The Orderville Town Council and Kane County Commission held a public town hall followed by a “Meet the Candidates” event at the North Event Center on October 27, at 6:30 p.m. All three Kane County Commissioners were in attendance. School board candidates, Jarad Brinkerhoff and Brian Goulding attended the event, as did county commission candidates Andy Gant, Pat Horning, Camille Johnson and Celeste Meyeres. Commission candidate Patty Kubeja chose not to attend.
When asked about attendance, Commissioner Wade Heaton said, “We were expecting maybe a dozen or so people tonight. To have this many turn out is wonderful!”
About 75 residents filled the gym at the NEC to discuss administration of the event center, the possibility of Kane County Hospital (KCH) opening a clinic in Orderville, space for the LEGO and Care & Share programs and a walking trail to connect the NEC to downtown. There was spirited discussion on each of the topics. Support for a connecting trail was close to unanimous, as was enthusiasm for ongoing support of the LEGO and Share & Care programs. Input about administration of the NEC was collected, with a promise from the county for more public meetings to inform an eventual agreement between the two entities. Support for KCH opening a clinic was mixed, with Town Board member, Robert Lacey planning to send a second community poll to expand on the data collected in an ad hoc email poll sent the day before the event.
Lacey moderated the candidate event, consisting of questions from the audience written and submitted just before the candidates took their seats at the front, as well as questions asked directly from the audience. Given two minutes to outline their school board candidacies, Brinkerhoff started by saying he’d like students in the valley to have more vocational activities and for there to be transparency regarding the budget. Goulding noted that he’s been on the school board for 12 years and is seeking another term, noting that valley schools had received an “A” grade from the state this year.
Both candidates fielded a range of questions on topics like spending, the role of school board members vs principals and dress codes. Residents are encouraged to contact school board candidates directly with additional questions, if needed, before casting their votes.
Due to Kubeja’s absence and after checking with the room, Lacey opted to have all four candidates for both county commission seats answer questions from the audience, instead of separate question periods for each seat. The first question was for Lacey, with a resident asking, “Isn’t there someone who can talk to Patty about why they should vote for her?” Lacey answered, “No,” noting the event was organized as an in-person question and answer session and adding that Kubeja had received an invitation and chose not to attend.
Questions covered everything from legal challenges to federal land use policies to two candidate’s assertion that “back door deals” are happening at the county level. Horning was asked specifically about the latter by an audience member, as his campaign materials and social media posts make the claim directly. He could not provide evidence for his claims, though he did mention recent legislation and private business activities that he opposed. The other candidates stated that they had not heard or seen evidence of back door deals at the county, and that records of the county’s finances and business activities are audited by the state and publicly available.
When asked about their number one lifetime achievements, all four candidates talked about family, community and public service. When asked about how they’ll connect with people in the valley, each candidate affirmed that understanding and including the needs of residents outside of Kanab in the county’s work will be an ongoing priority.
Orderville Mayor Lyle Goulding offered the last question of the evening, asking the candidates if they supported development on the east side of Zion. Gant, Johnson and Meyeres said they support the project in its current iteration. Horning said he supports development in the area, but not the means of funding being implemented by the district’s residents and the developers.
Kubeja is on the ballot for commission Seat A. Gant is running as a write-in candidate for commission Seat A. Meyeres and Horning are on the ballot for commission seat B. Johnson is running as write-in candidate for commission Seat B. Kane County residents will make their choices for both seats on November 8.