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Orem mayoral candidates address campaign issues in Q&A

By Genelle Pugmire - | Oct 25, 2021

LEFT: Orem mayoral candidate Jim Evans. RIGHT: Orem mayoral candidate Dave Young. (Courtesy photos)

There has never been a more critical time in Orem’s recent history for voters to understand exactly who their candidates are and what they stand for than this election season.

Today the Daily Herald features the Orem mayoral candidates responding to prepared questions on issues that affect Orem.

The Herald has allowed candidates to write their answer so readers can get the “exact” words from the candidates and other contributors.

Meet the candidates

The candidates provided biographical information on themselves which is shared below:

Dave Young: “Dave Young is a successful businessman who founded several companies, including Paragon Wealth Management. Over 35 years later, his company has survived and thrived in some of the most challenging investment markets in history. As a result of his leadership, Paragon Wealth Management has received numerous awards, including Advisors with Heart, NABCAP Premier Advisor five times, and Best of State Investment Advisor eleven times. Dave founded the Live Your Dream Foundation, a nonprofit organization which has raised over $500,000 to provide tuition assistance to single mothers.”

“Dave understands we must guide Orem into the future with forward-thinking policies which plan for growth, and at the same time protect the family neighborhoods and values that have made our city a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Dave will use his experience and business knowledge to promote and empower Orem businesses. Dave is committed to protecting taxpayer money and will promote fiscal responsibility in Orem.”

“Dave is committed to looking for innovative ways to improve and streamline government services while respecting taxpayers. Dave’s unique experience will help him guide Orem to the next step while ensuring a good return on investment for taxpayers.”

“Dave and his wife Cathy are longtime Orem residents and have five children and ten grandchildren. Dave is committed and invested in our community. He enjoys his work, fitness, adventure travel, the outdoors and spending time with his family.”

Jim Evans: “Jim Evans and his wife, Tana (who taught kindergarten in Alpine School District for 27 years and then substituted for another 9 years including Orem Schools SCERA Park, Cascade and Orem Elementary), have resided in Orem since 1984.

“They have 3 children (and their spouses) and 11 grandchildren plus 1 great granddaughter.”

“Jim is fluent in Spanish, enjoys BYU and UVU sports and has been known to do DJ gigs for local youth dances, weddings and parties. Jim has coached youth sports including girls’ and boys’ basketball and boys’ baseball in Orem. He has currently been serving as the Executive Director of America’s Freedom Festival.”

“Some of Jim’s Other Community Service includes Utah State Department of Transportation Commissioner representing Region 3 (Utah, Juab, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah and Daggett counties); Utah Valley University Community Advisory Committee; Mountainland MPO Regional Planning Committee and the SCERA National Advisory Board.”

“His past service includes Mayor of Orem; Orem City Council Member; Trustee & Chair, Timpanogos Regional Hospital Board; Trustee & Chair, Utah College of Applied Technology, Trustee & Chair, Mountainland Applied Technology College; Regent, Utah System of Higher Education; Board member & Chair, United Way of Utah County; Member, Orem Community Block Grant Advisory Committee; Member, Orem Transportation Advisory Committee; Board Member, Alpine School District Board of Education; Board Member, Provo-Orem & Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.”

“Jim and Tana have given over 37 years of service to the residents of Orem, Utah County and the State of Utah and look forward to using their past experiences to benefit the residents of Orem if elected to be Orem’s new mayor.”

Question & Answer

Question: If there was an issue the residents did not like, but that you as a leader knew it was good for the city long-term what would you do?

Evans: “One of the principles of our government is that people elect their leaders to represent them. I would hope to never get to this stage, because I will be out meeting with residents and neighborhoods to discuss proposals and see if we can work collaboratively. At the end of the day residents deserve to be heard and listened to, and that is who I work for.”

Young: “The premise of this question is wrong. The question also assumes I will always know more about an issue than the residents and that they are unable to make good decisions. My leadership style is centered on listening, being transparent, and providing information to the citizens on the issues.

