The Republican primary election forum, sponsored by the Kanab Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Utah News was held on Monday, June 6, drawing a crowd of roughly 35 people in person at the Kanab Middle School commons area, with as many as 234 tuning in to the Facebook livestream of the event.
In attendance were commissioners up for election: Andy Gant, Patty Kubeja and Celeste Meyeres. Michael East was not able to attend due to a previous family commitment. School Board applicants for the District 4 election were also in attendance: Marc Grow, Loral Linton and Joshua Porter.
Running unopposed, Sheriff Tracy Glover started the forum off by announcing his priorities as Sheriff. He touched on the topic of school safety in light of the recent school shootings and stressed that school safety is of the utmost importance. His department, in conjuction with Kanab City Police, prioritize training for possibilities, not probabilities.
Each candidate introduced themselves and responded to questions by moderator Jeff Mosdell.
The first question: Why is the county commissioner position important?
Andy Gant said the county commissioners make important decisions that affect land use issues, including roads, infrastructure and recently helped passed legislation with Congress that could open uranium mining on the Arizona strip again, bringing more jobs.
Patty Kubeja answered that it’s like the legislative and executive branch for the county and that there must be trust with the community with the resources it’s entrusted with. A big part of the commissioner’s job is to build relationships with Utah legislators.
Celeste Meyeres said she’s been going to all the commission meetings this year in preparation to learn all she can about the commissioners’ roles. They deal with basic county services and infrastructure. They also work with neighboring counties to have a bigger voice for rural Utah, and that although commissioners may disagree at times, it’s important to have a shared vision and strong voice when fighting for Kane County issues with congress and Utah legislators.
Another question asked of each candidate was: Should Kane County be involved in encouraging growth?
Celeste Meyeres replied that she felt the free market is generally better in handling growth and development within the county. The government’s job is protecting the safety and well-being of its citizens and the government shouldn’t intervene within certain limits.
Andy Gant responded by saying that the commission has less control over Planning & Zoning than most people think. The P&Z board is buried with tons of work, but the county can assist in a measured way. They have control over some zoning but that the next group of commissioners need to be vigilant in managing zoning regulations for business growth as development increases.
Patty Kubeja added that we need to manage the growth and sometimes the answer needs to be no! She said we don’t want to be another Moab, and we don’t want to see our farmland turn to developments.
One of the concluding questions was: Should the county be involved in providing municipal services to unincorporated areas of the county?
Andy Gant said the county is not a municipal service provider. He said the county just passed a regulation that developers will now be required to pay road maintenance, flood control, curb, and gutter. He would like to see situations where it’s easier for those developments to be annexed by the city, and the county can help facilitate that, but the developers and the residents of those areas need to be responsible for services, and not increase taxes for everyone else in the county to pay for services in those new development areas.
Patty Kubeja said fire protection, fire protection, fire protection! The county needs to help them in regard to fire services. Large HOA fees for these types of services will make housing even more unaffordable and disagreed with Commissioner Gant, that the county has the resources to help.
Celeste Meyeres concluded that people moving to unincorporated areas know they are trading a little less service for a lot more freedom but mentioned that the county can fulfill its duties by educating those move-ins about the differences between living in the city and the county and the type of services that are available.
The School Board candidates followed a similar format where they introduced themselves and responded to questions.
The first question was: What issue made you want to run for the school board?
Marc Grow started by saying he is passionate about helping young kids learn how to communicate and build confidence. He mentioned as someone who teaches a class at the school each day, and being involved with teaching and coaching, he wants to focus on teaching the students proper conflict resolution skills to prepare them for the future.
Loral Linton said that making sure the students strive to meet high standards by keeping high expectations will help the students achieve their educational goals. By doing that, they will be prepared to meet life’s challenges.
Joshua Porter added that education was thrown upside down through the pandemic, and forced kids to learn differently, and teachers to teach differently. He said that one reason for running is to examine current teaching methods and to see if the students are utilizing new technology to reach the students in a way that may be different than how teachers were taught.
Another question asked was: How is the best way to prepare our students for the workforce after they graduate?
Joshua Porter started off by saying there are a lot of different options than the traditional route. He has a business degree, but it didn’t teach him the soft skills necessary to be successful at his current job. Those soft skills can be taught at the high school level so students can learn different skills and they don’t have to settle for traditional routes to a career.
Marc Grow answered that he would like to identify students who have interests to help them get out of their comfort zones while in high school so it’s not such a shock when they enter a career path, and they will have basic business and fundamental life skills on overcoming conflict and being able to communicate well with and without a mobile device.
Loral Linton said it doesn’t matter what career path students take, but the basics in science, math and language arts can prepare them. He added that Kane County schools regularly score higher than other schools in the state and the school board has provided many extra fields of study to provide a variety, like the new cosmetology program, trade classes and culinary arts.
The candidates provided closing statements and thanked those who attended the forum.
The primary election for county commission seats and the District 4 seats will be held on June 26, 2022. Only those in District 4 can vote for the School Board candidates.