Mayoral Candidate Believes Respect, Diplomacy Vital

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Unlike many of the candidates for town council, Jon Barber has never run for public office.

"I have never been in politics and none of my family has ever been, and that probably will set me apart from all of the other candidates for council and mayor," Barber said. "This is intended as a joke: we've always worked for a living."

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Jon Barber

But Barber, who is a superintendent for SRJ Homes, is not joking when he talks about the issues that made him decide to run for mayor.

"It was actually a gradual decision," he said. "Over the 11 years (I've lived here), I've watched the council and what was going on, seeing that almost no matter what the people had to say, the council still had its own agenda," he said. "When the people say they want their streets fixed, some council member has another project he wants to do, (so) they build a building.

"The library, the police station, the fire station were all needed, but the people wanted to get some streets fixed and some council members wanted their name on a building."

But it was the issue of Star Valley water that finally pushed Barber into action.

"It really is more than just a water issue because the biggest issue we have, I feel, has been a lack of respect by the town government and even some staff for the citizens," he said. "And that goes farther than just the citizens of Payson. It goes for the whole community, because community-wide we take in so much more area than the town limits."

Barber elaborates on his blog (voiceofpayson.blogspot.com).

"I have made it no secret that I understand the concerns Star Valley residents have about someone pumping water from their back yard," he wrote. "It's not a situation I would want to be in either. It is very unfortunate that time and effort weren't spent to deal with the issue in a neighborly way so we wouldn't be in the situation we are right now."

Barber believes the current council has created a big mess that its successor will have to clean up.

"Star Valley just wants to know that they don't have to worry about running out of water because someone else took it," he wrote. "It really is that simple.

"(But) it does make for a challenging time ahead for the mayor and council. It's always harder to fix something than it is to do it right the first time. Diplomacy anyone? How about some respect thrown in?"

But Barber understands that growth is a multi-faceted issue.

"We can't depend on (construction) forever for jobs, for income for the town, for whatever, because sooner or later we're going to come up against a real wall," he said.

He believes the town should pursue Blue Ridge water with more intensity than it has to date, but he also believes the town's business base must be diversified.

"One of the solutions is (new) businesses to come in that will fit the environment, and that makes it tough, because some of the businesses that want to come here need water, they need a lot of space," he said. "We're going to have to look at smaller businesses that can come in and produce a product that goes back out. That's one of the things that has to replace construction."

While he's never run for office, Barber says he is not devoid of government experience. He has been a member of the Building Advisory Board since 1998 and its chairman the past four years. He also attended the Payson Citizen's Leadership Academy and participated in the first Payson Town Hall meeting.

He also considers his work ethic a positive.

"If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right," he said.

It's a lesson he learned growing up poor.

"We never expected handouts from anybody," he said. "We were poor, but we weren't made to feel poor."

Finally, he emphasizes that the fact that he is in the construction business should not be held against him.

"I don't have any coalition or special interest group backing me," he said, "financially or otherwise. I'm independent. I'm my own man."

For more information, or to contribute to Barber's campaign, visit his blog.

"I've got a blog as opposed to just a Web site," he said. "A blog is a little more interactive."

This story is part of an ongoing series of articles about local candidates in the March 14 primary.

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