2018 voter guide

Grand County

Editor’s Note: Grand County’s vote-by-mail general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Contested county races include two candidates vying for one seat on the Grand County School Board in District 4; two candidates for the office of Grand County Attorney; and two candidates for Grand County Council at-large.

Grand County will be mailing out ballots for the 2018 General Election in the middle of October. 

If you have not received a ballot by Oct. 29, contact the Grand County Clerk’s office at 435-259-1321.

A ballot box will be put up in the Grand County Clerk’s office, at 125 E. Center St., to drop ballots off, or ballots can be mailed back to the clerk’s office.

Mailed ballots need to be postmarked by Nov. 5 to count in the 2018 General Election.

Residents may register to vote online or in-person at the county clerk’s office up to seven days before the election. 

The deadline to register online or in-person to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Local candidates featured in this election guide include two candidates for Grand County Attorney, Stephen J. Stocks and Christina Sloan; candidate for Grand County Surveyor (unopposed), Lucas Blake; candidate for Grand County Clerk/Auditor (unopposed), Chris Baird; candidate for Grand County Council District 1 (unopposed), Terry Morse; Candidate for Grand County Council District 3 (unopposed), Jaylyn Hawks; two candidates for Grand County School Board District 4, Ryan Anderson and Kathy Williams; candidate for Grand County School Board District 1, Britnie Ellis; and candidate for Grand County Council (at-large) Mary McGann.

CANDIDATES FOR GRAND COUNTY ATTORNEY

Stephen J. Stocks

Stephen J. Stocks, candidate for Grand County Attorney 

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

I am Stephen J. Stocks, a multiple-generation Moabite. I work as an attorney, and I have lived in Grand County on/off for the past 28 years. I have established my own law firm in Moab, Utah, and have worked here since.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

In the role of attorney, I have represented, and currently represent, individuals on behalf of the Utah Legal Services. These are individuals that have suffered from domestic violence or do not have the funds necessary to hire their own attorney. I have assisted victims of domestic violence to obtain protective orders and divorces against their abusers. This has allowed me to deal with victims firsthand and assist them with the difficulties of the justice system.

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

I believe we should keep local prosecution a local matter. We should not seek to ‘hire out’ this position as it deals directly with the most critical part of the office. Also, if anyone has attempted to hire an employee, they know how difficult it can be to hire in Moab. Even more difficult would be to seek someone to relocate here in Moab, due to the area’s unique costs.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

My biggest strength is my dedication and passion for my career. I love being an attorney, learning new things, representing clients and communicating with others. My biggest weakness is my age.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I speak Spanish and Italian because I have lived in Peru and Italy.

What do you do for fun?

Learning languages, travel and reading.

What are your top priorities or goals?

My biggest goals for the office are: (1) that victims are adequately represented; (2) that the accused are held accountable for their crimes; and, (3) that individuals are able to communicate with their county attorney. If these goals are achieved, I believe that my time in office would be a success.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

The Grand County Attorney represents both the Grand County Council and the state of Utah in the prosecution of crime. For criminal prosecution, the biggest issue would be fairly resolving criminal cases for all parties involved. For the Grand County Council matters, the biggest issues would be resolving problems with the council and the opposing individual citizens’ needs/desires. This is due to the conflicts, or lawsuits, that arise from what the council wants and what individual citizens want.

Anything else you want to say to voters?

I look forward to the opportunity to talk to each member of the community. My personal phone number is 435-210-1952. Email: StephenJayStocks (at) gmail (dot) com. Online: www.votestocks.com. You can also find my political page on Facebook. I encourage individuals to reach out to me directly on any topic!

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County Attorney deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future?

Communication. Currently, in the news, we have seen many of the problems being aired in public. We need to set aside egos and communicate with each other. The Grand County Attorney’s Office deals with cases that impact the very lives of individuals. This should be dealt with fairly and professionally. How do we change this? Building mutual communication between all parties. Involving as many professional organizations as possible. This would include the sheriff’s office, Moab Police Department, Grand County Attorney’s Office and victim advocate agencies.

The Grand County Attorney provides legal advice and services on behalf of the county. What are your thoughts on House Bill 224 and what do you see as the county attorney’s role in the county change of government process?

The Grand County Attorney’s role in the dealings with HB 224 is to provide legal advice and counsel to the Grand County Council. Due to this, it would not be appropriate to comment on this matter at this time.

Please tell us why you’re interested in serving as the Grand County Attorney.

I strongly believe a renewed focus on criminal prosecution is needed. We need to hold the accused accountable. We need to allow the victims support. We need a dedicated prosecutor. I want to be that person. Thank you for taking the time to read about the election!

