2009 Election: Tony Wegener profile

Editor’s note: CacheValleyDaily.com sent a questionnaire to all of the candidates for mayor and municipal council in Logan. We will publish the responses as we receive them. Candidate: Tony Wegener Position: Logan Municipal Council 1. Why did you file as a candidate for city service? It was time! I’ve been an observer of the political process most of my life, but the current national political scene has both discouraged and energized me; I want to get involved. I’m not sure what I have to offer, other than experience, but I am committed to helping “We the People” of Logan maintain our freedoms to the greatest extent possible. To that end I am willing to listen and learn. I am encouraged by the number of people who have chosen to run for political office this year. It would be a privilege to serve! Background: I was born in Perth, Australia in 1940. I met my future wife in Sydney. Kathleen Olsen was from Logan, Utah, USA?I followed her home to Logan in 1965, where we married and raised seven children?end of story. As the spouse of a US citizen I was a “permanent resident alien”, for 38 years. I had all of the obligations of citizenship, but I did not have the privilege of voting. However, I chose to be involved in community service in Logan?starting with the Logan Jaycees. I have served on Logan City advisory boards for 20 years, plus advisory boards at USU and BATC. Shortly after 9/11, I decided to apply for US citizenship. The 9/11 tragedy demonstrated that the USA had enemies abroad ?AND? enemies at home. I chose to stand with those who love the USA. The citizenship application process took 18 months. The citizenship ceremony was impressive. The Oath of Allegiance was sobering. I was particularly honored to share that experience with 200 citizens of other countries, mainly from Central and South America, and listen to many heartfelt testimonials?each of which ended with? “God Bless America!” My perspective is therefore somewhat unique. For example, I understand and empathize with the immigrant experience. I have been a successful Logan businessman through a number recessions and setbacks. We have lived the American dream. Two of our sons served in the US Marine Corps. My family loves this country?I’m proud to be a US citizen?I love Logan. 2. What do you feel are the key issues facing Logan in the next four years? 2.1 Please refer to the response to Item 5: Role of city government. 2.2 Fiscal Conservatism: The federal government is out of control. The future is uncertain. Under such conditions Logan City needs to demonstrate fiscal conservatism, focus on essential services, and maintain only those non-essential services which the community is willing and able to fund. My business currently assesses its opportunities and challenges weekly, in order to be prepared for whatever comes. Delayed response could invite disaster. Likewise Logan City will feel the pain as revenues diminish. The City needs to plan ahead and be prepared to act decisively. It will require serious leadership to cut services and staff?and balance a reduced budget. 2.3 Maintenance of Essential Services: The health and welfare of the citizens of Logan City depends upon sustainable community water and sewer systems. Administration after administration has acknowledged that Logan’s century old water system is leaking and needs serious attention/funding?yet nothing serious has been accomplished. Obviously such systems are neither visible nor glamorous, but ignoring them is not acceptable. 2.4 Serving the People: It is the nature of governments to forget the purpose for which they were endowed with power from the people, and turn inward with a focus on growth and self-perpetuation?and exercise power over the people. Logan City needs to focus on the basics of service and positive human relations, at all levels. 3. Please describe one or two examples of decisions made by city leaders in the past five years that you disagree with, explain why you disagreed and how you would have handled the situation if you were serving in an elected position at the time. Moving the City Offices to the Justice Building: This one item involves multiple poor decisions by public officials, starting with construction of the Justice Building itself: The Justice Building was outrageously expensive; it could not be replicated today for $400/sf. The finishes are high-end, the glass is bullet-proof and the security systems are elaborate. The basement includes holding cells for prisoners and a high security sally port such as one might find at a prison. Yet the current mayor declared it “underutilized”. Why was it underutilized? Was it really just a very expensive public white elephant? The current mayor decided that the City needed more office space. That need is questionable, but even so, quality office space can be built today for $200/sf. He could have easily added 10,000 sf to the existing city building. However, he proclaimed the need to build all new office space so that the city library could expand into the existing city office building. The mayor originally proposed building new City offices, physically connected to the east side of the Justice Building. He proposed matching the top floor of the new building with top floor of the Justice Building, so that the top floor of the underutilized Justice Building could be utilized as additional city office space. But it did not happen. How that plan quietly morphed into relocating Police services into the