The Moab Sun News invited candidates in the primary election for the Grand County Council’s open District 3 seat to answer a series of questions pertaining to their experience and their stance on the county’s most important issues.
Mail-in voting has begun and 1,277 ballots have been sent out to registered voters in precints 5 and 11. Of the ballots, 246 have already been returned, as of Tuesday, June 3. Ballots still to be returned must be postmarked by June 23. Voters may also return their ballots in person at the Grand County Clerk’s office until 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, or from 7 to 8 p.m. on Election Day, which is Tuesday, June 24.
1. Name, family status, educational background, occupation, years in Moab?
Pogue: My name is Russell S. Pogue, College degree from the University of Maryland, Supervisor with UDOT’s materials division. Born and raised here in Moab, retired in 2005 as a military officer, I continued to maintain my Utah residency during my military career.
Hawks: I am Jaylyn Hawks, married to Steve Hawks for 33 years. We have six children. I have a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and a master’s degree in sociology, both from Brigham Young University. I recently stepped down from my six-year position as executive director of Seekhaven (the local domestic violence shelter and resource center). In my current position, I do grant writing and community relations work. I am originally from Salt Lake City; Steve has relatives going back four generations to the earliest settlers of Moab through both maternal and paternal family lines. We bought our home here in 1997 and I am proud to call Moab my hometown.
Torres: My name is Manuel Tony Torres, I have one year of college, plus four years on CEU Board of Trustees and I am a masonry contractor. I have been in Moab for 43 years.
2. Describe any previous public service or community involvement?
Pogue: I served as chair for Habitat of Humanity in western Oregon while in Astoria, Ore., veteran’s advisor the Grand County Council, treasurer for the Grand County Transportation Special Service District and vice chairman for the Grand County Board of Adjustments.
Hawks: I have served on numerous boards and committees including the Homeless Coordinating Committee for Grand County, HMK and Grand County Middle School Community Councils, Utah Domestic Violence Council, Grand County Domestic Violence Coalition, and the Children’s Justice Center Board. I was the co-producer and music director for two original musical comedies that benefited the Star Hall renovation project.
Torres: I spent four years on the CEU Board of Trustees, eight on the State Building Board, three and counting on the State Privitization Board. I was a County Commissioner for three years, the Hospital Board for three years, The City Recreation Board for seven years and counting; And I coached Grand County High School Golf for 19 years, as well as many church callings.
3. What do you think of the job the current county council is doing?
Pogue: I think that the present Grand County Council has a lot of very hard decisions to make. I know that they will communicate and evaluate each issue and make the best possible decision as a team.
Hawks: Current members of the council work hard to serve our diverse community. This is often a thankless job and one which lends itself to ‘armchair quarterbacking’ by the many different factions. I would like to channel those voices into a more cooperative, collaborative energy.
Torres: I think at the moment they are doing a fine job and going the right direction.
4. What are your primary concerns for Grand County’s future?
Pogue: Grand County’s future is a balance of tourism and economic stability. We have to accommodate the visitors and provide an environment for them to enjoy. We also have to provide for the citizens here in Grand County, both economically and sustainably.
Hawks: One concern I have is the building cohesiveness among County departments. From my admittedly limited perspective, it seems that cooperation and support between departments may be lacking. I would like to encourage less protection of ‘turfs’ and more collaboration and working to build from a common grounding. Another concern is fiscal health. I would like to find funding sources that are a good fit with our community needs, budget carefully, and build a robust rainy day fund.
Torres: The growth of County government and land-use issues.
5. As part of Congressman Bishop’s public-lands process, three alternatives maps were created designating the future possible uses of public lands in Grand County. If you had to choose one of the alternatives, which one would you choose No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3? (No. 1 allowed for the most extractive development and no new wilderness. No. 3 allowed the smallest amount of extractive industry and the most wilderness. No. 2 was somewhere in between No. 1 and No. 3)
Pogue: I have reviewed all three public land proposals, in-fact I was one of the first in Grand County to see the proposals, due to my service to the Transportation Special Service District. I would choose option No. 2, because it provides for more wilderness and recreation area with a balance for extractive development. However, before I was to commit to any of the options, I would first want to see what the impact studies reveal.
