Smithfield mayorship, two council seats up for grabs

SMITHFIELD–Citizens gathered Wednesday evening to hear the platforms and opinions of candidates running for mayor and two city council seats. Candidates started the night off by giving a two minute personal introduction, followed by a two-minute platform statement, a question-and-answer period and a quick closing statement. City council candidate Barbara Scholes Kent began the introductions by stating her credentials as a five-year city planning commission member and a former member of the Forms of Government Committee. She was also the first person to help draft the first ordinance about preschools in Smithfield. Kent stressed her stance on education and her background in that area. With a master’s degree in special education, she said she feels she has the qualities needed to break things down and make them simple so that citizens are informed about all of the issues. After a comment on a divided Smithfield of east and west with unfair representation, she presented the idea of separate voting districts for more direct representation. “Separate not to divide, but to unite,” Kent said. Kris Monson is the incumbent candidate for one of the 4-year city council seats. Monson’s experience includes eight previous years serving on the city council, three years on the planning commission and time working with the youth council. Monson has been involved in the trails system plan, concerts in the park, open spaces, and the noise ordinance. She said people sometimes refer to her as the “quality of life councilmember.” Monson said her main goals include improving citizen involvement and council involvement with the citizens. Her idea for putting this into motion involved more committees, which she said also take pressure off city employees. Getting a new accessible library in place is another thing on Monson’s to-do list, along with preserving the old library. She also said she feels that elected officials need to get things done, which she feels not all council members have in the past. “I want my headstone to read, ‘She made a difference,’” Monson said. Council candidate Janice Mikkelsen, a 30-year Smithfield resident, served on the council four years ago and said she would like another shot to serve the city that she loves. She previously helped work on updating the cemetery ordinance and preserving open spaces. Mikkelsen said she would like to work on improving the relationship between citizens and their local government. “The us vs. them attitude needs to go,” she said. She suggested having meetings with citizens from different parts of the city on a regular basis to further understand their needs. Representing the citizens is what Mikkelsen said she‘s sees as the most important role as a council member. “You need to be willing to talk to the citizens and deal with their issues the best you can,” Mikkelsen said. Jeff Gittins is the last council candidate and was previously on the council from 1998 to 2003. He has been involved with the irrigation board and helped start the Summit Creek Commission. “Give me an assignment, put me to work and I’ll get it done,” Gittins said. His platforms include preserving open spaces and “keeping a strong watch on procedure and citizens rights.” Gittins also said he will watch over the city’s water closely. After the comment of a divided Smithfield, Gittins agreed the town should be united but said he believe their needed to be a balance on individuals on the council from different areas of the city. “Life’s different by the golf course than it is by my house,” he said. Mayoral candidate Darrell Simmons is a former board member of the Community Abuse Prevention Service Agency (CAPSA), a member of the Envision Cache County 2040 Steering Committee, and a chairman of Friends of the Smithfield Library. Simmons said his work on the Cache Valley 2040 board has helped him associate with a lot of other mayors and said he believes this will help him “be an enthusiastic voice and catalyst in bringing communities together.” Simmons platforms include supporting appropriate growth with generational planning, getting a new accessible library, and financial responsibility. “The community has to provide opportunities for all facets of life to grow,” he said. He also stressed the importance of the past work that has been done in the city and his plans to make Smithfield better for the long term. Simmons encouraged residents to remember that they have a responsibility and a right to support local government. Simmons said less than 10 percent of registered voters exercised their right in the primary election. He challenged those in attendance to go home and call 10 people and tell them to vote. “You have a say if you vote,” Simmons said. Jeanne Winn Layne is also a mayoral candidate and has been involved with saving the Smithfield Armory and getting the senior citizens programs running again. She is also a former PTA president and a former Business Association president. Layne’s platforms include bringing more businesses to the city, getting a new library without raising taxes and improving citizen relationships with government. Layne said she would like to improve downtown by increasing the amount of businesses, and suggested the thought of getting a movie theatre. She also plans on raising money for the new library through private donations. She said she believes citizens should be more aware of what the city is doing and plans to maintain an open door policy. “I love this town and I want it to grow to become the town that you as citizens want,” Layne said. The election is Nov. 3.

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