Christina Sloan, candidate for Grand County Attorney 

Candidate for Grand County Attorney

Please introduce yourself. Where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

I am an attorney licensed in Utah and Colorado, with 17 years of practice with adversarial and transactional work. My husband and I have owned our home in Moab since 2003. I moved here full time in 2007, at which time I opened my law firm, The Sloan Law Firm. I grew up in north Georgia, in a small town very similar to Moab. I was valedictorian of my high school class and graduated from Tufts University with Phi Beta Kappa honors. I went to law school at the University of Colorado, during which time I fell in love with Moab.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

I have served on numerous local boards and commissions in the last decade, including the Moab Downtown Planning Group, Canyonlands Community Recycling, and WabiSabi. I have also provided hundreds of hours of pro bono and reduced fee services to numerous nonprofits in Moab, and I sponsor the Moab City Recreation programs and other nonprofit events each year. However, I am most proud of my work as the chair of the Moab Boulder Park project. I created, designed, fundraised and oversaw the construction of the Moab Boulder Park at Lions Park from approximately 2013 through 2015, which was a full-time, unpaid second job to which I dedicated thousands of hours for the benefit of local kids.

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

My main personal concern, which is not directly related to the county attorney’s office, is economic development and diversification.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

My biggest strength is that I have the requisite experience and relationships to lead the county attorney’s office. My biggest weakness is that I haven’t figured out how to clone myself. Ha.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

My lineage is full of creative and passionate people who effect change: writers, inventors and politicians. My maternal line also includes at least five generations of strong, well-educated women who challenged the status quo to thrive. My great-great-grandmother published books in the 1800s; my great-grandmother and grandmother were both college professors in the early 1900s through the 1940s; my mother has a PhD in math; and both of my sisters have MBAs.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy yoga, climbing, cooking, travel and time with family and friends outside of work.

What are your top priorities or goals?

My top priority is to increase the efficiency and efficacy of the Grand County Attorney’s Office.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

Arguably, the biggest issues facing Grand County residents are economic development and affordable housing, which are not directly related to the role of the county attorney. However, within the purview of the county attorney’s office, I believe the biggest issues are: 1) failure to meaningfully prosecute repeat offenders; 2) lack of information and communication for victims regarding the criminal justice system; 3) ineffective civil counsel for county staff and elected officials; and 4) inaccessibility of our county attorney.

Anything else you want to say to voters?

Vote!

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County Attorney deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future? 

Grand County residents want a county attorney who will effectively prosecute crime and protect victims; a county attorney who will support county staff and elected officials on a daily basis with civil support across departments; and a county attorney who will answer phone calls and speak on the record. I will use the $194,500 in the existing budget currently dedicated for contract attorneys to hire a full time deputy county attorney (as all other Utah counties of our size and budget have) to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and accessibility of the county attorney’s office.

The Grand County Attorney provides legal advice and services on behalf of the county. What are your thoughts on House Bill 224 and what do you see as the county attorney’s role in the county change of government process?

My personal thoughts on HB 224 are irrelevant as the county attorney’s office is nonpartisan. With that said, I am familiar and comfortable with HB 224. One of the county attorney’s most important duties this next term will be advising the county council and staff on how to move forward legally within the statutory framework created by the Utah Legislature. I am the only candidate with the civil expertise to assist the county with this important task.

Please tell us why you’re interested in serving as the Grand County Attorney.

The role of the county attorney’s office is big and diverse and important. I am the candidate with the most experience and the personal relationships to increase efficiency in the county attorney’s office, expand the county attorney’s involvement in civil matters, provide leadership regarding criminal policy and prosecutorial procedure, and improve reciprocal communication across county departments, between the city and county, and between the county and its residents.

CANDIDATE FOR GRAND COUNTY SURVEYOR (UNOPPOSED)

Lucas Blake

Lucas Blake, candidate for Grand County Surveyor (unopposed)

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

My name is Lucas Blake. I own Red Desert Land Surveying. I have lived in Moab for almost six years since we moved from a coal mine in Wyoming to work at Lisbon Valley Mining Company as a surveyor. I grew up in St. George, Utah, but when I married the love of my life Shellie, we moved to Salt Lake, where I began school at Weber State University to be a mechanical engineer. I was offered a job with a survey firm and fell in love it. I changed my training to surveying and was licensed as a land surveyor on Dec. 31, 2010.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

I have been active in scouting for a few years, I volunteer coach for Moab City Rec. and am currently HOA president for my community in Spanish Valley.

