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Meet the Candidates 2012

Article Date: 
19 October, 2012 (All day)

County Council District #3 - Robert Kilmer
1.  You are involved in an unopposed race.  What do you think of running unopposed?
I would always prefer that the people have a choice when it comes to electing our government leaders.
2.  What is the biggest issue facing the county and the county council?
Economic development. The county must work to develop a means for a tax base in order to continue to offer the services currently offered without assessing debilitating taxes on the citizens.
3.  How do you plan on handling that issue?
Economic development is a complex problem that requires the work of many different groups. The council will need to work with the city council, school board, local business leaders, chamber of commerce and others to create a climate for economic growth.
4.  Why did you decide to run in this election?
I was asked to run again by constituents and accepted the challenge.
5.  What qualifies you to serve on the county council?
I have a great love for this county, its people, and the way of life they have created here. I want to work to continue this way of life while properly managing the county’s inevitable growth.
6.  How long have you lived in the county?
I moved to Morgan in 1995.
7.  What previous political experience have you had?
The last two years on the council is my only elected political experience.
8.  Biographical information:ccI work for Morgan County School District. I am married with three children, a son-in-law and one granddaughter.
 
 
School Board District #1 - Jody Hipwell
 
 
1     What is the biggest issue facing the county and the school board?
We face a number of issues this upcoming year, the first being state funding. Will they fully fund education this year or are we going to continue to see cuts? Over the past five years our state funding has decreased over $1 million. We also have uncollected taxes of $564,000. People ask, “Why don’t we collect the taxes that are past due?” But individuals have five years before the county can begin the collection process. There is little we can do to recoup this money at this time.  Transportation funding has continued to decrease along with Social Security and Retirement. We have all felt the burden of increased insurance costs and the district is no exception.
The second issue is class size.  We continue to see student growth continue to rise in the county. We have 114 new students so far this year and we continue to make cuts. I am concerned if we can’t get full funding for student growth from the state, we will continue to see class sizes increase. I serve as a delegate for the Utah School Board Association and our No. 1 focus this year with the legislature is that student growth must be fully funded. I plan on attending meetings on the Hill to help push this through while congress is in session.
Transportation is another concern.  We have gone from 82 percent funding to 45 percent funding over the past few years. This has a big impact on rural districts like ours versus districts like Ogden City. We were fortunate to have a special needs bus donated by UTA this year, but we have not purchased a new school bus for two years. Our fleet is getting older and repair costs continue to climb.
These are just a few of the issues I see us facing in the upcoming year.
One of the things I want to make clear is concerning the Trojan Century Center.  When I came on the board in August of 2011, the Trojan Center had already been voted on and construction had began.  As a citizen I was not in favor of the Century Center. I knew there were limitations on what the money could be used for, but I didn’t think a sports facility was the best choice considering the condition of the high school. I was in favor of the bus garage.  We now have the Century Center and it is a cost that we have to bear.  It is used by the students daily and the two classrooms are used each class hour. We need to make sure that all students and the citizens of
Morgan County have the opportunity to use this new facility.
2     How do you plan on handling that issue?
I will work on solving these issues by attending my USBA delegate sessions and working with them to continue stressing the importance of fully funding education and growth.
We will more than likely be looking at further cuts next year.  Hopefully with the help of the state funding, they will be minimal.
We also need to look at adding to our rainy day fund as much as possible.  The monies from the tax increase are designated specifically for that fund.
3     Why did you decide to run in this election?
I decided to run for this position to help maintain the quality and well rounded education our children are now receiving. My children have been fortunate to attend (two currently in the high school and two graduates now attending college) and receive the well rounded education they have in the Morgan school system.
I have been involved in all aspects of my children’s education since they began school over 20 years ago. When we moved to Morgan, I immediately began volunteering and one thing has led to another.  Running for this position seemed to be the next step.  I am honored to serve the students and parents of Morgan County and I take my responsibilities in this position very seriously.
4     What qualifies me to serve on the school board?
I received my BS degree in business administration from USU.  I have worked in the areas of accounts payable, human resources and payroll, until beginning our family.  Since becoming a mom I have ALWAYS been involved in my children’s education. Some of the committees I have been involved with include:  PTA, PTSO, Community Council, MHS Scholarship Board, Morgan Education Foundation, Senior Football Mom, Classroom Volunteer and Substitute Teacher.
I also serve on the DATC Board of Directors and recently had the honor of emceeing their fall graduation ceremony.  I have been involved in education the last 20 years in one form or another, which has given me a great deal of experience in many aspects of education.
5     How long have you lived in the county?
My family and I moved to Morgan County 11 years ago. We spent 17 years living in the Southern US. My children attended schools in Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. I was actively involved at my children’s schools in all of the states we have lived. I have four children. Jordan and Taylor are graduates of Morgan High and are attending college at this time. Ethan is a senior and Chandler is a sophomore. My husband Carl and I attended Weber County Schools and grew up in the Ogden area.
6     What previous political experience have you had?
I have served on the Morgan County School Board for the past year. I filled the seat vacated by the passing of Dr. Earl Erickson. This was the first time I sought a political office. I am currently serving as a delegate for the Utah School Board Association and as member of the DATC Board of Directors.
7     Biographical information
I have a great working relationship with the teachers, staff and administrators of this district. I try to be involved with all of the schools as much as possible.  Attending community council meetings helps me know what is going on in the four schools in our district. I have a great deal of respect for our teachers, staff and administrators who give so much time and effort to see that our children have a well rounded and quality education.
Serving on the MHS Scholarship Board, being a substitute teacher, classroom volunteer and a football mom has given me the opportunity to get to know many of the students in our schools. Nothing makes me happier when I am in one of the schools and the students say “Hi,” or come up and start talking to about what’s going on in their life.  I love the students, teachers, staff and administrators of this district and look forward to having the opportunity to serve the next four years.
 
