Five candidates offer differing views on growth, role of gov’t
With Donald Trump and Ben Carson nabbing national headlines national, imminent issues facing Orem have been hashed out by local candidates for City Council over the last several months. On Nov. 4, it all comes to a conclusion with the general election, after which three of the five contenders will be awarded seats.
The following is a rundown of the five candidates. More information on these candidates, as well as voting and registration information can be found at Election.Orem.Gov.
Incumbent Hans Andersen, a 45-year Orem resident with an agricultural background, is running on the platform of tax reduction.
“I don’t like taxes,” he said in a video posted to Orem City’s YouTube channel. “That’s one of the reasons I ran for City Council. I want to save you money on your taxes.”
He has cited small growth numbers against what he calls disproportionate tax increases and says that should stop. He also is against offering businesses and new residents incentives for moving to Orem, saying that they should “pay their own way”, though he believes keeping property taxes low will continue to attract them.
Debby Lauret, the only female candidate, said her educated background and history of working with economic development qualifies her for a seat. She obtained a Master’s degree at BYU and says she now has the time and education to fulfill a role on the council.
“I have that great expertise in the area (of business) to help bring businesses to Orem,” she said. “I have a strong business background, whether it’s government accounting, budgeting, tax reduction, all these things. I can hit the ground running.”
She believes a master transportation plan and better housing diversity are crucial to Orem’s future.
Sam Lentz, the youngest of the candidates, said he has been hesitant to enter the realm of politics but decided to throw his hat in the ring as he became more educated about the issues facing Orem.
“To achieve our goals here, it’s important that we have the right leadership and the right strategy,” he said. “It’s not enough to simply point out when things are going wrong. We need capable leaders who are dedicated to creating solutions that will last.”
He says economic development “the focal point for (his) vision for Orem” and that if we fail to plan properly for new apartment and dorm-style housing, increased traffic congestion and crime risk are sure to follow.
Incumbent Mark Seastrand, who was the top vote-getter in the primary election, said he’s running again because he sees important issues associated with growth heading Orem’s way and wants to help facilitate.
“I’m a problem-solver by nature,” he said. “My education, my work experience and my working on the city council gives me a pretty big handle for what’s going on, not only currently, but for the challenges that are coming our way, as well as the opportunities that look very promising.
He said managing the growth of students and providing future jobs in the area for those who graduate are among the most imminent issues, as well as preserving what is already good about the community.
Claude Richards, also a longtime citizen of Utah County, has quoted founding fathers and Ronald Reagan throughout his campaign while encouraging smaller government regulations.
“It’s very important as we manage this growth that we seek to touch the lives of our citizens as lightly, as little as we can. Leave them as much leeway to do their thing, and at the same time coordinate our efforts to provide the services that they need,” he said.
Richards is pro-tax incentives for businesses but doesn’t believe we should give incentives to larger incoming businesses exclusively, but offer the same incentives to small businesses.