Grand County Council Member Greg Halliday, the incumbent from District 4, will face challenger Trisha Hedin, director of Arches Education Center, in this November’s general election. Halliday is the only incumbent facing a challenge in this year’s election. Hedin teaches at Utah State University-Moab and facilitates concurrent enrollment for high schoolers taking college-level classes at the university.
Last week, the other two candidates vying for a challenged council seat, Kevin Walker and Stephen Stocks for the At Large seat currently held by Curtis Wells, answered the same three questions posed this week to Hedin and Halliday.
T-I: What are the top two issues the county currently faces that you would hope to address during your tenure?
Halliday: It is impossible to ignore the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent budget shortfall. These two issues will impact our county for years to come. The challenge will be how to balance health and economic needs, to keep our residents safe within the constraints of state directives and support for our frontline workers.
We need to responsibly and compassionately address the upcoming budget shortfall. This means looking for other sources of revenue coming from the state and or federal governments. It means being willing to listen to new ideas and to explore more diversity within the county. The needs of tourists should not supersede the needs of the residents.
Hedin: To me the top two issues facing our county is one, how to deal with continual growth yet maintain the qualities of the community and environment that we feel is of value and two, making sure that the members of our community are able to prosper.
Let me elaborate. To me, Grand County has absolutely spectacular qualities that we all hope to preserve, for not only our generation, but generations to come. The environment is one of uniqueness and fragility so we must be diligent in our conservation of its attributes. The reality is, we all spend a great amount of time in the out of doors and my hope is that we keep the environment that we all treasure intact. I also feel that our community is one of extreme cultural diversity and quirkiness. I think we must keep growth in check to maintain that small-town feel that we all value.
I feel that it is imperative that the members of our community prosper. Prosperity to me means that people have affordable housing, that their children have the opportunity to attend schools that are well-funded and administered, that citizens have the opportunity to expand on their education beyond high school (university and vocational training) and that individuals are paid a living wage.
T-I: What makes you qualified to represent Grand County residents on the county council?
Hedin: I don’t necessarily feel that there are specific qualifications that any one person can bring to any one position; what I believe people bring to the table is the ability to work hard and passion about the cause; that is what I bring.
I have given huge portions of my life to, one, the communities in which I live, and two, the causes in which I believe. I have been on endless boards and held leadership positions supporting the causes that I’m passionate about. These range from being the Regional Advisory Council chair for the Utah Division of Wildlife, to the president of the Friends of Indian Creek.
I believe in being in the arena for one’s cause, not standing on the sidelines, criticizing those who are.
Halliday: As the incumbent, I am familiar with the people and workings in the local government and have established relationships within the State. I am a retired veteran with 34 years of service. I have lived in Castle Valley for 15 years and served as the road manager for six years. Currently I am a member of the Museum Board, Thompson Water Board, Thompson Fire District, Conservation District, Local Emergency Preparedness Committee, Transportation Service District and the Catastrophic Fire Advisory Group.
I am independent of political parties and have no conflicts of interests. I try hard to see all sides of a matter before making a decision. I do listen and I want to thank all of you who called and wrote all those emails. They do help. I try to read everything; your opinions matter.
T-I: What are your thoughts on the reopening process that Grand County is currently undergoing courtesy of the health order from the Southeast Utah Health Department? Is the county reopening too fast? Too slow? Are enough people wearing masks and doing social distancing?
Halliday: This is a time for extreme caution, not emotional decisions. Due to state directives, we have limited influence on visitors. However, we can take protective measures for ourselves and families. I see wearing a mask as a sign of respect for others; practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and proper hand washing — regardless of what visitors do — is taking proactive personal measures and sends the proper message.
I understand what needs to be done in emergency situations. I spent 16 years training with an evacuation hospital as an Army medic and practical nurse. I was the senior enlisted advisor to the Army National Guard Surgeon General and an Inspector General at the Pentagon. I was part of the Castle Valley Hazard Mitigation Committee and am a member of the Castle Valley Fire Department.
I am a cautious decision maker and know how to make hard decisions. The challenges ahead call for experience and a willingness to serve. I plan on meeting that challenge.
Hedin: I feel that it is imperative to keep our community safe and to honor the health care workers here in Grand County. That being said, I think it is of utmost importance that we are following procedures that will flatten the curve of COVID so that our health care systems are not overwhelmed here. The reality is, a virus will pass through a population, but can we allow it to move through in a manner that is manageable?
That being said, I think it is also of utmost importance to get our economy back on its feet and provide the services needed by our community. Hopefully, we can open up slowly so that businesses are up and running, people are working, people are receiving an education, but at the same time keeping people safe to the best of our ability.
I think that, in the end, our government needs to provide more effective and efficient testing, with the ability to provide adequate contact tracing to aid in our reopening. These are unchartered waters that I believe we will all need to navigate not only in the near future, but with worldwide pandemics to come.