 
School Board District #1 - Lydia Nuttall
 
 
1 What is the biggest issue facing the county and school board?
Our biggest challenge is a growing district with increased financial responsibilities and shrinking state/local funds.
2) How do you plan on handling that issue?
It is important to me that District #1 community members are informed of all relevant facts and numbers pertaining to our school district.  I started the Morgan Community Network email over a year ago as a way to pass on to interested parents and grandparents the information that I learn at our local and state board of education meetings, and to receive feedback/suggestions/solutions.  It has been an effective way for me to keep connected with our community.  (Email me at lydiacnuttall@gmail.com if you would like to receive this monthly email).   It will then be my responsibility to communicate to the other board members the information I receive from members of District #1.
3) Why did you decide to run in this election?
Two reasons:
First, I am the only person in this school district who attends the monthly state board of education meetings (for one and a half years) and I do so as “Mom from Mountain Green, Morgan School District” – that’s how the state board members know me.  I attend as an interested mother and represent (to them) a parental “voice” in our Utah public education system.  If elected as a member of our local board of education, I would also be able to represent the interests and concerns of the Morgan County School District.  To me, that’s a huge voice that our little county of Morgan would have at a state level on a regular basis.  I am also the only parent who voluntarily attends our monthly local board of education meetings (for four years).
Second, from my vantage point, I see an alarming trend:  Teachers trust principals > principals trust the superintendent and local school board > the local school board trusts the superintendent and principals > the superintendent trusts the state school board > the state school board trusts the teachers and local education administration > and parents trust all entities above!
There’s nothing wrong with trusting good men and women in our public education system unless everyone is trusting the “next guy up.”  I recognize the fact that I am different because I do my own homework after I listen to everyone else.  However, I believe that because I see things differently, I can make the most difference in a positive direction for our school district.
4)                  What qualifies you to serve on the school board?
I have taken to heart the following words inscribed on a piece of the fallen Berlin Wall:  “Many small people, in many small places, doing many small things can change the face of the world.”   I am only one person living in the small place of Mountain Green, Utah, doing small things over the years such as being devoted to attending both local and state boards of education monthly meetings.  Sometimes I have addressed both boards publicly (knees knocking) and shared my perspective as a parent and have wondered later, “Am I even making a difference?  Did anyone even hear me?”
Looking back I realize that, yes!  As small as I sometimes feel in this huge arena of our public education system, I have already been making a difference as I have received support from our local board for some of my unique solutions to our common concerns:  Parent Drug Awareness neighborhood meetings, for example, as well as helping to facilitate and strengthen the organization of Morgan Empowered.  I have also received support from our State Board for the Forgotten American Stories that I have been researching and writing every month and that the City of Morgan has been sponsoring throughout 2012. These stories help foster in our youth a greater appreciation for our country and help strengthen our youth and families through emphasizing positive character attributes of real American heroes. (View the “Forgotten American Stories on-line at www.morgancityut.com.)
In addition, I do tons of research (I have binders of it) on certain issues I learn about at the state and local level.  Whenever I get an uneasy feeling as a mother regarding a certain issue or topic or possible solution to a concern, I research both sides of the topic to conclude “Where do I stand on this issue?  What do I believe is best for my children?”  While I respect men and women in high places in our public education system, I have learned for myself that ultimately my husband and I are responsible for the education of our children and that “the role of state and local governments is to support and assist parents in fulfilling that responsibility” (Utah Code 53A-13-109)/
5) How long have you lived in the county?
Nine years.
6)  What previous political experience have you had?
I have served in elected public positions within our community such as Morgan Empowered parent representative and secretary elect, MMS PTSO president elect, MHS treasurer elect, and as MGES Community Council board member elect.  I attend the monthly PTSO meetings at MGES and Community Council meetings at MHS although I am not in an elected position. 
7) Biographical information
My husband, Kent, and I have a daughter (his) who is married, a son (mine) who is a junior at MHS and a daughter (ours) in 2nd grade at MGES.  I graduated valedictorian from high school, served an LDS mission in Toronto, Canada, and taught at the Missionary Training Center until I graduated from BYU with a BA in interior design.
My dad was in the Army, so I attended schools all over America and a German school when we lived in Germany.  We toured all over Europe and America, which is one of the reasons why I appreciate our country so much; I saw and felt in my youth a definite difference between other countries and my own.
8) Anything else to add…
VOTE!  Did you know that Utah ranked the third lowest state in voter participation in the 2008 election?  We owe it to our youth to show them by example that we value our freedom to vote.
 
