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Debate Recap: Questions and Answers from City Council Candidates

Debate Recap: Questions and Answers from City Council Candidates
June 24
11:03 2022

The mayoral and City Council candidate debate took place in Page last night. The event was sponsored by the City of Page and the Page Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce. Two mayoral candidates and four candidates for City Council were available to answer questions asked by moderators. Here is a list of the questions asked of the City Council candidates, as well as a condensed summary of their answers. These are not direct quotes. The questions were directed to 2 Council candidates at a time, so not every candidate was asked to answer every question. The summary of questions and answers from the mayoral candidates can be found here.

City Council Candidates:
David Auge
Jolann “Jules” Costa
Michael Farrow
Theresa Lee

 

Page recently lost its veterinarian, which has caused stress and headaches. What role can Council play to bring a vet to Page?

Auge – The loss of a vet has brought a lot of pressure; people have to go to Kanab. The City can be proactive in helping to do the research or help bring a person here, but not through incentives – you can’t give incentives to everybody. The candidate has to want to live and work in Page, but we would definitely welcome the opportunity to assist in hiring and bringing a vet to town. Page is not alone; you see that all over where there is a shortage of vets. Like housing, there are a lot of cities that are in the same predicament we are.

Costa – The reason why the current vet left is what we need to find out – what made them want or have to leave. If we know that, we can go forward with finding a new one. If vets have an association like lawyers, maybe we can go forward with accessing one through an association. I don’t know if it was housing, there are so many unknown questions about why. It’s surprising and a disappointment so until I know why, it would be hard to know how to bring one in – what we can offer that makes it good for that person. The second part is the animal shelter being underfunded; volunteers there should be given angel wings. All of that plays into it.

 

The City has implemented a lot of improvements, particularly with parks and resurfacing streets. However, travel review sites say Page is dull-looking or even an ugly town. If you’re elected, will you take beautification steps? How will it be paid for?

Lee – City Council is already addressing part of that through the city streetscape. Plans are in motion to improve the downtown Lake Powell area. The City has also provided incentives to businesses to improve facades, and only had one business actually come and take advantage of that. Aside from leading by example and having the city improving their own image with their own buildings, I’m not sure what else we can do because you’re talking about private businesses. We need to lead by example. If we want businesses to improve their façade, we need to improve ours. It’s one thing I have been pushing for – it’s a slow process, as government is slow – but the streetscaping plan is a good start and we’ll see what it leads to.

Farrow – Well, it can’t be a lot of bad comments because most of what I see are “We have a great time here!” but we do need to work on that, and just as Lee mentioned, the City street plans are in effect. They’ve had open meetings and people haven’t attended; we probably need to do a better job of getting people participating. The City also has the 2040 vision plan with Matrix – part of reality is to influence business leaders to work with the city for those plans. This is a chance for business leaders to participate. As for costs, bids are coming in very high. The City is trying to upgrade streets, but there is an effort and there is a cost. We need to get more business owners in on the plans to beautify. Visitors want some place to walk, some place to look at, and some place to be involved with.

 

Do you think it may become necessary for residents of Page or Page businesses to restrict water usage? If so, what would you do to encourage that? How would you enforce it to those who don’t comply?

Auge – I think we’re going to come to a point where we’re going to have to look at water restrictions. There are certain businesses like restaurants, which need water if you want clean dishes. As far as residential, obviously you see more and more people not growing or watering grass, and you see others that are taking lawns out and putting decorative rock and other features in. You can’t force people unless it gets down to dire straits. California is a leader in that type of thing and they’re always having problems getting people to follow. Unless you put a restrictor on water meters themselves that restricts the amount of water you can use every week, it’s just a matter of getting people to volunteer. Unless it gets to the point where we don’t have any water, but the BoR is working on getting water from a lower level. I think it’s going to be a volunteer thing and a lot of education to the people, and possibly some incentives.

