Morgan County Council at-large candidates Roland Haslam and Clay Ivan Rich faced off in a debate hosted last week by both the Morgan County Republican and Constitution Party and moderated by Utah State Auditor John Dougall.
Haslam and Rich will join Morgan County Council uncontested incumbents Robert Kilmer (District 3) and Daryl Ballantyne (District 4) on the November ballot. Councilman Logan Wilde will step down in January in his bid for a state legislative seat.
Both Haslam and Rich have served on the Morgan County Planning Commission, as well as serving as the commission’s chairman. They grew up knowing each other, and both admit either candidate would do well serving on the county council.
Haslam said he would only support Mountain Green having their own planning commission if the area was first incorporated as a city. “Until then,” he said, “the county doesn’t need to be divided.”
Rich said he favors Mountain Green having its own planning commission to plan its town center and urban/commercial areas. He said he has consulted with an attorney exploring the possibility of Mountain Green having its own planning commission. “Mountain Green feels disenfranchised,” Rich said.
To generate new tax resources for the county, Rich would like to explore the possibility of “expensive second homes” in recreational areas such as Round Valley, East Canyon and Snowbasin. “Recreational tax revenue is not 400 to 500 bicyclists in spandex every weekend,” Rich said.
Haslam said the county has been and needs to continue making Morgan more “business friendly” in order to generate new tax resources. “You need businesses,” he told the group gathered at Deb’s Spicy Pie.
Both candidates said they wouldn’t oppose gravel pits in Morgan County.
“Unless we are ready to lock the gates (to future growth), gravel pits are an essential part of this community,” Haslam said.
“I don’t have an opinion on the matter,” Rich said. “If they go through the process, they are entitled to their property rights. The time to oppose (a gravel pit) is not after they have been granted a property right.”
While Haslam admitted he would rather see the county stay rural, he said there is nothing the Morgan County Council can do to stop new subdivisions from being built. “They have rights, and there is nothing we can do if they follow the ordinances,” Haslam said.
“How anyone feels is not to be considered,” Rich said. “I support the general plan” with its public hearings, “that says the majority of growth should happen in the city and village centers, similar to development in the last 100 years.”
Rich said he also supported a pet crematorium in Mountain Green “if it is a permitted use provided by the general plan. If the plan prevents it, I am against it. I have voted for things I didn’t like for four years (on the planning commission). If it is a property right, I support it.”
Haslam said he was a member of the planning commission that advised the Morgan County Council against approving the pet crematorium. “But the council approved it, and I have to support the county council,” Haslam said.
To become more business friendly, the county needs to follow the general plan and shorten the process so applicants can have a quick yes, no and explanation, Rich said. “It’s the people, not the county, that need to be more business friendly.”
Haslam said the county is in the process of attempting to become more business friendly by streamlining application processes and making “less hoops to jump through on the county level.”
Halsam, an excavation contractor, said that a county council member is not going to please everyone, but should “look out for the benefit of the community as a whole. When we don’t follow the rules, we get in trouble. We need to follow land use rules and laws.”
Rich—an accountant experienced in finance, human resources, budgets, credit and collection—said the county should hold meetings as often as possible at times convenient to their constituents. “I am not of the opinion that people should get everything they want, but that they should have what they are entitled to. I believe in property rights.”
In conclusion, Haslam said holding public office is a thankless job. “We are an entire county with many lifestyles. We need a happy mix.”
“I am honest and work hard. I will give you a straight answer. I don’t like committee and board appointments. The county needs to take better care of county employees,” Rich said. “The county should develop more culture like a blue grass festival.”