 
School Board District #5 - Neil Carrigan
 
Incumbent Neil Carrigan didn’t intend on filing for another term on the Morgan County School Board.  However, as the deadline approached and no one else was showing interest in the position, he knew he had to throw his hat in the ring for another four years.
He said the biggest issue facing the school board right now is money.  Because facilities are aging—particularly the wing of the high school built in 1966—Carrigan knows a bond issue is on the horizon.  He would like to see such issues on the ballot rather than handling it as a school board.
“People need a chance to vote,” he said.  “There needs to be a choice.  I would rather have the public decide than five people on the board.”
Rising school enrollment, to the tune of 100 more students in the district this year, is compounding the problem.
Carrigan served on the Morgan City Council for 12 years before being elected to the school board four years ago.  A Morgan High School graduate, he has lived in Morgan County his whole life, spending 39 years as an educator.  He has raised seven children with his wife, who is also an educator.
 
 
County Council At Large - R. Logan Wilde
 
 
For several years I have wanted to run for office in Morgan County, but, because of other obligations I never could.   This year felt like it was the right opportunity for me.  I see great potential within Morgan County, and I believe that in the next couple of years Morgan’s potential will become evident.  I also see that Morgan has become a haven for friendly people, clean air, a healthy environment, and a great atmosphere for work and recreation.  I believe in a responsible government, principles of conservation and fiscal moderation.  
There are many issues that are facing Morgan County, the biggest being: how do we accomplish more; pay for the rising cost of products; address the ever-increasing strain on payroll; and maintain the county’s facilities; the whole time while receiving less in revenue?  This isn’t just a localized issue. Financial drought is affecting governments and families across the nation.   So how do we solve this issue and not raise taxes on families?  Morgan County needs to provide business solutions.  We don’t need to build new buildings, but fill the empty buildings we have.   If Morgan County can help businesses succeed, those businesses will help strengthen Morgan County.  
I have lived in Morgan County for 36 years, while working on our family-run ranch.  My family has run sheep and cattle for over 100 years in Croydon.  After graduating from Morgan High School, I served a full-time mission to Charlotte, North Carolina. I then continued my education at Weber State University, where I met my wife Kim.  For the past 14 years, we have been building a family of our own. Now we have five growing children and plenty of hard labor for them when they are in trouble.  
I have had the opportunity to serve the public over the last 12 years in different capacities: I served for three years as Morgan County’s Young Farmer in the Farm Bureau of Utah.  I have served the last six years as the treasurer and supervisor for the Morgan Conservation District.  For the past eight years, I have been serving as treasurer for the Croydon Pipeline Company, and on the county’s water board.  During this time, I have also served two years on the board of the Utah Association of Conservation Districts, and two years as board member of the Utah Conservation Commission. While serving on these two boards, I had the opportunity to serve as the Principle Legislative Contact for the UACD. This gave me several opportunities to meet with congressional and state legislators and to work closely with their staff.  I have also served in different callings in my religion.
 