I have said repeatedly during this campaign that the first thing I will always do is listen, and then I will lead. I will gather as much input as possible to understand what the majority of the citizens want, and that will be my basis for making difficult decisions in the future.

The Mayor and the City Council members should be servants of the people and genuinely represent the people they serve.”

Question: Housing that is affordable is on the minds of many people as is growth in Orem. Where do you think there would need to be housing that is affordable such as multifamily dwellings; near transit hubs, elsewhere in the city, or stop the building altogether Orem is done, redevelopment, or something else?

Young: “The answer to this question comes down to defining Orem’s vision for the future. For the past ten years, we have experienced unbridled growth focused on high-density, high-rise, high-priced, rental apartments. This has resulted in excessive and unsafe traffic. The State Street Master Plan would allow that trajectory to continue. As I’ve talked to Orem residents, the majority do not like the direction we are headed. They believe that we are losing our Family City USA focus.

What do our citizens want Orem to be in the next ten years? Do we want more poorly planned, high-density rental apartments and more traffic? I’ve heard residents say they want a renewed focus on making Family City USA the foundation for all of our decisions going forward. They want affordable housing in the form of owner-occupied dwellings, not more rentals. Orem needs to stop replacing affordable homes with apartments.”

Evans: “I’m supportive of the current moratorium to make sure we get this right on State Street.  High density housing needs to not be in the neighborhoods. Housing affordability isn’t just an Orem issue. Other communities in Utah County need to help with the supply issue. I’m supportive of housing geared towards college students being near UVU and the Front Runner station and keeping those students from parking in the neighborhoods surrounding UVU. I’m looking forward to meeting with fellow Mayors in Utah County and encouraging them to help with this problem. Additionally, I will work with our state legislators on this issue as I have with them on other issues in the past.”

Question: Both mayoral candidates have said that safety in Orem is a priority. How will you as mayor keep Orem safe; what needs to be done?

Evans: “I’m grateful that the City Council and Mayor previously increased the pay for police and fire. I supported that effort while others running for office this year didn’t. The results are, we are keeping qualified public safety employees and attracting more to our community. I’m endorsed by the Orem Fraternal Order of Police and the Orem Police Department Family Association because they know I’m not just talk about keeping Orem safe — I’ve proven my efforts with action both as a public official as well as a citizen helping to raise additional funds for our public safety. I’m grateful we can all sleep a little better at night knowing that the men and women of Orem’s public safety are watching over our community.”

Young: “Our first responders keep us safe. In the current climate of opposition, I will stand by our first responders and make every effort to provide the leadership, resources and training to keep our city safe, and attract superior talent to work in Orem. Our first responders will be a top priority if I am elected.”

Question: Given the State Legislature appears to be taking housing and other issues into their own jurisdiction rather than let individual communities deal with their own concerns, how will you as mayor work with the city manager and staff to keep the legislature from dictating policy to the cities?

Young: “Communication with State elected officials is key. I will work with city management to clearly communicate to the State Legislature the issues facing Orem and the contributions Orem is currently making to assist with housing and other issues. With a positively communicated message, I will emphasize a city-by-city approach vs. a one-size fits all. I will create a group of specific City Council members, City Employees, members of the community and the Mayor’s office to connect and work with State legislators.”

Evans: “I am the candidate who has the relationships with state leaders and fellow Utah County mayors, and we can appropriately push back on the state taking over our land use decisions. The government closest to the people governs best. A shotgun state-wide approach to land use decision making is not in the best interest of Orem residents, or any residents of Utah. Orem has a good process where projects go through a planning commission made up of dedicated volunteers from our community and then goes to the City Council. We have an engaged citizenry. The process works in Orem.”

Both candidates were given one question specific to their platform or by things that have been addressed on their campaign websites.

Question: You have said you want to listen to the residents and protect the neighborhoods. Can you tell us what you believe the neighborhoods need to be protected from and how do you deal with NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard)?

Evans: “Every resident in Orem deserves to be heard. That’s non-negotiable. In my prior service I listened to over four hours of public comment in one meeting just to make sure every resident in attendance at that meeting could speak to the Council.”

