Now that the primaries for the Logan mayoral race have ended, the race for the general election is in full swing.
While both candidates have similar issues on their platforms, the two candidates — incumbent Mayor Holly Daines and challenger Dee Jones — have different approaches to solve the problems. Currently the two biggest issues are downtown revitalization and infrastructure.
Elected mayor in 2017, Daines has many accomplishments she is proud of, including the redevelopment of Logan and fixing up infrastructure throughout the town. Daines has a background in business which she believes has helped her to be the best mayor she can be. She has also served on the Municipal Council for eight years and has volunteer experience.
Born and raised in Logan, Jones worked for US Foods for 29 years before retiring. He’s been fixing up an event center in Logan with the hope of providing residents with a place to host weddings, parties and even banquets. Jones decided to run for mayor with the goal of being a better voice to Logan citizens.
A big part of Daines’ goals as mayor was to revitalize downtown Logan. The Center Block project and plaza project were both a part of this goal. Center Street was narrowed to give more sidewalk room to pedestrians and the abandoned Emporium building is being torn down to make room for a brand new plaza complete with a splash pad, seasonal ice rink and stage to give residents a community space to gather.
“We have some great historic pieces like the Eccles Theatre, the Tabernacle and the courthouse, but there were some vacant empty buildings. Retail has changed— everything can be delivered to your doorstep. So I asked, how do you keep your downtown vital and attract people?” Daines said. Within her first month in office Daines worked with business owners on Center Street to participate in a special assessment and soon the plan was in motion.
Daines also recognized her plaza plan “hasn’t been without controversy” but believes it will help make downtown Logan “vital” again while also providing room for the town’s rapid growth.
“If we keep building big single-family homes and big lots, it will eat up our farm ground, and that’s what gives our valley character,” Daines said. “By densifying where we have infrastructure and services, we can have both.”
While Jones is also for downtown revitalization, he does not support knocking down “beautiful buildings” that can be “remodeled for a third of the cost.”
“What is irritating to me and a lot of citizens is that we are already six million into this and now they are talking about five and a half more. If you ask the mayor or a council member, there’s no plan after demolishing the buildings,” Jones said.
While he acknowledged the talks of shops and community space, Jones stated all he has heard confirmations about so far is a splash pad.
Daines denies this and said the plan has been public information for many years now. The plans also include what will happen to the “historic buildings” in plaza 45 and plaza 41. The buildings will be sold through a public request for proposals. Daines stated that she even met with the Historical Preservation Committee to make sure history wasn’t destroyed.
Jones expressed the importance of “having a plan before you set things in motion,” which he does not think Mayor Daines has done. He also doesn’t like that Daines narrowed Center Street and thinks the road should be blocked off to traffic.
“I don’t like to spend other people’s money. I think it would have been a lot more practical and a lot more beneficial to get local, private companies in on this,” Jones said.
He is passionate in his belief that “city government does not belong in real estate.”
Another issue both candidates are looking to make headway on is improving infrastructure. In addition to revitalizing downtown, Daines has added new hiking and park trail sections to connect to older ones throughout the city. One of the most recent trails connects from USU to First Dam.
In addition, Daines has helped pass plans to build a new water reservoir and a new sewer treatment plant as well as replaced sewer and water lines under old streets and fixed up roads. Utility rates have increased to help pay for these projects but Daines sees it as a long-term investment.
“We’re trying to build projects that will still be here in 50 years when our kids are still paying for it,” Daines said.
The mayor’s office and Municipal Council have a Capital Improvement Plan they will work on over the next 20 years.
Jones isn’t a fan of the increased utility rates. Logan ratepayers saw a 10% increase in wastewater treatment rates, a 17% increase countywide in environmental service rates and a 35% increase to water rates. While Jones understands having to increase rates to pay for infrastructure, he doesn’t think it is the right way to go.
“Utilities are to make sure everybody has their lights on, everybody has heat. If there’s any excess money leftover, that’s what should go to infrastructure,” Jones said.
Daines argues that increased rates are because of underfunded projects in the city, such as the EPA- and State Department of Water Quality-mandated wastewater treatment plant or the water storage tank.
“Yes, utility rates have increased, but they have gone towards needed repairs and infrastructure construction which have been underfunded for much too long,” she wrote in a memo to council members.
The water treatment plant will cost $150 million and August was the last increase of a five-year tiered increase in rates. The estimated cost for the new 8-10 million gallon storage tank, which will begin construction in 2023, is in the range of $20 million.
In addition to lower utility rates, Jones would also like to increase tourism, bring higher-paying jobs to the valley and alleviate traffic in Logan.
“We’re going to work as one to focus on the city and its communities. Let’s work as one to bring some positive impact to the valley,” Jones said when asked why people should vote for him. “We’ve got great local representation in this valley. Most people care out there. I’d welcome any input from the community. My door would be open with complete transparency. Taxpayers need to know what’s going on.”
Daines states people should vote for her because of her ability to “get things done.”
“I have a proven track record. I’m proud of what my team and I have accomplished because we have accomplished a great deal over the last four years. We’ve worked really hard, we’ve been creative in saying, ‘How do you make this happen, how did you figure out a way to pay for it?’ We’ve leveraged a lot of grant funding, a lot of private donations, and really tried to move this city forward.”
The general election will be Nov 2. Ballots can either be mailed in and postmarked no later than the day before the election or can be dropped off at Logan City Hall. To register to vote, visit www.vote.utah.gov.