All across Utah, people will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the 2007 municipal election on Nov. 6.
In Orem, citizens will elect three city council members. Candidates Margaret Black, Carl Hernandez, Mark Seastrand, Tom Fifita Sitake, Brent Sumner and Michael J. Whimpey are all competing to fill the open seats on Orem’s city council.
Black, an incumbent who was appointed to the city council in January, said her greatest strength is her experience. She has held several positions in the Orem community over the past 29 years, including CERT coordinator; chairperson of Orem’s Orchard North Neighborhoods in Action and many positions on the PTA.
"I work very hard," Black said. "I will continue to listen and respond to citizens and to enhance our community."
Incumbent Mark Seastrand has served on the city council for almost two years. "I bring to the city council a solid business background," he said, adding that as an incumbent, "I’m very well up-to-speed on the issues." A longtime Orem resident, Seastrand said he understands the culture, values and history of the city. "I grew up in Orem," Seastrand said. "This is my home."
Brent Sumner, the adviser of The College Times and former publisher of the Orem-Geneva Times, is another lifelong Orem resident. He served on the Chamber Board of Directors for 12 years and has held many positions in the community. Sumner said he has the time to serve on the city council, something he said is a "big factor."
"I’m excited to serve," Sumner said.
Candidate Tom Fifita Sitake said he has a unique perspective, diversity and ability to relate to others. Sitake was born in the Pacific Islands, and his father was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Orem’s predominant religion. He said when people, especially minorities, approach him with concerns, he can see where they are coming from.
"I can relate to people, and I can get things done," Sitake said.
Carl Hernandez said he particularly favors a dialogue between the future UVU, the business community, the art community and other entities within Orem that would create a strategic plan for education and job opportunities. Hernandez, who is the assistant dean of Brigham Young University’s law school, said he has "the ability to build consensus with different groups, to bring about effective and positive changes in the community."
Michael J. Whimpey, a project manager for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District is the sixth and final candidate in this year’s election. "My background in civil engineering helps me to understand a lot of issues our community is facing," Whimpey said, adding that he is running to represent and protect the neighborhood and its quality of life.
The candidates said it is important that students vote in the election.
"The city council is the political arena where the rubber meets the road," Black said. "That directly affects your life."
According to Seastrand, local government issues that impact student lives include the cost of living in Orem, housing and transportation. "All those are pretty critical," he said.
Whimpey said the housing issue is, "Especially true with UVSC because there isn’t as much housing adjacent to campus."
Hernandez said this election is an especially crucial one for UVSC students. "The future of Utah Valley University is at stake here with respect to the relationship it has with the city and with the [Community of Engaged Learners]," Hernandez said. "This is an important crossroads for Utah Valley University students."
Sumner also said that this is an important time for UVSC and the community. "The city and the university need to work together on various issues." Sumner said students and faculty at UVSC need to be aware of what is going on in the community, as the two will become more intertwined in the future.
Sitake said that often, only a small number of people vote. This minority of people makes the decisions for the majority of the people, he said.
"It’s so important that [students] vote," said Hernandez.
The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at designated polling locations. For more information about the candidates and links to the candidates’ Web sites, students can visit www.orem.org
For more about the election, students can obtain voter information pamphlets on newsstands at UVSC, or visit www.elections.utah.gov