“Many of us live in Orem because of the high quality of life here and the neighborhood and community feel. I’m committed to keeping high density housing out of the neighborhoods.”

“A one size fits all approach to zoning and planning doesn’t work. There is an assumption that any project would be opposed by neighbors, and that isn’t always the case.”

“They need to be protected from commercial growth and creep.  They need to have solid fire and police protection to feel that their neighborhoods are protected.”

Question: On your campaign website you refer to forward thinking policies. What are some of the forward thinking policies you would like to implement?

Young: “I will work with our council members to lead Orem forward responsibly by involving community member input and implementing positive plans that have future growth and development in mind. It’s time to put an end to the poorly planned high-density rental projects of the last 10 years that lack adequate parking, increase traffic, and creep into our neighborhoods. Let me be clear, I’m definitely not against development, I’m a business guy and I want to help businesses and working families with good policies that promote responsible growth, while protecting family neighborhoods. We must preserve affordable homes, carefully plan appropriate infrastructure, and seek out developments that support and provide economic opportunities. Developments that will protect the things we all love about Orem. I look forward to regularly reaching out to residents, local businesses, and all those with a vested interest in our future to ensure Orem remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Closing Statements

Young and Evans were both allowed to give a closing statement following their question section.

Evans: “This election is critical for Orem’s future. Orem is consistently ranked as one of the beat run cities in the country. As Mayor, I’m going to keep us the best.”

“We need a strong economy and economic development to continue to collect sales tax revenue, much of which comes from non-Orem residents. This keeps our property taxes low and allows us to pay our public safety employees a competitive wage and keep our parks well maintained.”

“I’m optimistic about Orem’s future. I think Orem is a great place to live and every resident should feel welcomed.”

Young: “I have talked with countless Orem residents during the course of this campaign and it is clear that people are seeking a new way of doing things. We need a mayor with a fresh perspective who will listen, protect our family neighborhoods, promote small business and carefully manage your hard-earned tax dollars.”

“You have an important choice this election. We can go down the same old path or we can protect the things we love and make our home even better.  My name is Dave Young, I’m running to move Orem Forward Responsibly as your next Mayor and I’m asking for your vote!”

Support statements

The Daily Herald has allowed for comment from an individual who supports each candidate below:

Murray Low, chairman of the Southwest Orem Neighborhood Association in support of Dave Young said, “The difference between Jim Evans and Dave Young is their view on how Orem is run. Jim believes it is just fine and may need some tweaking here and there. He appears much less likely to lead out on making big changes. Dave believes the city needs to change the way it is doing things. SWONA’s experience is more closely aligned with the need for the city to fundamentally examine and change its approach.”

“When we have shared concerns with city leaders, they get defensive and attack us rather than acknowledge the issues we face and/or create a proper response. Despite continued feedback to the city about this, this pattern has persisted for 6 years. We need a city government that focuses on taking action instead of shooting the messenger. It’s frustrating to Orem citizens, and just as important, it creates an unhealthy internal work environment. We want a city that welcomes input from its citizens on how to make things better. Dave Young will work to change this dynamic in how our city is led.”

Mark Seastrand, former city councilman in support of Jim Evans said, “When I cast my vote I try to find candidates that reflect my values and their positions on important issues. I like to see what they’ve done, where they’ve served, and what or who they’ve supported in the past. I try to get past the words they say in a campaign and see the actions they have taken in real life. I look for honesty, job experience, the ability to work with a team, is comfortable at public speaking and has a deep understanding of the key issues.”

“What are those key issues? The four that are critical these next few years include transportation options, neighborhood preservation and affordable housing, public safety, and a strong economy. Jim has the right position on all of these areas. He supports looking at all transportation options. He supports protecting neighborhoods and the strategic development of affordable housing in the right place. He has always been a strong voice and endorsed by public safety. He sees the need for all kinds of businesses, big and small, and has been involved over the years to attract and retain the key components to a thriving economy. There is a reason Orem is so highly ranked as the best place to live, to do business, and to raise a family, it’s because people like Jim have been successfully working on these issues for years.”

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