 
County Council District #4 - Daryl Ballantyne
 
 
1.  You are involved in an unopposed race.  What do you think of running unopposed?  Surprised actually.  Might be an indication that this is the wrong form of government for our county.  If you look at other counties in Utah, the majority have a three-member commissioner form of government.   I know we had a different form of government in the past and I am not sure why it changed, but having only three members could spark a healthy election campaign and election.  It would certainly get more people talking and fewer unopposed races.
2.  What is the biggest issue facing the county and the county council?  3.  How do you plan on handling that issue?
Economic development seems to  be the “buzzword” everyone is using in describing issues facing the county  and I agree.  I am in favor of moving forward and hiring someone to help with an economic development plan.   The Sept. 28, 2012, edition of The Morgan County News reported that “The best and easiest thing the county can do to change the reputation is to identify areas for business growth, adjust zoning maps, and change county codes.  These are areas we can do with our current staff, I am not sure why we are looking at another consultant.”  If those are the best and easiest things to do, why haven’t they been done already?
Another issue facing the county is rising infrastructure costs and repairs.  As a Project/Asset Manager for the Utah Department of Transportation, I see the costs of building/maintaining/repairing roads. These are huge costs and have to be managed well.   I am very happy to see that the council has created a facilities manager position and filled it with Mike Waite.  I think that was an outstanding hire and I also like the direction the council took to combine five departments and eliminate three supervisor positions.
4.  Why did you decide to run in this election?
My intent was to wait four or eight years and then jump into the political arena once my children were older (out of the house) and I had more experience in my current profession.   But when I found out that nobody had applied to fill an upcoming empty seat, I decided—literally at the last minute—to enter this year’s election.  I wanted to make sure District 4 has a “voice.”
5.  What qualifies you to serve on the county council?  6.  How long have you lived in the county?  7.  What previous political experience have you had?
I have lived in the county for 12 years and love being here.  I have no previous political experience, only a willingness to serve.  Since I have lived here, I have tried to get active and involved in the community by volunteering for sports teams and leagues, schools, and church service.  I like what I do professionally, but also enjoy what I studied at Weber State University (accounting.) This will lend a professional perspective when budgets are created and audit reports are reviewed.
8.  Biographical information:  I am 45 years old and have been married to Monika for 23 years.   She has been an incredible support to me.  We have three children: Emilia, who recently married Zach Egan.  Rhett is a 16-year-old junior at Morgan High School.  Ryan is a 14-year-old freshman at Morgan High. I have a BA and Masters Degree in accounting with an emphasis in audit.   I worked for Smith’s for 13 years in their payroll office and also as a pricing analyst.  For the last 12 years I have worked for the UDOT.  My first position was the administrative services manager.  In that position, I directed 11 employees and managed the budget for the Region 1 office.  In my current position at UDOT, I am a project/asset manager.  I manage the scope, schedule and budget for maintenance (preservation) projects.
In my free time I enjoy family activities. Lately I have been playing with and watching my boys golf on the high school team.  I love photography and taking little trips to photograph places in Utah.   I enjoy creating digital photo books of these trips and family events to keep for memories.  I like road biking and participating in different athletic events such as marathons and triathlons.  Hiking, fishing, back-packing and camping are pleasurable activities.  I love being in the company of friends and family playing card games.
 
