Each election season, The Times-Independent, as a service to Grand County voters, publishes position statements from candidates who are seeking seats on local elected government councils and boards. All local candidates, including those who are running unopposed, were invited to participate.
This year, on Nov. 7, local voters will elect two Moab City Council members. Candidates are also running for mayor in Moab.
Voting in Grand County will be done by mail-in ballot only. Mail-in ballots will be mailed starting Oct. 17 and registered voters in Moab will begin receiving them within the week.
The ballots will arrive in envelopes marked: “Official Election Material,” according to Grand County election officials. Ballots must be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 6, or returned to the Grand County Clerk’s office in person no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Registered voters who do not receive a ballot should immediately contact the Grand County Clerk’s office, either in person or by phone at 435-259-1321 to notify the county’s election officials of the problem.
Those who are interested in registering to vote still have time to do so. Voters may register in person at the Grand County Clerk’s office, 125 E. Center St., through Tuesday, Oct. 31. Voters may also register online through Oct. 31 at www.vote.utah.gov.
To register to vote, residents must have valid Utah identification, which includes a valid Utah driver’s license or a Utah identification card. Information about the documents needed in order to register to vote is available online at www.vote.utah.gov. Once the voter registration is completed, a ballot will be mailed to the voter.
For additional information about voting, visit www.vote.utah.gov, or contact the Grand County Clerk’s office at 435-259-1321.
The Times-Independent encourages all area residents to make their voices heard by casting their mail-in ballots.
City Council Candidates
Brian Ballard ~ Moab City Council
I moved to Moab with my family in 1980 to work as a police officer. I found additional work as a builder and started my own business, Grand Valley Construction. Over the years my work has included building homes, developing a retreat on the La Sal Mountains and working as an organic farmer. I have 10 children and 15 grandchildren; most of them live in Moab.
My platform is common sense and responsibility. I believe I speak for the greater population that the way that the city has hired and fired personnel has cost our taxpayers an untold amount of damages. I will work hard for you to create an atmosphere of production, rather than to pursue a select political agenda. Moab needs higher density rentals and smaller homes that would create more affordable housing for residents.
The City of Moab can expedite zoning changes and applications that will allow the private sector to make this happen. Taxpayer- funded projects are not the solution to our housing issues. We have stewardship as a city council to make sure we are dedicating funds to make Moab a great place to live and visit. We need to monitor and not waste taxpayer money on special interests.
Tourism has been a great boom for our economy, but we need to continue to diversify and support small businesses. The City of Moab should be encouraging business development, rather than creating obstacles based on political agenda. Our city needs to focus on public safety, as well as plan and implement systemic improvements of our roads and waterlines, many of which are over 50-60 years old and need to be replaced.
We need to continue to address current needs and anticipated growth by building a fourth water tank.
Moab is my home. I’ve seen many changes over the last few decades. I want to contribute to a stable economy and community that will allow our young people to grow and families to flourish. I am willing to put in the time and effort to serve the residents of Moab.
Mike Duncan ~ Moab City Council
I’m a retired engineer. I grew up in Texas, earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Colorado, then built science instruments for the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Ball Aerospace. My wife Bonnie, a SLC native, and I moved here 15 years ago.
I served eight years on Grand County Planning Commission including a stint as chair. I’m on the Moab Irrigation and Moab City Water Advisory boards, serve on Moab Poets and Writers' board and play music for seniors at Canyonlands Care Center. I’m a math tutor at USU and volunteer many times over the years.
I’m delighted to have the opportunity to give back to the community my wife and I have come to love. I’ve always been interested in making things work. I’m analytical and pragmatic. I like to responsibly take a long view of things. I have no vested interests or axe to grind. I’m just hoping to help guide the city sensibly through continuing growth years. See mikeformoabcitycouncil.org for more information.
