An auditorium full of interested voters came out to hear the debate between Pleasant Grove's mayoral and city council candidates in preparation for casting their votes on Nov. 5. Discussion largely centered around Proposition 1, a proposal to obtain a bond for $16.96 million and raise property taxes to pay for new public safety facilities. The proposition is also on November's ballot. Economic development was another major topic.
"I am voting yes on Proposition 1," said incumbent mayor Bruce Call. "The police station was built when there were only 11 employees and there are now over 50. The court area has no jury deliberation room, the dispatch is unsafe and the city has never built a new fire station."
"It has been clear for some time that we need new facilities for public safety," said former mayor Mike Daniels. However, he said that it is premature to approve Proposition 1. There are several options that need to be explored and a plan needs to be put into place before approving the bond.
Both candidates agreed that if the proposition does not pass, the need for a new public safety building would not go away, and neither would give up on the future of the facilities.
Call and Daniels both stated that the city's economic growth is also of great importance. Call said that the city is doing well financially. "2013 will be our highest sales tax revenue year ever," he said. There is an ongoing need, however, to continue to do everything that can be done to bring in businesses and maximize the tax base, he said.
"I'm a business person," said Daniels. We need to bring businesses into the city so that we can increase revenue from sales and property taxes, he said. "We need to spread the burden around." Daniels is running for mayor as a write-in candidate.
Candidate David Peterson was unable to participate in the debate. In comments to the Daily Herald, he said that his first priority as mayor would be to increase the city's tax base. That way, there would be a means to pay for important projects such as new public safety facilities and road improvements. "We've had dilapidated city buildings for a long time. The cops and firefighters are miracle workers, given what they have," he said.
All of the city council candidates agreed that there is a need for new public safety facilities. However, they do not all support Proposition 1.
"There is no doubt in my mind that there is a need," said Dianna Andersen. But, she said that more information is needed before making a decision. "I have knocked on doors and I have heard some phenomenal ideas."
"I will support the citizens' vote," said Eric Jensen. Jensen said that the divide that has happened in the city over this issue is disappointing. "I'm for us working together as citizens and coming together to find a solution."
Ben Stanley said that he is happy that the residents have the opportunity to vote on the bond. But, he thinks it is too soon. 2014 has more appeal, he said, after time to get more information. "We don't have all the answers yet."
Andy Weight said that he would listen to the recommendations given from the Blue Ribbon Committee, a committee that researched options for the public safety facilities. "We need to listen to them," he said.
All of the council candidates discussed the city's economic challenges and the need to aggressively recruit businesses.