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Page’s Mayoral Debate

Page’s Mayoral Debate
July 22
13:56 2016
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The moderators explain the rules of the debate to the candidates

“I think our national politicians can learn a lot from the class of both of our candidates tonight,” said moderator Brian Kellar.

Kellar was commending the candidates following a cordial mayoral debate Wednesday at the Page Public Safety Building.

Community members packed the room to listen to the challenger Jon Jones and incumbent Bill Diak answer 17 questions over the course of the evening covering a variety of topics near and dear to Page. Some of the questions came from the moderators Brian Kellar and David Rupkalvis, while the rest were submitted by community members prior to the debate.

From restaurants to roundabouts, retiring the city’s debt to affordable housing, the candidates let the citizens know where they stood on each issue.

During his opening statement, Jon Jones said that he wants the city government to have a cohesive vision for Page, “Honestly, what I’m doing here is trying to understand what we are doing with Page.”

Current Mayor Bill Diak opened by explaining why he is running for a third term, “The reason that I’m running again is I feel there are some things that I would like to see get finished that are on the docket and I would like to be a part of the leadership moving those things forward.”

Diak is currently in his second term as mayor. Mayoral terms usually are two years, but due to the legislature changing the election cycle, Diak has been serving as Page’s mayor for nearly five years.

During the debate Diak said that, if elected, his third term would be his last.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every day that I’ve spent in office serving you,” Diak said while his voice cracked with emotion, “I’m looking forward to my last two years because I made a commitment to my wife that I will not seek another term beyond this and she’s going to hold me to that.”

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Jones delivering his opening statement

The first question asked to the candidates was, what is the most critical challenge Page is facing over the next four years?

Jon Jones said from his point of view, he sees Page’s biggest challenge being struggling with growth.

“We have, of course, a number new of hotels, a number of new things happening. But there are always many more pieces to growth than just the simple fact of putting up more buildings. There’s more required of the entire community. Sometimes that growth is easy to slide backwards from not because of the buildings, but because of our care for those things,” Jones said.

Diak’s answer focused not on the struggle to grow but Page’s ability to control its growth. That includes maintaining our infrastructure, adding affordable housing, and managing tourism.

“Our roads, some of our code enforcement, some of our neighborhoods, and things like that. Those are some of the most important things to everybody in the community. Tourism is going to be what it is, we need to control it and manage it. But it’s going to happen,” said Diak

Tourism and infrastructure were brought up throughout the debate, with both candidates agreeing that the latter needs attention and repairs. As for tourism, the candidates acknowledged that tourism is the economic driver of Page and that the city should do its best to support it.

“We live in one of the most beautiful areas in the Southwest and we’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful structures and countryside there is. We should feel lucky that we can not only live here but benefit from that. That doesn’t mean we want to put it in a position where it is not protected,” noted Diak while talking about his efforts to work with the City’s partners in protecting the landscape of Page.

“We are dependent on tourism. The city’s role of course should be to protect that and to make sure we are able to survive off of that,” Jones said.

In a hypothetical question, the candidates were asked, if money wasn’t an issue, what’s one project they would complete?

“If you’re waving a magic wand what do you wave it for? We can wave it to repair all of the roads, to take care of all the infrastructure issues we have right now,” Jones concluded after talking about the possibilities that would come with unlimited funding.

Diak agreed with Jones, saying, “First thing I’d like to see move forward is taking care of the neglected infrastructure that we all benefit from.”

To close the debate, the candidates gave their final statements on why the people of Page should give them their vote.

“The truth is that Page is going to continue to develop. The truth is that the mayor is in office for two years in the City of Page. Not a very long time. It leaves a lot of open ground. It leaves a mayor hoping for multiple terms just because the amount that has to be accomplished and the pace that things move dictate that in a two year period you can do more harm than good…Bill has things he has uncompleted that he wants to see through. I totally understand that. The other question that goes along with that is that is it for ourselves that we want that or is it for Page? I certainly hope that any mayor would say, it’s for Page,” Jones concluded.

Mayor Diak said he is honored to serve the citizens of Page honestly, fairly, and without any favoritism, “It has been a real pleasure to serve the community and to see and hopefully bring about some of those changes that we would benefit from. When I first started doing this it was hard, two years is not a long time…You’re spending half that time learning what the heck is going on. The second half of it you actually start to get some things accomplished and then you figure out that, gee, by the time you’re closing down, I finally got it done. It takes that long to get things done. The process is slow, it’s cumbersome, it is totally full of checks and balances and that’s partly what takes it so long and that’s a good thing I think…I think Jon has expressed a deep concern for the community, as well as I have. I’m asking you for your votes and hopefully you’ll allow me to serve you for two more years.”

The Mayoral Primary will be held on August 30th.

If you missed the debate you can listen to part one here and part two here.

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