TAYLORSVILLE — The Taylorsville City Council plans to select a new mayor Wednesday to fill the vacancy left by Russ Wall, who resigned to become Salt Lake County's director of public works and regional development.
The City Council will conduct interviews with the 14 candidates and then vote for who will fill the remaining year of the mayor's term.
Here is a brief snapshot of each candidate and their arguments for why they should be appointed mayor:
• Daniel Armstrong, 60, an accountant, said he would manage the city's affairs without political expediency. “We have a full-time mayor, a full-time city manager and five city councilmen. I'm wondering if we need all of that. We don't need a lifetime politician. The goal would be to get in, make some positive changes hopefully, and get out. … I'm not going to run for re-election,” he said.
• Cher Bailey's idea of a good city is a clean city. Her agenda includes a rigorous cleanup routine for Taylorsville's infrastructure and recreation areas. "I've been involved since before Taylorsville was a city," she said. "All I want is a beautiful, clean, fun Taylorsville."
• Daniel Fazzini, 47, a manager and accountant for a social services business, said he's generally happy with the direction the city is moving, and he believes his lack of political experience will work to his advantage. “I'll be able to use a fresh set of eyes,” he said. “I don't have any political baggage.”
• Jon Fidler, 42, a software developer, said he felt compelled to apply for the position because he believes the city's budget is out of control. Fidler said he's particularly passionate about ensuring that residents don't pay more than necessary for fire services. “As mayor, the first thing I'd do is fix our spending problem,” he said.
• Israel Grossman, 52, a supply chain procurement professional, said he believes Taylorsville won't reach any of its economic objectives without setting safety as its highest priority. “Obviously, public safety ought to be first and foremost in any administration,” he said. “It'd also be important to make it a destination city.”
• Laura Hyte-Richens, 45, an intensive care nurse, is quick to bring up the subject of property taxes and how to keep them manageable. “It's already a struggle as it is without raising them,” she said. “I have been seeing small companies slowly going out of business.”
• Royce Larsen, 71, a retired Army reservist, said he believes the most important issue facing Taylorsville is the city's potential move to join the Salt Lake Fire Service District. Larsen said he doesn't understand why there is so much opposition to joining the district. “Everyone is taxed at the same rate (within the district), and Taylorsville has the greatest need right now,” he said. “It would be unfair to say we need help now but be unwilling to help others in the future. Those within the same fire service district look out for each other.”
• Reed Larson, 57, a real estate agent, said making Taylorsville a destination spot is a high priority and a responsible budget is critical to economic development. “If a family that makes between $30,000 and $50,000 per year can stick with a budget, a city with a $30 million budget should be able to stay out of debt,” he said.
• Monnica Manuel, 34, owner of a consulting firm, said she would take a nuanced approach if she were chosen as mayor. “I want to make sure first that I really understand the complexity of the issues,” she said. A political first-timer, Manuel insists she's prepared. “I've managed large groups of people and large personalities. As far as communicating and negotiating go, those are some of my skills,” she said.
• Janice Rasmussen, 71, former mayor of Taylorsville, said she would be best for the shortened term because she already has strong working relationships with members of the Utah Legislature. “I will be getting back in touch with them, and we can pick up where we left off,” she said. Rasmussen, who didn't run for a third term, said people's requests for her to return to office are proof that she knows what she's doing. “I've dealt with all the daily aspects of the job,” she said.
• Jerry W. Rechtenbach, 60, a three-term city councilman, maintains that his recent experience puts him in a unique position to help Taylorsville. “I'm concerned about the continuity of leadership in the city,” he said. “I feel that I'm most tuned in to what's going on and most qualified to handle it,” he said.
• Joseph Taggart, 31, a tax attorney, said he doesn't feel an aggressive agenda is necessary because of the short remaining time on the term. Taggart also said he believes the city is doing well. “I'm very passionate about Taylorsville city," he said. "I've lived here almost all my life. I think it's on a great course. I just think the council needs a mayor to help them stay the course.”
• Doyle Unsworth, 36, a union boilermaker, said he believes some of Taylorsville's business regulations need to be updated. “(If elected), I'd like to evaluate some of the old policies that were passed. Are they the best? Maybe they were then, but not so much any more. … We're already taxed enough as it is,” he said.
• Wendi Wengel, 29, a merchant service provider, said the City Council needs to adopt a culture of cooperation if it wants to see more businesses in the area. “There are some cities that just nit-pick small business. We can't do that,” she said. “I just felt like there's a lot to be done — attracting businesses, renovating the place.”