County council hopefuls debate Initiative 1

By By Mark Thomas

By Mark Thomas

Republican County Council member Steve Harmsen met Democratic candidate Jenny Wilson in a public discussion yesterday at the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

The candidates detailed their personal histories then fielded questions concerning their positions on current issues.

Wilson described her experience and qualifications telling about her time campaigning for light rail in Utah while working as Chief of Staff for Congressman Bill Orton. She also reflected on her time at Harvard gaining a master’s in public administration.

Harmsen is seeking re-election after serving his first term on the council. He spoke of being the owner of a successful business and of his previous political experience. He describes himself as the lowest-paid council member, having refused all salary increases since he took office four years ago.

When asked about his position on the Open Space initiative-Initiative 1-Harmsen came out in opposition saying that city government, rather than state government, should define when and how open spaces are created.

Harmsen stated, “I think that the people of Riverton need to be able to make the decisions that the people in Riverton want to make.”

Wilson supports Initiative 1 and said that people are not always aware of the city boundaries along the Wasatch Front and it is therefore up to the county and state to manage growth and the open space in Utah’s communities.

Regarding the recent misappropriations of funds in the county government, Harmsen said the problem is with only a small percentage of county employees. He cites his own fiscal responsibility and the fact that no one on the council was indicted in the investigations. Concerning the recent scandals, Wilson said, “I think it’s pretty hard to say [this] government isn’t broken.” She said she is looking to shake up the current county government structure. Both candidates seek a county council that looks beyond partisan politics to reach the community, they said.

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