Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for August 24, 2011
Kanab City Council candidate Victor Cooper
We asked the following questions of the eight remaining Kanab City Council candidates. After a random drawing, these candidates were chosen this week. The other four candidates’ responses will be in next week’s paper. Beth Kampschror and Charley Wright have dropped out of the race.
1) Give us a little background on yourself.
2) Why do you want to run for city council?
3) What are your thoughts on the coal gasification plant and the process taken until now?
4) What’s your vision for Kanab in the next 10 years?
5) Name one thing that you want to accomplish if elected.
1) I was born in New York and our family moved to Texas when I was 11. I graduated from Texas Tech University in 1981 with a BA in telecommunications. While still in school, I worked as a cameraman at the ABC TV station in Lubbock, Texas. That experience led me to work as a cameraman with CBS stations in Beaumont, Oklahoma City and Houston.
I went on to work for CBS News in Moscow (not Idaho), covering the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, the crash of the ruble, the spread of capitalism, and the start of the Russian war in Chechnya. I was shot at repeatedly by Russian special forces and also had the rare opportunity to travel above the Arctic Circle to do stories in Russian coal mines (don’t do this). I also covered stories in Iran and several former Soviet republics.
After three years, I returned to the U.S. and continued to work for CBS in New York and Dallas. I’ve travelled to more than 25 countries for work and fun, and have been to Antarctica twice. I’ve seen a Space Shuttle blast off, flown on Air Force One, covered a Super Bowl, been on stage with Brooks and Dunn and covered six Democratic and Republican National Political Conventions.
I met Victoria, my lovely, hardworking and brilliant wife, while working in OKC. We we were married in Zion National Park 24 years ago. Marrying in Zion also solidified our love for southern Utah, and in April of 2000, we opened The Rocking V Café. Through long hours and hard work, we have built a highly-successful business that has created jobs, contributes to Kanab’s tax base and supports many community events.
We love living here in Kanab with our two dogs we adopted from Best Friends, Spottypottamus and Screaming Mimi. I love hiking the slick and the slots, taking pictures, riding my Can Am 650 XT and abusing the tourists who can’t understand Utah’s liquor laws at the cafe.
As a successful business owner, I understand how to solve problems. I enjoy meeting and greeting visitors from around the world and welcoming them to Kanab. I am driven to succeed. I believe these are all qualities that would make me a successful city councilmember and official representative of Kanab.
2) I’m running because I believe OPEN government is GOOD government. Good government listens to the citizens. Issues of public importance deserve public input. The people should be involved in the process.
As a council member, I will listen to the residents of Kanab, encourage them to participate and guarantee their voices are heard. And to encourage them, I propose that EVERY city council meeting should begin with a public speaking period so that residents can let city officials know what is on their minds. This should be customary practice, not just occasionally at the mayor’s discretion at the end of the full agenda, as the new city ordinance dictates.
3) The plant does not belong in Kanab. The massive “stacks” will detract from our magnificent scenery and the stink from the exhaust will pollute our air. People visit and move to Kanab for “The Greatest Earth on Show” and get to escape the dirty air of polluted cities. It will not directly contribute tax revenue to the city and it will not create long term jobs.
So, how exactly, will the people of Kanab benefit? I have spoken with a wide range of citizens and no one seems to know the answer to this question. If our elected officials know the answer, they should tell us.
The process taken can be defined this way: LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY.
City officials knew of the project well in advance of the zone change request, yet neglected to inform the public that a coal gasification plant was being considered. The legal notices in the paper only mentioned a zone change from agricultural to “light” manufacturing for Mr. Jim Guthrie. There was never any mention of a coal gasification project or Viresco Energy.
City officials should have done their homework and asked detailed questions BEFORE they approved the zone change. For some reason, they appeared to be in a big hurry to get the plant approved. Not until there was massive public disapproval did the city start to slow the process and require more information.
And yet, the plant was approved without one of the most vital details being known. The planning commission issued a conditional use permit still not knowing how high the exhaust flare would be, thereby allowing for the possibility that the final height of the stack could be over 100 feet. Of course we don’t know what the actual height will be, since the people charged with looking out for Kanab’s interests deemed it unnecessary to make Mr. Guthrie provide that critical piece of information.
So, I am left to asking Kanab residents this question: “Would the planning and zoning commission have approved this conditional use permit if YOUR name was on that permit?”
4) I see a united community working together to achieve common goals. This can only happen through effective and positive leadership. I will work hard to unite the community by encouraging public input. We will value all participation, and make sure no segments of this community are left out of discussions. Our challenge is to keep Kanab’s small-town charm intact, while maintaining a sustainable economic base.
If we’re all pulling in the same direction than we’ll be going somewhere. That “somewhere” is a place with a stable and vibrant economy capitalizing on the resources we have available to us: amazing scenery, clean air and water, dark star-lit skies, no crime and friendly people.
We should recruit businesses that fit into Kanab’s location and vision. We should promote renewable energy sources as a means to keep our air and water clean as well as provide stable power sources for businesses and for our hospital. We should work to bring a community college to Kanab so students do not have to leave Kanab to continue their education. We must also guarantee that our hospital receives the resources it needs to remain up to date and responsive to the needs of this community.
5) I want to bring the public back into the process of running Kanab by encouraging input from the citizens. This starts with the attitude that more voices make for better decisions.
I want to open the channels of communication between the citizens and the council by promoting citizen involvement and making every attempt to keep the public informed on what’s going on in the city. This will help unite the city by showing every citizen we value their opinions.
Here’s how I’ll do it:
•Realize people’s time is valuable and have a citizen’s open comment period before every city council meeting, so people may speak without having to sit through hours of discussions that do not pertain to their issues.
•Print notices about meetings in the paper, using language everyone understands, so residents know what issues will be discussed at first glance and will not need a secret decoder ring and a 380-page city plan to figure it out.
•Zoning issues being discussed at meetings should be explained in understandable language at the start of each meeting before referring to them by zoning code letters.
•Go beyond meeting the minimum legal requirement for notices and public input. Just because the council is not required to hold a public meeting does not mean we can’t hold one if we feel it will promote better communication and understanding. If there is a question as to whether to hold a public meeting with citizens, always choose to hold the public meeting.
•Regular updates in the paper and on the city website about city projects and plans so that citizens can be informed about what is going on in their town, even if they cannot attend a council meeting.
•Reach out regularly to all segments of the community from council members. Visit businesses, civic and religious groups to solicit their input. People respond when they feel they are being included.
•Host quarterly community events such as ice cream socials at the city park where all citizens can come and mingle. This way, when citizens get together in public it is for something other than a heated public meeting over a contentious issue.