 
School Board District #3 - Ken Durrant
 
 
1.         What is the biggest issue facing the county and the school board?
There are two issues that compound the challenges of the school district.
Increased enrollment.  This year alone, we have increased by 114 students.  If the students were all the same age or grade, we would need an additional five new teachers and classrooms.  As Morgan continues to grow, the pressure will increase on the staff/student ratio and building options.  The increased enrollment does provide additional monies from the state, but not enough to cover the inherited costs with enrollment expansion.
The county tax base has not increased from new and/or additional businesses coming into our community to offset the costs related to this increase in enrollment, which now falls on the private homeowner as increased property taxes.  The state has also reduced the amount of monies for their required programs, placing the burden on the local communities to support these programs.
2.         How do you plan on handling that issue? The school district has cut its yearly operating cost well over $1.2 million and we will continue to search for ways of either combining services and/or deleting nonessential programs.  We will continue to lobby the state legislature for additional funding, especially for impact funds to help with increased enrollment.  In the current economic struggle we are facing, we will continue to act in the best interests of the children and the tax payers of Morgan and we will live within our means.
3.         Why did you decide to run in this election?  It would be very easy to walk away in light of the challenges our Morgan School District is facing, but that attitude is not in my nature.  If there was ever a time to fight for our children, our taxpayers and our county, it is now and I will continue to fight in their behalf.
4.         What qualifies you to serve on the school board?  I was a school teacher for nine years and worked in the private sector for another 30 years. This unique background helps in understanding both sides of issues.  I understand the concerns of the rising cost of taxes upon the homeowner and the wise use of tax payer’s funds.   I can also share the frustrations some teachers have with limited resources and direction.  Since I have been on the board, I have learned the intricate political parts of state school funding, acquiring and using additional available resources, and the required federal, state and local directions of education.   I want the board to continue to act in the best interests of the students, the staff and the community family.
5.         How long have you lived in the county?  My entire life.
6.         What previous political experience have you had?  None, I do not consider my tenure on the school board as a political venue.  I serve no political party or special interest group.  However, I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve the students, the school staff and my fellow community  members for the best possible education of our children.
7.         Biographical information:  I am a 1966 Morgan High School graduate.  After my mission, I attended Weber State University and acquired a B.S. degree in education.  I was a school teacher for nine years and then I entered the private working sector.  I worked for 30 years at Holcim, where I was a laborer, an electrician and a supervisor at different points in time.  My wife of 42 years is Kris Durrant and we were blessed with four beautiful children and now are enjoying 11 wonderful grandchildren of which all but two attend Morgan County Schools.
8. Anything else you would like to add. . .   We are currently facing the most difficult challenges that have faced the Morgan School District since it was incorporated 100 years ago.  If there was ever a time to have experienced leadership at the local district level, the time is now.  I know I can provide that leadership combined with the other board members to allow this district to overcome the rough finical roads ahead.  It has been a wonderful opportunity to serve on the Morgan Board of Education and I hope to have the community’s support to continue to serve.
 
 
School Board District #3 - Clay Rich
 
 
My name is Clay Rich and I am a candidate for the Morgan County School Board, Canyon Creek District. I graduated from Weber State University with a degree in accounting and I have spent the last 25 years working for a number of different businesses including, Flying J Inc., Sizzling Platter Inc., Utility Trailer Sales of Utah Inc., Carrier Transicold of Utah and Utility Trailer Sales of the Midwest Inc. My responsibility includes, or has included the management of fully integrated accounting and financial systems for multiple entities, corporate budgeting, “capital and operating budgets,” strategic planning, business development, legal and real property, public relations, compliance, cash and treasury management, risk management, audits, corporate human resource, credit and collections.
My previous political experience would include Caucus Chair, State Delegate and four and one half years on the Morgan County Planning Commission, two years as chairman. My time spent serving this county on the planning commission was a rewarding experience. I believe it was a rewarding experience because I tried my best to be objective, and I never sought a safe place when it came time to make a decision.
 I have three boys, one who has graduated from Morgan High School, one who attends Morgan High School and my youngest who attends Morgan Middle School. My decision to run for the school board is a result of no profound experience, no complaint, but a belief that things should be better, and a belief that the best time to make things better is while my children are still attending school.
I have been asked to respond to what I believe is the biggest problem facing the school district and how I’d fix it. My answer is “I’m not sure what the biggest problem is.” I see a number of important issues, and in time I will identify that which is most important and aggressively address it. Let me make some suggestions however. The school board should do all they can to accomplish the following:
1.    Make things simple! We live in a world which has come to believe that if we complicate something we have improved it, not true!
2.    Focus on the primary role of public education, which is education! Things like math, science, history, reading, writing, art, band, etc. Sometimes schools become so involved in being all things to all people that they forget the primary purpose for their existence.
3.    Focus on policy and strategic issues! The board should behave in a more strategic way, and empower administrative personnel to manage the day to day and other peripheral issues.
4.    Involve the community and especially parents! Parents should be involved in education in a real substantive way, not just as people who take direction from the school district, helping with homework and fundraisers.
5.    Disengage from social issues so far as possible! Schools too often compete with parents and clergy in teaching social issues. Unless the community specifically requests participation, the school district should be involved with only those social issues for which it has a regulated obligation, and the scope of that involvement should be carefully considered.
I know that there are contemporary issues in our district. Issues like spending and taxes. I have spent some time trying to understand these issues and would be glad to talk at length with anyone who has a question or suggestion, just call or come see me. Finally, I appreciate the support I have so far received and pledge to give my best if elected.