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

I grew up in St. George when it was a small town. I saw it grow very rapidly. Moab and Grand County are now seeing the same boom and I want to help get the infrastructure in place, so it doesn’t continue to be a hindrance to residents.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

I have a drive to work. No one has run for county surveyor in Grand County for 10 years. I have a big list of work to do and am qualified to do it.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have a shy personality, so the truth is there are probably a lot of things people don’t know about me. One thing I didn’t know about myself is that I am a good teacher. I get asked to teach a lot by the local LDS church we attend.

What do you do for fun?

I love to explore. Hiking, trail running, UTV riding, anything that takes me to new places.

What are your top priorities or goals?

To protect the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) and make survey records available to the public. In a PLSS state such as Utah, the original PLSS is not only the basis for the establishment and protection of property ownership and the other rights, it is also the very foundation and heart of the county’s ability to assess and collect the property taxes that fund many county services. We also know the PLSS is threatened on a daily basis by development and construction, and consequently, many of the public rights and functions of government are also at risk. Survey records need to be documented and available to protect historic property rights of the residents of the County. I plan to have many of these records available on the county website. We also will replace monuments of the PLSS that have been destroyed by development or lost for other reasons.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

Some counties within Utah do not fund a county surveyor function and are experiencing growth and development not seen before. Boundary disputes and other development-related issues in these counties have arisen due to the lack of investment in the very infrastructure that county surveyors are responsible to protect. It is a case of “you don’t know you have a problem until you have one.”

Grand County has not had a land surveyor in the past. What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that you think Grand County deals with on a regular basis that will be helped by having a surveyor? Please tell us why you’re interested in serving as the Grand County Surveyor. 

I own a local land survey company and experience every day the land issues in Grand County. I am normally not the type of person that would run for a public position, but I see every day why the PLSS needs to be protected. As a private business, I can’t justify charging a single client to protect this system. It needs to be protected as a public interest and that is why In Utah, the origins of the Office of the County Surveyor can be traced back to 1852, as one of the four original elected offices of county government. Elected offices were established to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. In those days and before, the location and protection of property boundaries along with water rights, law enforcement, and recording functions were an essential part of everyday life and survival. Those same rights and protections are no less important in today’s world.

CANDIDATE FOR GRAND COUNTY CLERK/AUDITOR (UNOPPOSED)

Chris Baird

Chris Baird, candidate for Grand County Clerk/Auditor (unopposed)

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

My name is Chris Baird. I went to school in the Ogden area. I am currently the Grand County Budget Officer and have lived in Grand County for almost 22 years.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

My previous public service includes: county council member, planning commissioner, and over two dozen other appointments to various boards and districts in Grand County. I have 12 years of experience in local public service.

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

My main concern for Grand County’s future centers on helping to run a modernized and efficient organization. Grand County is growing fast, and the demand for government services is increasing rapidly. The organization needs to evolve to meet those demands in a way that provides taxpayers with the services they expect at the lowest possible cost. A high cost of living is impacting the entire community and the Grand County organization is no exception. The clerk/auditor functions as the county’s Chief Financial Officer. And as such, it will be my duty to manage the county’s resources in a responsible and effective manner.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

My biggest strength is my experience and institutional knowledge of Grand County government. My biggest weakness, historically, has been working too much and not balancing my work life with my personal life (I plan to improve on that).

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

After over 10 years in the public eye, and having responded to this question twice before, probably nothing.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy exploring the desert.

What are your top priorities or goals?

My top priorities as clerk/auditor will be related to maintaining and improving Grand County’s financial position and using those resources to improve the lives of Grand County’s residents (as opposed to tourists). Unfortunately, local needs sometimes get lost in the rush to keep up with tourism. It will be my goal to focus Grand County’s resources on providing services to Grand County residents.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

Two of the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County are a rapidly escalating cost of living, and a degradation of quality of life associated with the impacts of a tourism-based economy. As clerk/auditor I won’t be able to solve these problems by myself. However, the management of fiscal resources dictates reality in an organization (and, consequently, a community). It will be my goal to prioritize the county’s resources toward mitigating the above issues.

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County Clerk/Auditor deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future?  

As a consolidated office, the statutory duties of clerk/auditor are numerous and diverse. These include: maintaining all records of the executive and legislative body and providing public access to those records; ensuring financial, statutory and policy compliance countywide (the auditor is the citizens’ elected “watchdog”); reconciling the treasurer’s bank statements, running fair and efficient local elections; establishing certified tax rates; issuing marriage, business, and other licenses; maintaining a record of the county’s finances; and, serving as the secretary of the legislative body (take minutes).  

In addition to the statutory duties above, the Grand County Clerk/Auditor functions as the county’s Chief Financial Officer. These duties include: budgeting; accounting (accounts receivable/payable, capital assets, etc.); grant and loan administration; payroll; insurance and risk management administration; and all other financial duties as they arise.

