Orem Youth Council hosts ‘meet the candidates’

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On Nov. 1 six candidates for the Orem City council answered questions about Orem issues. Hans Andersen, Margaret Black, Dean Dickerson, Mark Seastrand, Shiree Thurston and John VanCott are running for the three city council positions to be filled on Nov. 8. With Black and Seastrand as the only incumbent members, most of the candidates were new faces, but all came ready to share their opinion.

“Meet the Candidates Night” was hosted by the Orem Youth Council at the Orem Senior Friendship Center with around 200 people in attendance. The questions were presented by youth council members and covered areas from job security to neighborhood preservation. The biggest question of the night was regarding Orem City’s fiber optic Internet service, UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency). The concern for the residents of Orem is the amount of debt that could be acquired if UTOPIA is not able to support the cost by itself.

The Orem City website said, “The approval of the first bond took place in the June 15, 2004 Orem City Council meeting. The original bonds were refinanced and additional bonds were issued with restructured pledges in the  May 2, 2008, Orem City Council meeting. UTOPIA has issued $185 million in bonds and Orem has pledged a portion of its sales tax receipts to pay for UTOPIA debt if revenues from UTOPIA sales are not enough to cover annual debt payments.”

The candidates had many remarks about the UTOPIA deal but all said they are working on a solution.

Andersen said this deal should have never happened, and it was the decison of the city council without the proper information given to the residents.

“If I had been in the council then, I would have never let this happen,” Anderson said. “But that was then and this is now. Do you want to have the same people that made this decision still on your council?”

Black said there are problems but it is not as bad as Andersen and others are trying to make it out to be. Black was on the committee that put the deal into action and said she still feels this could be good for Orem. She said optic fibers providing the fastest Internet possible is what all Orem residents want.

All candidates did agree the current recession has played a major part in the limited amount of success for UTOPIA but are looking forward on how to decrease its spending and increase the revenue.

Following the questions each candidate was given time to say why they should be on the committee for next year.

Registration is at the Utah County Clerk, Elections Office, at 100 E. Center Street, Room 3600 in Provo. Deadline for voter registration is Nov. 8.

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