Logan’s primary election is next week and topics related to growth, such as affordable housing traffic and downtown revitalization, are important issues for the seven candidates in the race.
“I’m concerned that the growth going forward is smart and wise — where we are looking at development downtown, that we are planning accordingly so it is sustainable,” said candidate Ken Heare, a local realtor who lives in the Adams neighborhood.
All other candidates, including Tom Jensen, Gary Poore, Keegan Garrity, Abraham Verdoes, Jeannie Simmonds and Mark Anderson, shared similar thoughts on the importance of planning ahead.
“If you accept that the growth is inevitable and you try to shape it, then you end up being proactive and having a vision you can execute,” Verdoes said.
These seven candidates are running for three seats. After next week, the field will narrow to six. Both Jensen and Simmonds are incumbents.
“We as a City Council need to always be mindful of what may be coming down in the future,” Simmonds said.
When it comes to this growth, Jensen said the question related to growth is not if the city grows, but how it grows.
“Do we continue to sprawl in the open farmland or do we have more concentrated growth in certain areas that are more adept for growth? I think you can have a much higher density in the downtown areas,” Jensen said.
Conversations around higher density and affordable housing often go hand in hand.
“We need to create a variety of housing styles because people may not want to live in a big home anymore,” Jensen said. “They need to have a smaller home that is affordable and accommodating to their style.”
Creating smaller, less expensive homes is often seen as an effort to decrease housing prices. Garrity, who works at Malouf, said lower prices aren’t the only way to make homes more affordable.
“The other part of that is helping make salaries higher so people can afford maybe nicer areas,” Garrity said.
One element Poore, a former mayor and educator from Wyoming, is especially concerned about in relation to affordable housing is making sure transitional options are provided for people overcoming addictions.
“We have a real issue with homelessness and problems with people who have taken drugs and after they have been incarcerated they can’t find a place to live,” Poore said.
According to Poore, it is very important to him that people who have resources help those who may have less.
Anderson, a downtown business owner, said he is worried about housing because he has witnessed people having to leave the city because of pricing.
“We don’t want to see a mass exodus just because housing is not available or housing is too expensive,” Anderson said.
Although Logan may not be facing the same affordable housing issues as communities in Salt Lake County, Simmonds said the challenges can’t be ignored.
“We have, in a way, been discovered. People come here because they feel like they can acquire affordable housing,” Simmonds said.
BUSINESS AND REVITALIZATION
Beyond housing, revitalizing the downtown, strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging business growth came in next for many candidates, and in many cases were related issues.
“I really want to see some better jobs and some better opportunities for people in our community, for our residents,” Anderson said. “Whether that is more tech jobs or more service jobs or more manufacturing. It seems like we need to diversify some of our jobs here in Cache Valley.”
Garrity also wants to see business growth in Logan. Because companies like Malouf make efforts to give back and help people have higher salaries, he said having three or five new business like that in Logan would improve the quality of life for residents.
Heare said he thinks mixed-use commercial and residential spaces downtown, similar to what the current council is planning, would help sustain local business because it gives people a natural reason to be downtown.
In that growth, it is important to Verdoes that tax breaks for developers are accompanied with very careful consideration and guaranteed benefits for communities.
“I don’t fundamentally have an issue with them giving them tax breaks,” Verdoes said. “My problem is they aren’t ensuring a commitment of value in exchange for the community in return for these tax breaks.”
For both Simmonds and Jensen, ensuring a new library is built soon is also very important. Simmonds said one reason for this is the sheer number of people that use it.
Poore, however, said he doesn’t like the push for a new library and beautification type projects, such as new sidewalks.
“A lot of us are in very comfortable situations,” Poore said. “That bothers me how it is so easy to say we need a new a new library, we need sidewalks here, but to say ‘We’ve got to help these people’ is much more challenging.”
Logan’s primary election is on Tuesday and is being conducted by mail. Ballots must be postmarked by Monday if they are mailed back. They can also be dropped off at Logan’s city hall, 290 N. 100 West. Ballots must be turned in by 8 p.m. on Tuesday.