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of the clerk/auditor’s position is the breadth of knowledge required to fulfill all aspects of the job. There is no other position in the county that requires a more comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the organization’s operations. Luckily, I have years of experience with the organization, and as the current budget officer I have ample opportunity to train on the aspects I am unfamiliar with before taking office.

Aside from the challenge of learning the job, the single greatest current challenge is overcoming employee recruitment and retention problems stemming from a high cost of living and substandard wages. Overtime and repetitive training costs are a waste of taxpayer money. It is my goal to establish a budget that takes care of the county employees while also being fair to the taxpayers.

The Grand County Council recently passed a lawful resolution (abiding by state law) to initiate a process for changing the county’s form of government in light of House Bill 224. What are your thoughts on the county change of government and House Bill 224 and what do you see the clerk’s role as being in this process? 

HB 224 was unfortunately written with a logic error. It requires the council to initiate the process to change its form of government, and at the same time requires the clerk to certify a citizen petition for the same. The clerk’s role is to certify legally submitted petitions, and to include any legitimate ballot initiatives in their respective elections. In this case, regardless of who initiated the process, the ballot initiative and its respective election would be the same. If the ballot initiative passes, the first step will be to form a selection committee, and it is this committee that will be affected by a determination of the initiating party. However, the facilitation of the selection committee appears to be the responsibility of the legislative body, and so it appears that the clerk plays no role in making that decision. The selection committee will decide on the members of the study committee, who will then go through the process of drafting a proposed form of government. Once the proposed form of government is ready to be submitted to the voters, the clerk will be responsible to place that question on the ballot of the next general election.

Please tell us why you’re interested in serving as the Grand County Clerk/Auditor. 

I have a great deal of respect for the employees and citizens of Grand County. I feel that I have a natural aptitude for the duties of the clerk/auditor, and would like to apply my talents in a way that makes a positive difference for the employees and citizens of Grand County.

Candidate for Grand County Council District 1

Terry Morse

Terry Morse, candidate for Grand County Council District 1 (unopposed)

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

Terry Morse. Attended Middlebury College, Middlebury Vermont. B.A. in Geology; minor in American Literature. Retired. Build custom furniture. Built home here in 2000. Retired here starting in 2002.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

While living in Colorado, I served for seven years on Planning Commission. Chairperson for five years. Served on Community Foundation responsible for raising funds for all the nonprofits in our area for seven years. President for five years. After moving to Moab, with Leticia Bentley, I started the Moab Valley Multicultural Center. I had an important role in helping the Moab fire department complete its city location.

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

Quality of life in the greater Moab area, which is irrevocably tied to water resources. We need to get a grip on what population densities our water resources will support now and 30 years from now. Affordable housing. Both city and county have a great start on dealing with the problem; however, it seems to me we could be more effective with a joint effort between the two entities.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

Strength: I’m goal-oriented and determined to get things done. Weakness: I have a low tolerance level for procrastination and wavering. It’s better to make a decision and run with it. If it turns out the decision needs changing, then we need to change it immediately to get the outcome we are seeking.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

If I told you that, then you would know it. Where is the mystery in that? Actually, I’m pretty much an open book. What you see is what you get.

What do you do for fun?

Family, cycling, hiking, staying fit, travel, writing, working in my woodshop, gardening, being with friends, et cetera. Loving life.

What are your top priorities or goals?

As far as the county council is concerned, my top priority is trying to help align the county and the city in respect to the future use of our water resources and what it means in terms of the impacts of any future development. It is something we just cannot afford to ignore.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

Although I have not spoken with all my constituents in District 1, I have been canvassing our neighborhoods. The main concerns I continue to hear are: 1. Over-development of hotels in the city, and the desire to curb or limit future development of hotels and nightly rental properties along the U.S. Highway 191 corridor. 2. Water resources both present and future. 3. Affordable housing. 4. Traffic congestion and noise attendant thereto. 5. Making USU-Moab a reality.

Anything else you want to say to voters?

As a community it is important to realize that we all will have to give a little to maintain our quality of life, our health, safety and welfare. Given what little experience I have gained from my recent appointment to the Grand County Council, I am more than impressed by how much is being done to help provide our citizens with the quality of life we enjoy in Grand County. Working conditions due to space restrictions, understaffing and underfunding are constant barriers to efficiency and productivity. This cannot continue if we are going to meet the needs of our citizens. If our local economy is going to continue to grow, it is clear that we will have to work hard to keep pace with the need for change in our provision for our county and city employees, the development and maintenance of our infrastructure and the providing of services both now and in the future. Doing so will demand being as realistic as possible in finding ways to fund the needs that provide for the maintenance of our quality of life.