Hawks: If I were being pressed for a decision today, it would be No. 2. However, I will qualify that by saying that since I don’t have to decide today, I would: A) take time to listen openly and fairly to the vast array of views in our community before the decision is made; B) make every effort to obtain the best, most reliable information regarding economic impact; and C) find the most accurate material that highlights the potential impacts on our lifestyle, our health, and our future here in the Moab area.
Torres: No. 2.
6. Some people in Grand County oppose all extractive industries anywhere in the county. Some people want no wilderness at all. How can the county council balance the diverse desires of residents, and promote competing land uses in a way that strengthens our economy and preserves our landscapes? OR, should we not aim for balance, should we instead strongly support one side of the land use issue over the other?
Pogue: There has to be some middle ground when it comes to wilderness and extractive industries. Really the groups need to sit down and discuss the issues and come to some kind of equable decision.
Hawks: I am an advocate for collaborative land use that protects our health, our economy, and our future. Listening to the citizens voice concerns at the recent public meeting regarding the three maps plans made very plain to me the polarized positions that many in the community are taking. Effective communication, eliminating scare-tactic information, and finding common ground for all of us are basic starting points in resolving this divisive issue.
Torres: Our county supports tourism so we need to have open land-use in order to accommodate the people who come to our area.
7. Right now, Grand County donates some of its Payment in Lieu of Tax money to the Grand County School District. In the future, should the county continue these donations, and if so, should the donations be increased or decreased?
Pogue: Education should be first concern on everyone’s mind. If the school district needs additional funding to support the education of our children, then let’s support it. I am a firm believer in education and providing our student with the knowledge they need, so they can become our future.
Hawks: Our children, the future leaders of our society, benefit from talented and capable educators and supporting staff, who perform this service with seriously limited resources. I am in favor of, at the very least, continuing these donations while looking at the overall budgetary issues for a possible increase.
Torres: They should continue the donations at the same amount.
8. With the expansion of oil and gas activity by Fidelity Exploration and the plans by Anadarko, county tax and mineral lease revenues are likely to increase in future years. What should the county do with that increased funding?
Pogue: Presently the mineral lease revenue can only be used for Special Service Districts and there are only a few of them. The Recreation District, Solid Waste District, Transportation District and the Health Care District. I would like to see changes in the legislature allowing this revenue to be used by other entities within Grand County.
Hawks: A top priority with increased funding for me would be to design a savings plan to build a healthy ‘rainy day fund’ and a ‘bricks and mortar’ fund.
Torres: The County already has a formula that appropriates Mineral Lease funding to Special Service Districts as funds increase each district should receive its share.
9. Do you have any thoughts on what might be the best use for the remediated tailings land?
Pogue: The tailings land is presently owned by the Department of Energy. They are in charge of the cleanup of the old Atlas Mill. Once completed, the DOE should conduct soil test to ensure that the area is deemed safe. At that time there should be a committee appointed to make recommendations on what to do with the property.
Hawks: I’m not sold on any particular idea. I will say that the decision would be made only after polling all stake holders and making certain that there would be ample capital/building and maintenance funds for the selected project so that taxpayers are not left ‘holding the bag.’
Torres: Yes, an 18-hole Golf Course.
10. What is a recent book you have read?
Pogue: Anything from Dean Koontz
Hawks: Fiction: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak; Non-fiction: “Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects” by Amy Stewart.
Torres: The Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon.
11. Tell us one thing people don’t usually know about you?
Pogue: I love to cook.
Hawks: I spent time volunteering in an orphanage in China for infants with special needs.
Torres: I am a fiscally very conservative.
12. What do you do for fun?
Pogue: I like take the travel-trailer and family to the mountain and relax.
Hawks: I hike, bike, read, and sing in a rock band.
Torres: Hunt, fish, play golf and support my grandchildren in all their activities.
Q & A with Russell Pogue, Jaylyn Hawks,and Manuel Torres