Regarding affordable housing, I will encourage the council to more thoroughly evaluate rezone or conditional use applications from the viewpoint of housing the city’s residents need, not merely prioritizing the applicant’s request. Provide guidance and direction so planning staff can propose draft code that resolves conflicts between developments and existing neighborhoods with fewer unintended consequences.
As to budget planning, we should run notices in local newspapers to encourage citizen participation before budget commitments are made. Keep controversial questions visible. Keep salaries competitive but not excessive.
As to diversification of Moab’s economy, we should keep the council involved with USU expansion, which provides a better-educated workforce and will spawn new business and employment opportunities. The city could participate in a private/public partnership in suitably located county solar energy farms to provide quality jobs during construction and operation. Keep downtown businesses healthy and attractive to further position Moab as a business, cultural and intellectual destination.
We should keep the new sewer plant on schedule. Replace old water/sewer pipes. Repave badly tarred city streets. If USU commitment is made, proceed with street/utility work. Plan growth compatible with our limited water resources. Resolve new water tank conflicts and get it built.
Karen Guzman-Newton ~ Moab City Council
My name is Karen Guzman-Newton. My husband Scott and I own Poison Spider Bicycles. We have lived in Moab for over 20 years and have two children, a senior at GCHS and a 5th grader.
I’m passionate about creating a healthy community for all of us: children, families, old-timers, newcomers and visitors. This includes safe schools that are free of drugs and bullying, and where education is valued; housing security for families and local employees; supporting our public works and public safety departments so that we are up-to-date, staffed, sustainable, and prepared for the future.
To address the issue of affordable housing in Moab, I would push to create incentives for developers to construct housing for local residents that make “too much” money for assistance but “not enough” to afford the housing that is constructed for our second home-owning, real estate market. We also desperately need apartments and we need to find a compromise between homeowners and high-density developments.
As a business owner I have extensive experience working with budgets. I want to balance revenue and payables so we can do what is needed for providing services and putting money aside for rainy day funds. Currently, because of funds from transient room taxes, the city is financially strong, however it is imperative to fix and replace essential infrastructure that need updating.
Sewer lines throughout the city are old and at capacity and they need replacing. Our roads are some of the worst in the state; it is time to start fixing them. Left hand turn signals on Main Street would also be a welcomed upgrade.
Locally owned businesses are the backbone of Moab. I want to take advantage of Moab’s entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit. Encouraging the development of small businesses and allowing the creation of commercial space to do so would be more beneficial than continually succumbing to the development of more hotels.
I believe the city must improve planning and zoning in our commercial districts to ensure critical services and retail are supported. When properties are developed without consideration of keeping local businesses in town we are failing our community.
There are many retail and service opportunities that are still untapped in Moab. We are capable of building a thriving economy that is long lasting for all of our citizens.
Cassie Patterson ~ Moab City Council
My name is Cassie Patterson and I have lived in Moab since April 2009. I come from a long line of Moab residents and am proud to once again call this town my home. I was born in Moab and spent many summers visiting family in the area while growing up. I am the mother of two amazing little boys, 8 and 2. After completing high school, I attended community college for two years in Southern California before moving to San Francisco where I earned an associates degree in culinary arts. I did an internship in Texas at a restaurant owned by the official chef of the Dallas Cowboys (he also beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef). For most of my life, I have had an interest in politics as well as a strong desire to help people. I am confident that I may put those interests together to make Moab a better place.
I am running for Moab City Council to restore balance, accountability, and transparency to Moab and its government. Because the community is currently feeling the effects of our city leaning too far to the left, I’m excited to bring common sense and conservatism to the board.
I will support high density where opportunities exist and/or arise. I’m also a strong advocate of development incentives and business-friendly policies. The city council has got to get the city out of the way of high-density developments before it pursues assured housing policies. I’ve counted two high-density projects this year that were picked apart by council members that are simultaneously begging for solutions.