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County Council deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future?

To answer this question effectively would take, I imagine, much more space than this publication has allotted for this article. However, the short answer is the Grand County Council deals directly or indirectly through its excellent department heads and employees with everything that makes Grand County function as a living human settlement. The future is now. Every decision made on the council level will impact the quality of life for our children and grandchildren. This makes it most important we deal with courage and determination in making decisions on issues such as water, affordable housing, population densities and sustainability of all the resources we have in Grand County.

The Grand County Council recently passed a lawful resolution (abiding by state law) to initiate a process for changing the county’s form of government in light of House Bill 224. What are your thoughts on the county change of government and House Bill 224? 

The HB 224 issue seems pretty straightforward to me. The state of Utah has mandated that we (Grand County) either form a study group to choose one of four forms of county government that the state has now mandated. If we do not vote “yes” to form this study group, then the state will choose what form of government we will have. There is a good deal of posturing and saber rattling going on about who should be on the study group and who is first in line to make citizen appointments. This, to me, is an indication of the immaturity that exists in our political system here and nationwide. We need to do what the majority of the people in the community want, not what power-seeking individuals tell us we should want. Forget the time-consuming, energy-wasting posturing and do what is right for the people. Let’s get on with it in the spirit of community.

Please tell us why you’re interested in serving on the Grand County Council.

Just possibly, I can add value to the Grand County Council by the mere weight of my past experience in growing up and through many of the problems facing us today. I have been called upon to serve and will do so to the best of my ability.

Candidate for Grand County Council District 3 (unopposed)

Jaylyn Hawks

Jaylyn Hawks, candidate for Grand County Council District 3 (unopposed)

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

I’m Jaylyn Hawks and Moab has been home for me and my family for the last 21 years. I was born and raised in the Salt Lake Valley, attended the University of Utah and finished a bachelor’s degree of Independent Studies at Brigham Young University. I completed a master’s degree in Sociology, also at BYU. I’ve enjoyed sharing 37 years of life with my husband Steve, and our six children. Our two grandchildren live in Cairo. I am a small business owner and I thoroughly enjoy working for myself.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

Perhaps my most distinct community involvement that makes me the right choice for the Grand County Council is my service on the council. For nearly four years, I’ve had the honor of serving as the Council representative for District 3. This has enabled me to sort through issues, listen to constituents, assess proposed solutions and learn how the whole system works. In addition, I have over 20 years of community leadership experience, including four years on the Moab Regional Hospital Board and 10 years as executive director of Seekhaven.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

My single biggest strength is my ability to see the big picture. This is useful to assess situations and see the other person’s point of view. It could also be considered a liability in that it quickly becomes apparent that there are typically no easy answers. All viewpoints have validity and issues and solutions are rarely black and white.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’ve made my home in 15 different places across the country (in the West and on the East Coast) before settling in Grand County, the most beautiful place in the world.

What do you do for fun?

I like to hike in the desert, read books, spend time with friends and family, and explore in the La Sals.

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County Council deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future?

Topping the list of priorities to address are 1) Enhancement of quality of life; 2) Effective management of county revenue, specifically the Transient Room Tax (TRT) funding; and 3) Ensuring the process for changing Grand County’s form of government is fair, efficient and comprehensive.

Enhancing quality of life for residents involves continuing the work and progress we’ve made in the area of affordable workforce housing. As a council member, I would continue to support efforts already being undertaken by the Housing Authority, the Community Land Trust, local nonprofits, and developers to increase current housing stock of 413 units to the projected need of over 600 units by 2020.

Enhancing quality of life also includes managing growth and the tension created by a tourism-based economy. This involves visioning and planning how we want the valley to look/feel and updating our land-use code to prioritize residents’ needs to maintain integrity of existing neighborhoods, rather than selling out and turning Grand County into a tourist accommodation monoculture throughout the entire valley. This is not a progressive vs. conservative issue; the tension and frustration felt by residents due to the influx of millions of tourists into the county is palpable across the broad spectrum of residents.

As a county council member, effecting change in TRT revenue expenditures and distribution would remain a priority. We made a small amount of progress in the last legislative session in this area and I propose we lobby for additional change. Specifically, expanding the list of allowable expenditures for the tourism mitigation portion to include infrastructure repair and maintenance as well as workforce housing project support. Equally important is an adjustment in the ratio of TRT mitigation to TRT tourism promotion revenue and expenditures so that the county would have the option to increase spending on tourism impact mitigation and less on promotion. Now that millions of tourists come to Grand County annually, we need to shift the focus of use of the TRT money from promotional advertising of Grand County to promoting education and information among the tourists that are here on how to recreate while also protecting the fragile desert landscape.  

