Experience, and planning for future growth were prominent themes at a KVNU/CacheValleyDaily.com Providence City Meet the Candidates Forum on Wednesday.Seven candidates running for two four-year city council seats displayed signs and shared literature with an estimated crowd of 70 residents at Providence Elementary School. The forum, moderated by KVNU’s For the People co-host Jason Williams, consisted of four pre-determined questions answered in random order by the candidates, and was followed by an informal discussion opportunity for the public.The discussion on whether or not Providence City should give incentives for businesses to locate there seemed to draw the most contrast among the candidates. Incumbent Kathy Baker spoke about the huge potential Providence has, but said the city needs to be careful and grow “smart.” Dale Astle, who is finishing the term of former councilmember Trent Rasmussen (who moved away from Providence because of work), stressed planning, understanding that growth will happen but also being concerned about not losing the city’s identity.Wendy Simmons, a former councilmember, stressed a desire to keep Providence a vibrant, growing community without “losing who we are.” Ralph Call believes the city should be discriminant in allowing or offering incentives for businesses. He was concerned that the city should not allow strip clubs and pornography vendors.Don Calderwood, a first-time candidate for office two years ago, believes that Providence has a huge potential. He said that tax incentives are not always the best option for offering incentives.Dee Barnes said the city should provide incentives but also be careful, citing bad planning in the past and seeing what it has done to his community. Carrie Kirk stressed the need for more creativity in planning, and the need to see a bigger picture in envisioning the city’s future.Encouraged by the turnout, Providence City Clerk Terri Lewis said there are plans to host similar events in the future. Early voting has begun, said Lewis, and can be done during normal business hours at the Providence City Offices until September 11. According to Skarlet Bankhead, Providence City Administrator and Recorder, Jared Jensen had declared himself a candidate for office but withdrew on September 1. The city is re-printing ballots for the primary but there may still be some early-voters who will see his name on the ballot.A primary election will be held on Tuesday, September 15th. Providence City residents will be asked to vote on their top two favorite candidates. The four candidates receiving the most votes after the primary will advance to the general election. Providence City Mayoral candidates include Lance Campbell and Ron Liechty.
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