The candidates for Kanab City Mayor and Kanab City Council briefly introduced themselves to open the October 16 Candidates’ Forum held by the Kanab Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club at the Kanab Middle School. The two mayoral candidates, and three of four Kanab City Council candidates answered questions posed by the chamber, as well as some by the audience. A statement from council candidate and incumbent Jim Sorenson apologized for his absence, stating he had just gotten out of the hospital and was recovering. He stressed he’d be happy to answer any questions voters had, and to contact him online.

The first question concerned why the candidates were running.

Mayoral candidate and incumbent Nina Laycook stressed her background in accounting, and experience while working here and in high profile jobs in California. She said the business of city government was primarily about providing services (water, sewer, etc.)

Mayoral candidate Robert Houston said that his education was in accounting and business, and that as a lifelong resident and businessman here, he always wanted to be the mayor of Kanab. “A mayor’s power is in leadership.”

Kanab City Councilman candidate and incumbent Brent Chamberlain (appointed to fill former councilman Ed Meyer’s term), said he was qualified to run due to his strong interest in serving and background in human resources. He said he’d listen to the people and try to respond to what they want.

Kanab City Council candidate Kent Burggraaf said he loves Kanab, and wants to make it an even better place. He hopes to represent the people to preserve their home, business and safety. As an attorney, he said his legal background will help to minimize lawsuits.

Kanab City Council candidate Bob Senecal said he wants to help give the people a voice, and foster a sense of belonging to the community.

The second question concerned the candidate’s view of Kanab City’s ordinances.

Chamberlain responded that he felt land use ordinances have been restrictive. He added that the planning and zoning committee and city council have been working together to remedy that. “What we need is a vision and make sure that our ordinances are getting us there.”

Burggraaf said that ordinances shouldn’t hinder business development or the city. He said that as a planning and zoning member, they had been working on improvements. Some regulations have stunted business growth.

Senecal said that the ordinances seemed to be a cut and paste of the state code. He would like P&Z ordinances to be more specific to Kanab.

Houston said they needed to look at how they administered the ordinances. They needed to be more business-friendly. He said that can be accomplished by more work on them and public input.

Laycook said that land use and nuisance ordinances are of particular interest.

What do you feel is Kanab’s biggest challenge?

Burggraaf responded that ordinances were. They need to have a can-do attitude. Kanab City needs to reduce sales tax, have less regulation, and lower taxes. He also said that there was a need to maintain a sustainable budget, stressing that they shouldn’t rely on raising taxes every year.

Senecal wants less government intrusion.

Houston said that getting people together for a common goal was the challenge.

Laycook said the economy has been the challenge, and that we need family-sustainable jobs. Utah is attracting new business, we need to do more outreach to the state to get some more businesses to consider here.

Chamberlain said that Kanab stressed economic activity during shoulder seasons. He felt they needed to start marketing Kanab as a winter convention spot.

What opportunities might be overlooked in Kanab?

Houston said they need to work with and promote Best Friends. They have a big impact here. We need to develop a sales plan, and take the opportunity to promote our community.

Laycook hopes to make better use of the old middle school as an activities/convention location. She said that Kane County School District wants to work with the city to make it best for the public good. Laycook said that move would mean that folks are more engaged in the community.

Chamberlain said that encouraging tourists to stay more then one night in the community would help.

Burggraaf said the city isn’t taking advantage of Capital Improvement Funds. He said much could be done with the funds that would allow the city to partner other local agencies to get infrastructure improvements.

Senecal said that we are overlooking the opportunity to work together.

Random questions from the audience came next.

What are your ideas to replace the City Manager? (City Fire Chief Joe Decker was appointed interim after Glen Vernon’s departure due to health.)

Laycook responded they were waiting until after the elections to do so.

Chamberlain said that they were saddened to see Glen Vernon go so quickly, and that he had great people skills.

Burggraaf said that Vernon was a breath of fresh air, and had set a high bar. He said the former city manager caused a bit of damage and mistrust. He hopes for the next manager to have experience and education, and works well with people. But, he stressed that a city manager needs to take advice from the Kanab City Council, versus telling them. He added later, that the position should be reviewed for necessity.

Senecal said that he thought getting a new manager after the election was good.

Houston said that while he didn’t know the interim’s qualifications, may need to look for an interim.

The city’s role in higher education.

Chamberlain said that they can do a lot more.

Burggraaf said that in his work in juvenile court, more adult education was needed.

Senecal said we educate our kids and send them off. It is important to support them here.

Houston reiterated that education is important.

Laycook said she believes in strong relationships between schools and governments.

Is there a conflict concerning the city council candidate who is also a Kane County Deputy Attorney?

Burggraaf (Deputy County Attorney) said he doesn’t receive any compensation from the city. He thinks that his legal background and training can be of service to the city.

Senecal said that it seems to be a conflict.

Houston said that some of the city’s legal conflicts may have been avoided with legal advice at the table.

Chamberlain said that it was conceivable that there would be a conflict of interest.

How do you feel about the closure of the Kanab Justice Court?

Bob Senecal said that he believed the decision was made on a strictly financial basis. He added that he thought it was important for the city to have its own judicial system.

Houston said the city could’ve averted a big problem, by being more open.

Laycook said the city can’t have all the employees they want without raising taxes. “I believe it was the right decision.”

Chamberlain said the city had looked at ways to consolidate services to save money, and the county’s ability to handle it. Thus, the city’s decision.

Burggraaf criticized the action, and that the city filed a suit against Judge Johnson (an elected official). He said the action was to combine a redundant service. “The public was less than informed on this subject.”

What are your thoughts on a good recycling program?

Houston said we need to make an effort to get a program started.

Laycook said recyclables are a commodity that goes up and down, and that it was cost prohibitive for the city to participate.

Chamberlain said that citizens are not prepared to pay for curbside recycling service yet.

Burggraaf said he used to live in an area with recycling. He encouraged citizens to let the city council know if that’s something they want to go for.

Senecal said that there were different levels of recycling. But concerning city sponsored efforts, he believes that our economics and location prohibit that.

Current status of the pool.

Laycook said the pool had trouble immediately after being built. The question was concerning who was at fault, the contractors or manufacturer? She said there is current litigation concerning responsibility, and that the case should go to trial early next year.

Chamberlain said the city purchased and paid for a pool, and it was defective. He added that the city council pushed forward to have the pool open, but will hold those responsible

Burggraaf said that it won’t be resolved for some time, and his understanding was that the issue could’ve been resolved by better contractor oversite.

Senecal said that while pools are a community asset, they are costly.

Houston said it’s a great pool, but we may have considered a more economical pool.

Kanab City is strapped for cash, they seem to rely on the county for providing more services.

Chamberlain said that it’s not problematic to work with the county. The city has been behind schedule, and they need to attract new businesses to expand the tax base.

Burggraaf again expounded on utilizing Capital Improvement Funds. We shouldn’t be buying oversized pools, etc. He stressed that the city shouldn’t be borrowing from water and sewer funds to make ends meet and focused on a sustainable budget.

Senecal said he was impressed by the city crews. The city parks are one of the best assets here.

Houston said that it’s all about management. “We need to define what we expect.” What about infrastructure for five years?

Laycook then listed all the city’s accomplishments on infrastructure, ie., airport resurfacing, new storm water drainage, Kanab’s drinking water is some of the best in the state. Our infrastructure is in very good shape!