Finally, I am committed to ensuring that the process for changing Grand County’s form of government due to the passage of HB 224 is fair, efficient and comprehensive. This will likely be an issue that will require the Council’s time and consideration. Regardless of how one feels about HB 224 and the end of Grand County’s nonpartisan citizen-representative government, changes will be required. Thoughtful consideration and deliberation with public input must occur over the next two years in order for Grand County to comply with the requirements of HB 224.

Please tell us why you’re interested in serving on the Grand County Council.

I’m running for reelection primarily to continue making headway on projects and issues listed above. I evaluate proposals with a broad-minded perspective and have the ability to see “the big picture.” I am a committed member of this community and feel blessed to live in this beautiful part of our state and want to continue working hard for the residents of our county.

Candidates for Grand County School Board District 4

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson, candidate for Grand County School District District 4

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County? Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

Growing up as a “Baby Boomer” in Salt Lake City during the postwar 50s helped me define my four decades of dedicated public service as a professional educator, professional association leader and a variety of other community service organizations. At the University of Utah, I earned an excellent education, my professional credentials, and a strong desire for life-long learning. Everything connected contributed to Ryan Anderson becoming Mr. Anderson; retired teacher still ready to serve.

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

A growing concern I have for Grand County is finding a dynamic reflexive balance between our burgeoning tourism-based economy and the unique Moab community character and the natural surroundings we value and share.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

My strength as a creative solution finder is restricted at times by taking on too many tasks personally instead of sharing the load.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

Most people, including my many thousands of students, probably don’t know that I am extremely nervous speaking in front of groups and therefore over-prepare my materials.

What do you do for fun?

As a retiree, I now enjoy traveling and exploring our high mountain peaks to our deep river canyons and all the points between and beyond.

What are your top priorities or goals?

My mom’s advice to me before she passed away was “seek balance” … It has become my main goal in life.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

As I talk with other community members, I hear that one of the issues concerning them is finding ways of ensuring that we and our families can make and live a life beyond just making a living.

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County School Board deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future?

A consistently ongoing key issue for school board members is finding the delicate balance in accessing, acquiring, and negotiating essential federal, state, and local maintenance and operations and capital outlay funding for our schools, educators, and children. Because funding is an ever increasing need and a consistently moving target, it is essential to maintain open transparent communication between all stakeholders: educators, parents, community members, business leaders, and elected representatives at local, state, and federal government levels. I have historically and will continue active communication in these relationships. Another ongoing challenge for the Grand County school board is achieving their goal of attracting and retaining qualified teachers. Thanks to the community support of Proposition 4, the salary schedules for educators has improved well. However, long-term affordable housing remains an ongoing problem for discussion about a few possible solutions utilizing district holdings and programs or forming community partnerships to meet the growing housing needs.

Bullying among peers is a topic of concern for parents in the Grand County School District. What are your thoughts on bullying in schools and what do you see as the school board’s role in the issue of bullying in schools?

Although bullying has been a problem since time immemorial which most of us have witnessed or been a victim of, the advent of electronic social media has grown the pervasive problem’s magnitude exponentially to devastatingly destructive levels. With depersonalized electronic distance, bullies can now attack others anytime day or night; relentlessly inflicting emotional, psychological, and potentially physical wounds. Our children, as victims, feel helpless and hopeless when trapped in the bullying cycle. Parents and family, educators, friends, and classmates also feel powerless at times when they are aware of the extent of the problem. Each individual is aware of a strand of the overall web, and so through trust in our relationships, open communication and sharing of what we know, and working together with our collective wisdom we can resolve individual cases. By doing so, case by case, a little at a time, we chisel away at the larger societal problem we now face. I trust the collective “wisdom of the body.” Parents and educators communicating daily with children are the contact people for school board members to engage with in the process of finding solutions to the bullying problem both specifically and generally.

Kathy Williams, candidate for Grand County School Board District 4

Kathy Williams

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

My name is Kathy Williams, and I am a family medicine physician who has lived and practiced in Moab for 18 years. I grew up in Utah and went to school at USU in Logan for my undergraduate studies in nutrition, and then to the University of Utah for medical school.  

Describe any previous public service or community involvement. 

I have volunteered in a variety of capacities in the Grand County schools. I am on the board of the Moab Music Festival, and I volunteer once a month at the Moab Free Health Clinic.  

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

I am concerned that our small town will become unaffordable for the majority of workers who are essential to a thriving, viable community, including public safety and health care workers, educators, small business owners, etc.  

