real rapid growth will cause the problems that will hurt our county.  Also, the rapid growth puts a burden on our county expenditures.”
Do you have some ideas on how to address this issue?
Mecham wants to get county residents involved in helping to form the decisions that will shape the future of the county.  He would like to see the council work with residents to shape the future and help form policies to manage and govern growth.
4. What changes would you like to see in the county?
“I think our current county council has done an excellent job and I commend them for their service to the county.  I would like to continue, if I am elected, the great efforts that they have put forth in the county.  As far as changes in the county, I think Morgan is pretty awesome.”
Mecham believes that while people may move here for the air quality and the rural lifestyle, they stay because of the wonderful people in the county.
5. What is your opinion on the county attempting to bring new businesses into the county?  
Mecham hopes that county residents will support the existing businesses.  He expressed that the key to more businesses and more successful businesses in the county is support from the residents to shop here rather than businesses outside the county.  
Mecham also would like to see the county find some niche businesses that would differentiate the county and make it easier to compete with some of the larger cities and counties who can sometimes offer more incentives than Morgan County is able to do.
6. How do you feel about the growth in the county?
“ I think, first of all, to manage or control the growth;  growth, first of all, has to pay for itself 100%.  It can’t be any burden to the county or the taxpayers.  Growth has got to totally finance itself.”
Mecham reiterated that it is important for the residents of Morgan to be more involved in the decisions about the future of the county and its growth.
7. How do you feel about the quality of life in the county? What would you propose to enhance it?
“I love living here… I think the biggest attribute Morgan has is that we are very close to the city, yet we have a real rural atmosphere…It’s quiet. It’s very calm here.”
8. Morgan County Revenues have declined in the past few years.  Do you think the county budgets are too generous and need to be trimmed?
Mecham expressed the belief that whether you are a family, a company, or a government that you need to live within your means.  He further commented that each dollar that is taken in taxes is one less dollar that families have to spend on what they would choose.  He said that he would rather see more money remain in residents’ pockets and that if more trimming of the budget is necessary to keep the county spending within its means then that is what ought to be done.
9. Morgan County is non-partisan.  Should it continue this way or change to a partisan system?
Mecham expressed that he believes the non-partisan approach in the county is correct.
10. How do you picture Morgan County in five years from now and twenty years from now?
“I really hope five, ten, twenty years from now that everyone that lives here still loves living here in Morgan County.  Whatever the changes are I hope that the residents of Morgan County are involved…and everyone still loves the quality of life here.  That would be my goal.”
11. Recently the County participated in Envision Morgan and other public input planning meetings.  Some respondents favored clustering development into specific areas with the remaining spaces undeveloped.  What is your vision for future development of the County?
Mecham sees some advantages in the clustered development.  He believes that it helps to maintain the open spaces in the county that are important to the quality of life.  He sees some challenges with the clustering since it will require water and sewer systems to support the cluster of development.
He also, however, comments that he loves where he lives and the open spaces around him.  He speaks with conviction of the farming he is able to do and how much he enjoys that part of his life.  He sees the agriculture in the county as a key to maintaining the surroundings and quality of life that makes the county such good place to live.
12. Where do you stand on the issue of a Special Service District?
Mecham sees special service districts as an appropriate approach for essential services such as water and power, but does not believe that a special service district for parks and recreation is the right solution.
13. Where do you stand on the Aquatic Center?
Mecham observes that areas that have aquatic centers have a much larger population to draw on and the Morgan lacks sufficient population to support an aquatic center.
14.  Is the Morgan School District giving children the quality of education they should have?
Mecham believes that the school district is one of the best in the state.  He recognizes the quality of the school district, but also believes the quality comes from parents in the county who value education and instill these principles in their children.
15. In the past citizens have often only become involved after a decision is made by the council.  What would you do to get people involved sooner?
Mecham hopes that citizens will become more involved, but believes that council members have the responsibility to reach out to their constituents and understand where they stand on issues.  If the citizens are not getting involved then the council member should make an effort to gather opinions so that the decisions made by the council are reflective of the desires of the voters.
16. What do you see as positive actions the Morgan County government has taken?
“I think one thing the county has done very well, I know they have had a decrease in revenue every year and the county is staying in the revenue.  I think the county council has done an outstanding job with the revenue to make sure that we are not going in the hole.  They have not raised taxes.  
They all are very accessible…each of the county council has been outstanding to return your calls or if you have a concern or issue they have all been very approachable.  I think that is excellent.”
17. Knowing the diversity of issues faced by the council from legal issues to land management to personnel, public works, economic development, etc.  What skills do you bring to help the county with these issues?
See question 1.  Mecham also believes that his experience as a business owner and employer have prepared him for a variety of issues in addition to his experience in construction, and agriculture.   
18. How would you vote if the majority of the constituents in your district favored one decision, but you personally favored a different decision?
Mecham would work to ensure that his constituents understood the issue fully, but if he believed there was good understanding he would vote with the will of the majority of his constituents.
19.  What is your position on the Road Bond (should the council have passed this bond)?
While Mecham recognizes the needs for the county to maintain the roads he would have voted against the road bond.  He is uncomfortable with the county taking on additional debt at this time.
20. Do you have time to serve in this role?
As a small business owner Mecham says he has the flexibility to work the hours needed.  He also expresses the commitment to spend the time to do the job well.
Mecham closed with the request for voters to give him their support.  He expressed his desire to serve the county that he loves.  He said that he would work to do the work that needs to be done to maintain the county as the great place it is today.