Smithfield mayoral candidate Jeff Barnes has plans for city’s challenges

SMITHFIELD –Jeff Barnes will be retiring next year, but don’t count on him using his new free time to rest. He wants to devote it to service as the city’s mayor. His name will be on the ballot alongside current mayor Darrell Simmons during this November’s election.

Barnes said Smithfield is growing, and with that comes a lot of challenges – challenges involving services for new homes and businesses. He believes he has enough experience that makes him a good fit for Smithfield’s mayor, and having spent the last five years on the City Council is just part of it. The 30-year resident of Smithfield said he has spent the last 41 years working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service – a government job where he said he was able to serve the people. He also spent 23 years as part of the Army National Guard as a counter-intelligence agent.

Barnes said that service is something he loves, and if elected mayor, he plans on doing it full time.

“I want to devote my time to the city,” he said. “As a mayor I want to be spending every day or half a day at the city office or out and about the city. I want to be familiar with what is going on in the city and I want to take that time and be the best mayor I possibly can.”

Barnes has a list of things he wants to do if elected. It includes things like establishing a weekly farmer’s market and putting up new “Welcome to Smithfield” signs at the Main Street entrances to town – signs that are a little more eye-catching than the current ones.

He has bigger plans, too. Those include a plan involving the future of the Historic Smithfield Tabernacle, a plan for the city’s water usage and a plan to honor military veterans.

Barnes said the Historic Tabernacle is “a gem to the city.” He said a lot of money has been put into improving the pioneer-built structure during his five years on the City Council, but he believes there is a better way. He said that if Smithfield becomes recognized as a Certified Local Government (CLG) by the State Historic Preservation Office, that matching grants can be secured and put toward the Tabernacle.

According to the Utah Division of State History, in order to become a CLG, a local government must pass an approved historic preservation ordinance and appoint a historic preservation commission.

“Once we’ve done that and we’re accepted then the city can apply for funds,” Barnes said. “Like 20 cities earlier this applied for $10,000 apiece and got it. These are funds available for the historic preservation of your city.”

As for the city’s water usage, Barnes believes too much money is spent by watering the cemetery with culinary water. He wants to pipe in secondary water, much like what was done with Forrester Acres Park.

“We have 100 shares in the canal,” he said. “That’s a lot of water and we could be applying those shares on the cemetery instead of using culinary.”

Barnes said he would like to the city to look at creating a memorial where the city offices used to be. He said money was set aside for something to be installed years back, but nothing was ever done with it. He said it could be “something that would recognize the old fort that used to straddle Summit Creek” and that the city could possibly “add some military memorials as well.”

There were recent budget cuts for certain city programs like the Youth Council, the library and the Historical Society. Barnes said he would like to get back to funding more of those, especially the senior citizens program. He would also like to better manage wastewater by using the city’s canals.

Barnes considers his biggest accomplishments on the City Council to be the addition to the Smithfield Carnegie Library and the construction of the new splash pad in town, but he is also pleased with the work he did to help put historical markers on city buildings. He said he enjoyed the work he did as a member the city’s Tree Board, where he was able to help register the city’s trees into a database and help create and improve parks.

If Barnes is elected mayor, he said he is looking forward to getting involved in the areas and departments he hasn’t been a part of yet.

“I’ve been thinking about it for five years, and I’m running for mayor because I can,” he said. “We leave in a society where we can serve people and make decisions on running for elected office. I want to be a good mayor. I know I can be, so I’m running.”

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