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

Although I am not an educator, I have been involved in the classroom as a volunteer, and have been active for years on the Community Councils in both HMK and the high school.  I feel that I have some insight into the issues that teachers face day to day, and I have great respect for the work they do, especially considering the demands on their time, and their limited resources. As a physician, I interact with kids and families and understand the challenges that they face, both in and out of school. As a parent, I understand the frustrations experienced trying to navigate the system, and the desire to ensure the best educational opportunities for our children. 

What do you do for fun?

I am an obsessive gardener.

What are your top priorities or goals?

1. I hope to promote a culture in which all students will pursue some type of post high school education. This focus can begin in elementary school by setting expectations early, by aligning curriculum from grades K-12, as well as strengthening resources for 7th-12th grade guidance counseling, and increase options for elective courses in upper grades that will prepare students for college or technical education.  

2. Strengthen the bond between USU and Moab secondary students.  Broaden concurrent enrollment options and healthcare professional technical programs for upper grades

3. Nurture and strengthen the relationships with the many community members who already donate time and energy to the schools. We should take advantage of their knowledge, experience and willingness to help.

What are the biggest issues facing students/families in Grand County?

A major concern are issues surrounding intergenerational poverty, substance abuse, and mental health, all which have an effect on all of our children, either directly or indirectly. There must be a community-wide effort to address these issues, starting with intervention with at-risk families at an early age. There are many community entities that are focused on addressing these issues, but there is a lot of overlap and redundancy. A coordinated effort to bring all entities to the table could result in effective solutions to some of these problems. The district has already begun this process.

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County School Board deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future? 

Teacher recruitment and retention is a challenge, given the high cost of living. The issues stated above are also high on the list of concerns.  

Bullying among peers is a topic of concern for parents in the Grand County School District. What are your thoughts on bullying in schools and what do you see as the school board’s role in the issue of bullying in schools? 

Unfortunately in our current environment, stereotyping and bullying are not just confined to the classroom. It is incumbent on all adults to set an example of tolerance, understanding and compassion for others, as children will emulate what they see to be acceptable behavior. Obviously, these things must be taught in the classroom, but due to the prevalence of technology and social media, much bullying now occurs outside of the schools, and so parents must be involved as well. Certainly, if a child is being bullied, he or she needs to be heard and supported, responsible adults must intervene to stop the behavior, and consequences should be enforced for repeat offenders.

Why are you interested in serving on the Grand County Board of Education?

Grand County has produced some remarkable students, and I want that tradition to continue.  I have been invested in the schools since my kids were in kindergarten. I feel that my years of experience, as a family doctor, a parent and a volunteer in the schools, have given me a unique perspective on the issues facing our students. I hope to be a bridge between parents, educators, the health care system and the community.

Candidates for Grand County Council At-large

Mary McGann

Mary McGann, candidate for Grand County Council At-large

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

My name is Mary Elizabeth Mullen McGann — you can’t get more Irish than that. I was born in Leadville, Colorado, moved to Moab when I was in kindergarten and completed my public education in Moab, graduating from Grand County High in 1970. I attended the University of Idaho and began my teaching career in Idaho, returning to Moab in 1980. My entire adult life has been dedicated to family and service. My passion for service helped me be an effective teacher, mother and CEO of a children’s foundation, and now it helps me be an effective council member. Public service is not only about doing a job efficiently and honestly, it is also about serving the public. I am passionate about the people of Grand County and am dedicated to maintaining and improving the quality of life for Grand County’s citizens.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement.

For 33 amazing years, I served as an award-winning teacher for the Grand County School system. As a teacher I became aware of the need for foster parents in our county. My loving husband Jim and I fostered children for over 10 years. I took a year leave of absence from the school system to focus on improving the lives of children in this community. During that year I more than tripled the number of foster parents in our community and created a foundation for children, The Infant through Youth Foundation. This foundation was instrumental in the creation of The Youth Garden Project, Christmas Box House, Children’s Justice Center, After School Programs, Skate Park, Club Red, Mentor Program, and the Foster Parent Foundation.

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

My main concerns, which I see as goals for Grand County, are: creating more affordable housing; increasing economic diversity; protecting our water; improving the health and safety of our citizens, including children and youth in our schools; managing growth to benefit the community; and ensuring a smooth transition to a new form of county government.

What is your single biggest strength and weakness as a candidate?

My greatest strength is my deep commitment to all the citizens of Grand County. My greatest weakness is getting spread too thin, because I like to help and be involved in our community.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I am a cat whisperer. I have taught my cats to beg, roll over and come to a signal.

What do you do for fun?