Lee – I think that at some point, yes, water usage will have to be restricted. We don’t know if it will be next year or 20 years from now, but yes, at some point, we will. I remember growing up in California during extreme droughts and it was a lot of education. Every time you turned on the TV there was an ad or a PSA reminding about water. Sadly, to get the point across, it would have to be done similarly to how it was done with COVID: where it’s a constant, everyday. When it comes to incentivizing public/private partnerships, maybe working with the Chamber and doing something like the Holiday Home Tours but for desert landscaping; something of that nature where it encourages using desert landscaping rather than foliage that takes a lot of water. As far as enforcement, I know what certain areas of California are going through: no way. Not for me as a Council member. Only if we were, like Auge was saying, at extreme dire straits; and if we are at that level we have much bigger issues. We would not be the only ones dealing with that level of lack of water. So I think it’s just a matter of education and incentivizing through public/private partnerships.

 

Tell me about your vision for Page’s future: 10 years from now, what would you like to see happening in Page?

Costa – There are all these discussions going on related to water issues, and power issues, and housing issues, and we haven’t addressed drug issues. Every rural town and metropolitan area is faced with fentanyl and the youth it’s killing. What I’d like to see is that we’ve created a downtown, a true downtown, where you can have a First Friday and everyone can walk around, and if you want to go off of Lake Powell Boulevard onto Vista you can. That’s a road at night you don’t want to be on – you could slip and fall, there are a lot of rocks, it’s unsafe, there are a lot of businesses down that street and it’s not enticing. There’s no connection or tie-in. If we can somehow approach that, it would be good. You really have to do personal outreach because there’s a certain sense of mistrust by people. The tourists need to be here not only because of the lake. Down the line it would be nice to have a self-contained recycling center with the leftovers of the projects becoming a cottage industry. You see gift shops with t-shirts made out of recycled materials; why aren’t we jumping on that? The question is, can we redirect our energy towards the green and get the state and federal money to do it?

Farrow – I’d like for my grandkids to be here with me and do what I did when I used to be able to come out here with my kids. I’d like to see smart and balanced growth. I understand we’re a tourist town but we have more to offer; we’re uniquely destined to be a destination city and we need to work with our businesses to get people to stay longer. Those are the taxes that fund the city. There’s more money in the coffers, there’s more things we can do; more balanced and structured activities for our youth. We rely solely on tourism, but if we had something else in terms of manufacturing –- they’re trying to do Zennihomes where the power plant was – but if they’re able to do something to have more programs for employment. Lastly, where are the trade skills for the future and the kids? Where are our trade programs where kids are learning to work on outboards and boat repair and all the other trades we have out here. I’d like to see more growth and protect the people that live here.

 

In recent months, the media has reported that the lake is dead or no longer worth visiting. Should the City play a role in letting people know the lake is open?

Auge – Judy [Franz] and Gregg [Martinez] have been searching out every opportunity to put out true information about Lake Powell. Obviously, the levels are down and we can’t hide it, and ramp access is limited. We’ve learned from the past and will use it in the future. There’s nothing you can do about people who think they know what they’re talking about, other than doing your best to put out correct information whenever available. The City and the Chamber have been working their butts off with any news operation that will listen. A quick comment on a community pool – It would be great and we should research using recycled water for it. Reclaimed water is used on the golf course, and it could be a source if we put more chlorine in the water it might be safe for splash pads and a pool could use reclaimed water, it’s just a matter of getting over the fact that it’s reclaimed.

Costa – My first thought is we need to develop a website that can come across daily with water levels and daily information. We should have a website to give stats and conditions and whether or not it’s windy, and what’s happening. Everyone is using their smart phones to find things out and that’s where we should start. The public needs a website and the hotels can get on board with some way of running tabs on what’s going on. Going back to a swimming pool or splash pad – Chlorine is the worst thing to put in water. There are saline solutions that are now being used in new pools being built. So if we ever get there, a saline process would be better in my opinion. I don’t know where anyone has in their minds for a splash pad or pool, but I think that big empty lot next to the post office would be good. I don’t know who owns it, but that is a prime area to do a rec center, a boys’ and girls’ club, social services, a pool – it could be a one stop shop right in town and there it is. That’s where I see that, if we’re going to build it.

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There was one final question towards council candidates, but unfortunately the audio on the live stream cut out and LakePowellLife wasn’t able to hear the final question, responses, and some of the candidates’ closing comments; so in the name of equal representation, none of the final responses or closing comments will be shared at this time.

Debate Recap: Questions and Answers from City Council Candidates - overview

Summary: Debate Recap: Questions and Answers from City Council Candidates

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