Streamlining the city budget to be more efficient, taxpayer friendly, and responsible is a top priority of mine. I’m also discouraged by the tax and spend behavior of the city. We’re creating high-paying jobs within the city at an alarming rate while simultaneously over-paying new hires. While we have the largest sales tax rate in the state of Utah, this is not something to be proud of if we’re only going to grow operating costs. We’re not just taxing the tourists; locals that pay our high sales tax rates would like to see a larger return than importing non-citizens to fill high-paying city jobs.
I would like to see more support for small businesses within city limits. Small business is our bread and butter in Moab and I will work consistently to make life easier for them as to create more jobs.
I’m disappointed that it took so long to address the sewage treatment plant issue. Our local leaders have been aware of the stress on that system for decades. While that issue is finally being addressed, the fact that it took so long shows a clear lack of fiscal prioritization in city hall. I also have an issue with the condition of our roads and the over-emphasis we’ve placed on bicycle paths. Our roads are embarrassing and it’s time we get serious about proper maintenance and paving and quit placing band-aids on our problems.
Emily Niehaus ~ Moab City Mayor
My name is Emily Niehaus, and I am running to be your next mayor of Moab.
I am a wife, a mother, an affordable housing advocate and professional, and I am an experienced businesswoman in Moab. I hold a master’s degree from Clemson University in applied sociology, serve on Moab’s Housing Task Force, and love to volunteer for local events and nonprofits.
Since 2010, I have been addressing one slice of Moab’s affordable housing pie in a professional capacity as the founding director of an affordable housing construction company. As mayor, I hope to address the full spectrum of our valley’s housing needs and ensure that Moab is an affordable place to live and work. I want to be of service to our community — and I am ready to do it on the other side of the desk at city hall.
As mayor, I can prioritize housing and other critical infrastructure and economic development work by connecting residents and business owners with resources, working with and supporting staff and council to clarify our city’s policies and procedures, and leading our community in developing a new vision for Moab that we produce together. Because these issues are complex, our next mayor must be an experienced developer and a creative problem solver.
I see challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles, and I am ready to work hard to solve our housing issues and encourage more economic diversification and infrastructure development … all of which are interconnected.
I want to be your next Mayor because I am passionate about bringing people together to solve problems. Right now our city needs an active, engaged, and professional leader.
I am committed to foster an accessible, welcoming, and respectful culture in city hall by ensuring that staff and council have the resources and support they need to be effective in their work. I am also committed to working with Grand County and San Juan County as a partner in the long-term management of our valley.
And, I am able to dedicate the time it takes to provide this needed leadership. We are better when we work together.
David Olsen ~ Moab City Mayor
My name is David Olsen, and I am running for Moab City Mayor.
I have extensive city government experience. I worked as the community development director for the City of Moab for more than 25 years. Prior to that I worked for the cities of Draper and Sandy on the Wasatch Front. I have a master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in city management from the University of Utah.
I want to improve Moab’s infrastructure, which includes: water, sewer, roads and sidewalks. I also want to execute the goals and recommendations of the recently approved Moab General Plan, the 2017 Moab Area Affordable Housing Plan and master plans that deal with infrastructure improvements.
Many of these infrastructure improvements are past due, and expensive. In my years as Moab’s community development director, I found ways to get the best deals possible to improve infrastructure for the City of Moab, and I would continue to do so as mayor. One of the first projects I would want to tackle is to submit the application I completed over two years ago for a new water tank, and include water line replacements to get a better deal.
My slogan is “Teamwork with Integrity.” Consensus building with integrity can lead to getting great things accomplished. However, consensus building without integrity, fairness, due process and transparency can lead to acrimony. It is easy to build consensus when you strategically involve people who agree with you; however, you can build consensus by operating with transparency and respecting the views of others. If elected, I will do my best to involve fair representation and build trust.
I want to be the mayor of Moab because I know I can do a great deal of good for this community with my education, experience and ability to work with others. The plans and projects I coordinated in the past were good for Moab.
Moab has a great future, and I would be honored to work with and represent the citizens of Moab as we continue to make this a great place to live and visit.