new structure is unknown. The Police did not need new space?and the new Police building cost much more than originally planned for City office space. But the mayor had a plan for the City offices which he kept under the radar. He chose to move the City offices into incredibly expensive public space in the Justice Building?and he then spent more money to remodel that expensive space to accommodate City functions. That is, he moved $200/sf office functions into a $400/sf building?and then remodeled the $400/sf building to better accommodate the $200/sf functions. But that left the Justice functions without a home, so the City purchased the State Employment Building, which was originally constructed as “office space” with intent to convert the building into a new Justice Building. The City is currently spending more money to turn that office building into a secure facility, presumably with bulletproof glass and high-tech security systems?and high end finishes befitting a Justice Building. Where was the outrage? How did it happen? It was done quietly and the mayor touted his experience as a contractor to quiet opposition. As an architect with 47 years of experience designing public buildings, I would have vigorously countered the mayor’s arguments regarding his very expensive domino game. People need to understand that the mayor has not finished his building spree. If elected, I will bring sanity into City Council discussions related to physical facilities. The Park Strip Controversy: I have a perspective about park strips based upon 8 years on Logan City’s Urban Forest Board. No issue received more vigorous debate, but we never considered enforcing any requirements on citizens regarding the usage or maintenance of park strips. While our board was all about trees and the visual character of neighborhoods, we never contemplated a heavy-handed approach. I did not enter into the debate about Logan City’s intrusion into the Adams Park neighborhood, but had I, it would have been to discourage their well-intended effort to “reclaim” city owned park strips in order to “improve the visual character of the neighborhood” in the “greater public good”. Their action was at best unfortunate. If LIBERTY is the FREEDOM to enjoy the fruits of our labors, then Logan City is guilty of violating the liberty of a whole neighborhood?and that’s selective tyranny. My family lived on 500 East for many years…our children attended the Adams Park School, so we were well aware that many people in the neighborhood depended upon renting basements to students to supplement their income. Some individuals invested in residential properties with the intent to create income properties…all with the express or tacit approval of Logan City. I really did not believe that the Council would vote to approve the action. Citizens deserve consistency from their City administrators. Cities should develop ordinances, with public approval, but residents should be able to rely upon those ordinances?and to make business decisions based upon those ordinances… in order to enjoy the fruits of their labors and investments. Changing the rules, after the fact, without a public referendum, is a form of tyranny. I will work to ensure that it never happens again. 4. Please describe one or two examples of decisions made by city leaders in the past five years that you completely agreed with and supported, and if the issue is a lingering issue, you would continue to support if elected. Parks and Recreation: Logan City’s commitment to developing and maintaining parks and recreation facilities has been impressive. Russ Akina deserves credit for running great recreation programs for adults and youth. One only need to visit the most recent swimming pool and skate board park to see that these facilities meet specific needs in the community. The Logan River Golf Course, while controversial, was actually ranked the No1 recreation priority by Logan residents, as determined by a poll conducted by the Logan Jaycees. It met a specific need; it created an attractive entry to the community, and it was the catalyst for a system of well used walking trails. Possibly one of the most successful recreation projects in Logan has to be the Community/High School Recreation Center. It became a model for inter-governmental agency cooperation in the state. I would support Logan’s Parks and Recreation department as essential to the health and welfare of the community, especially during difficult economic times. 5. Describe in your words what you believe the role of city government is. Role of City Government: The role of city government is to serve the people?to secure the safety of the community and to provide essential services economically and efficiently. Thus one might expect Logan City to provide appropriate police and fire protection services and a well-maintained infrastructure, to support a growing community. Basic infrastructure would include roads/sidewalks, sewer and water. Other appropriate services include parks, recreation facilities and library services. One might argue that such services are non-essential, yet in an economy such as we face today, the argument can be made that such services are essential to the health and welfare of the community. The city should encourage the availability of quality education and healthcare through public and/or private entities, and create an atmosphere supportive of existing business and new business development.

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