Mayor, Council Hopefuls Debate

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Payson Town Council and mayoral candidates faced off against each other and the public Friday at high noon during the Republican Women's Candidates' Forum at Mario's Restaurant.


After brief three-minute speeches on their platforms and plans, the four mayoral and six council candidates squared off in a question-and answer-period, fielding written questions from the public about water, growth, campaign finances and town improvements.


Incumbent councilmember Jack Monschein said he had concerns about funding water once it's found in the forest.


"If we hit a gusher in the forest, how'll we pay to bring it back?," he said. "I believe we should support a reasonable balance."


Monschein reiterated his campaign theme and told the large audience that he would continue to be honest with them.


Council candidate Hilda Crawford told the crowd that she's been accused of being anti-growth and said it's simply not true. "I believe in progress just as the next person does," she said. "Soon there'll be a four-lane highway, and, yes, it will increase availability to our town."


Bryan Siverson, who is running for one of three council seats, said his involvement with politics is just an extension of what he's done in town for the past 16 years as the owner of a small business.


Siverson said his platform is "to manage water, plan growth and diversify the town's economy."

He said he supports plans to improve the town's dangerous road conditions.


When asked how he would pursue funding for the Green Valley Redevelopment Project, council candidate Dick Wolfe told the audience about the Town Council's 10-year financial plan which depends primarily on grants. "I'd say 90 percent is grants," Wolfe said.


Answering a question about which is more important -- a new water supply or encouraging new business -- mayoral candidate and present councilmember Ray Schum said he thinks the public might be misinterpreting the term "economic development."


Incumbent councilmember Barbara Brewer and Wolfe agreed that balancing an adequate supply of water with economic development is not an easy issue.


Incumbent Mayor Vern Stiffler told the audience that the present water supply would be met at 18,000 people. "The supply and demand thing is set at 18,000 people," he said. "How fast do you want to get there?"


Jack Jasper, who is also running for mayor, said, "Don't forget that the retirement community is a mailbox economy for our town."


Jasper later explained that everyone who has moved to town who receives a monthly check spends much of that income in town and provides financial support in taxes. He said the revenue the town receives from those who have moved here is beneficial to the budget process. Ruby Finney, a council candidate, said, "Economic development also requires water. Every time we bring in a hotel or motel, we're bringing in a high water user."


Crawford said, "Our streets are what we pay taxes for."


Lanyi also talked about the town's policy of paying cash. "Why pay cash for land trades when we can get low-interest loans?" he said.


Schum said that for the past four years, the town has paid cash for everything.


Stiffler said he went into the office of mayor four years ago as "a cash man."


"And I'm still a cash man," he said. "As long as I'm in office, we're going to use cash."


On the subject of impact fees for new buildings, Wolfe said he doesn't feel the fees are fair the way they're presently mandated. "For a young family just starting out, it's too much a barrier to affordable housing," Wolfe said.


Stiffler said Wolfe was talking about socialism -- "taking from the rich and giving to the poor."

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