I love spending time with my grandchildren, having my friends and family over for dinner, rafting, skiing, riding my bike, reading historical fiction, camping, traveling, dancing (Zumba), water aerobics, watching PBS, philosophizing and enjoying my backyard.

What are your top priorities or goals?

I strive every day to be an effective and knowledgeable council member, while always being a loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

The biggest issue facing Grand County is managing change and growth in a manner that protects and improves opportunities for our citizens and local businesses, while at the same time protects our quality of life and precious natural resources.

Anything else you want voters to know?

Yes, that I am curious and value listening, studying and questioning as a means of collaborative problem solving.

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County Council deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future?

One of the greatest challenges facing our county is balancing the needs of the county with the limited amount of revenue we receive. To deal with this challenge we have upgraded our budgeting process, revisited how we allocate the various revenue streams, and are looking closely at ways we can improve efficiencies. In addition, we are working with the legislature to loosen the restrictions on how the TRT revenues can be spent. Some of the key issues facing the county are a limited number of good paying jobs, affordable housing, and water.

The Grand County Council recently passed a lawful resolution (abiding by state law) to initiate a process for changing the county’s form of government due to its non-compliant status in light of House Bill 224. What are your thoughts on the county change of government and House Bill 224?

There is little if anything that could impact a county more than being forced to change its form of government. Grand County voters have endorsed our current nonpartisan form of government three times since 1992, most recently in 2012. Each time the margin was roughly 60 percent in favor of retaining nonpartisan elections and a seven-person county council. I was devastated when I first learned of how HB 224 was going to force us to change to partisan elections, and to potentially default to a 3-member commission. I have spent countless hours studying the bill to understand how to move forward in a lawful manner that would assure all the citizens of Grand County have a voice in choosing our future form of government. While it seems a contradiction, if citizens of Grand County do not want to default to a three person commission form of government, they must vote “yes” to Proposition 9.

Please tell us why you’re interested in serving on the Grand County Council.

I grew up in a family that believed in public service. My dad, John Mullen, was a member of the Moab City Council and my mother, Ferne Mullen, was a Grand County Commissioner. Public service, not personal gain, is a guiding principle they instilled in me. If re-elected, I will continue to work to protect the well-being of all the citizens of Grand County.

Norm Knapp, candidate for the Grand County Council At-large

Norm Knapp [file photo

Norm Knapp is running against candidate Mary McGann for the Grand County Council (at-large). By press time, Knapp had not responded to the election guide questions.

Candidate for Grand County School Board District 1 (unopposed)

Britnie Ellis

Britnie Ellis, candidate for Grand County School Board District 1 (unopposed)

Please introduce yourself. What is your name, where did you go to school, what do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Grand County?

My name is Britnie Ellis. I am an alumna of Grand County High School. I am a fifth-generation in Moab and I manage a local hotel and love being a mom.

Describe any previous public service or community involvement. 

I have served many years on the Moab Lodging Association board of directors and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Moab Chamber of Commerce.  

What are your main concerns regarding Grand County’s future?

The lack of workforce; housing and early childhood care; finding ways to break the inter-generational poverty cycle.

What do you do for fun?

I love spending time with my family in the outdoors.

What are your top priorities or goals? 

Providing safe and secure schools, building a new middle school and attracting highly qualified teachers.

What are the biggest issues facing the people in Grand County whom you would be representing?

Continued effort to bring parents, teachers/school staff, administration, school board, community leaders, businesses, city leadership and county leadership together to support our children in health, safety, academics and in extracurricular activities.  

What are some of the key issues or specific challenges that the Grand County School Board deals with on a regular basis? What would you do differently in the future? 

Hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers. Finding ways to bring salaries to state averages and being able to continue to compete with wages. The community support with the voted levy was key to helping make this challenge more successful.

Bullying among peers is a topic of concern for parents in the Grand County School District. What are your thoughts on bullying in schools and what do you see as the school board’s role in the issue of bullying in schools? 

We recognize this is an issue and the school board’s role is to help develop policy to guide the decisions at the school level. We have recently hired a community coordinator to collaborate with community organizations and key leaders to help with things such as bullying. We use “SafeSchools” as a reporting tool, to help kids in need. As parents, community leaders, teachers, citizens in the community we also have a role in helping stop bullying. It is important we are all working together. 

Please tell us why you’re interested in serving on the Grand County Board of Education.  

I love to serve. Being on the school board gives me the opportunity to serve the community. The school district has a big role in the community and it gives me a chance to help make a difference.

Candidate for Grand County Sheriff (unopposed)

Steven White

Steven White is running unopposed for the position of Grand County Sheriff. By press time, White had not responded to the election guide questions.