EAGLE MOUNTAIN Most cities have a fair share of controversy, but Eagle Mountain's city government seems to be a magnet for dubious characters, and one councilman wants that to stop.
David Lifferth wants the city to require mandatory background checks for any candidate running for an elected office. Lifferth posted his letter to the city last week on his personal Web site, www.davidlifferth.com, asking the mayor and his staff to draft an ordinance that can be offered to the City Council.
Lifferth pointed to recent events involving mayoral candidate Richard Culbertson and councilwoman Linn Strouse as part of his reason for asking for the ordinance. Culbertson's real estate license was revoked due to real estate fraud and legal troubles. Strouse has been charged with a second-degree felony; she's accused of accepting a $10,000 gift without reporting it to the city.
The city has had nine mayors in 11 years, in a history marked by resignations and other felony charges.
In an interview with the Deseret Morning News, Lifferth said he hopes that background checks will provide a better pool of candidates.
"Eagle Mountain has a history that we need to change," he said. "(We need) to elect decent people who will do good things for the city."
Lifferth also wants the ordinance to allow everyone the opportunity to see the results of the background checks. The ordinance would give the city recorder's office more funding in order to conduct the checks.
The ordinance has yet to be written or submitted and Lifferth said he has not heard back from the mayor on whether that will be done.The process of defining an ordinance could take up to six weeks, Lifferth said.
Eagle Mountain's problems with candidates and elected officials have been long-running. William Chipman, who ran for mayor in 1999, had previously been convicted of tax fraud and served time in a minimum security prison.
In 2003, Mayor Kelvin Bailey told his wife and police he had been forced to drive to California at gunpoint. After learning that was a lie, police charged Bailey with giving a false report to police. In 2006, Mayor Brian Olsen was charged with seven felony counts of misuse of public funds.
"There's an ongoing pattern where people have gotten involved in the city and we found out later some of the problems that they had," Lifferth said. "There are ordinances on the book that could be challenged (because they were passed) without legal authority to do so."Lifferth hopes that a background check will help prevent such problems.