I feel that I can lead this community in ways no other leader can. I think that my age is a benefit in this society, and I understand my past is a problem for some constituents. … But I do feel that my experiences with the system can actually help me to make the system better. —Joshua Hoggan
ROY — Joshua Hoggan looked nervous.
He paused to take a deep breath as he read a prepared statement Monday in front of TV cameras and reporters, all crammed into a small, barren room at Roy Municipal Center.
"The state and federal government have screened our calls for help, and they have sent them straight to voicemail," he read, his eyes not leaving his script. "We must no longer wait on them, and we must support our citizens ourselves. We must become a sustainable city, a model city, which other cities all around the world try to become."
In less than two minutes, Hoggan darted out the door, insisting he would not take questions.
In January 2012, Hoggan was arrested when it was discovered he and a classmate were developing a plot to detonate a bomb as students gathered for an assembly at Roy High School. As part of a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty in juvenile court to use of a weapon of mass destruction, a first-degree felony, and was sentenced to six months in a youth prison.
Now, the 18-year-old is running for mayor.
Reporters corralled the reluctant would-be politician as he headed out of the building, all vying to ask the obvious question: How can someone who was once considered a danger to the community present himself as a candidate to lead it?
"I feel I've been rehabilitated by our justice system," Hoggan said. "What I did back at Roy High was a mistake, and I can readily admit that. It was a mistake, it was wrong, and it was not acceptable."
The plot cooked up by Hoggan and another Roy High senior, Dallin Morgan, was based on a desire to take "revenge on the world," according to Hoggan's text messages at the time.
Throughout the case, prosecutors identified Hoggan as the leader in the scheme. Investigators said the teens had dedicated hours to an advanced flight simulator and planned to fly from Ogden-Hinckley Airport to a country where they would be safe from extradition.
Hoggan was tried as a juvenile in the case, while Morgan, who had just turned 18, was tried as an adult. Had Hoggan faced the charge as an adult, his bid for mayor would have been invalid.
Hoggan became more defensive when asked why voters could trust him, insisting that no bomb-making materials ever surfaced during the investigation. He never intended to blow up the school, he said, explaining he was "misguided" and struggling with issues that weren't being addressed.
"I've learned it's actually OK to be an outcast in high school. It's not a bad thing. I just didn't know how to deal with (problems) in high school," he said. "That's one thing that the last year and a half of my life has taught me. It taught me how to deal with my own problems so I can help people with theirs."
So why run for mayor?
"I feel that I can lead this community in ways no other leader can," Hoggan said. "I think that my age is a benefit in this society, and I understand my past is a problem for some constituents. But I do feel that my experiences with the system can actually help me to make the system better."
Hoggan was accompanied by three other teenagers he identified as his "campaign staff." They came dressed in jeans and T-shirts, one sporting a bleached-blonde fauxhawk, and were quick to hustle Hoggan into a waiting Mini Cooper and out of the parking lot before he could answer the final question that was shouted at him: "Can you affirm that you're not a danger to this community?"
Roy city manager Chris Davis chuckled as he watched the scene unfold. When Hoggan filed his intention to run on June 3, the city confirmed with the lieutenant governor's office that his candidacy was valid. So far, they haven't received any complaints from the public, Davis said.
Hoggan will go up against the incumbent Mayor Joe Ritchie and City Councilman Willard Cragun in a primary election Aug. 13.
Hoggan currently attends Weber State University and is studying political science. The same day he declared his candidacy, he created a Facebook page identifying himself as a "fiscally centric social libertarian-leaning politician" and declaring he hopes to "push our community, our state and our nation in the right direction."
He made a single public post that day on his personal profile, saying simply, "Transparency, ladies and gentlemen, is key."