Kamas’ municipal candidates vie for city’s top positions
List includes incumbent Francis City Councilor and Planning Commissioner, four newcomers
October 17, 2017
The six candidates who are seeking elected office in Kamas City have contrasting ideas for how to help the city maintain its status as the commercial hub of the Kamas Valley as the city teeters on a growth precipice.
The city's top position and two, four-year seats, held by Rod Smith and Diane Atkinson, are up for reelection. Four-term Mayor Lew Marchant announced several months ago that he would not be seeking another term. Smith and Atkinson are also relinquishing their positions.
The candidate list includes incumbent Kamas City Councilor Kevan Todd and Matt McCormick vying for mayor. Kamas Planning Commissioner Garry Walker and Kim Steed, Amy Yost and Allen McNeil are in contention for City Council.
Race for city's top position
Todd has lived in Kamas since 1979 and is a four-term City Council member. He owns and operates his own general contracting business and volunteers with Summit County Search and Rescue.
Todd said he is running for mayor because the city's leadership needs continuity.
"Kamas is kind of a unique little town because we are the commercial hub of the Valley," he said. "We don't have a lot of ground that we are going to mass produce a bunch of residential. Our growth will mostly be commercial."
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Highlighting his years on the Council, Todd said he is very familiar with the city's General Plan and the plan's intent in regards to zones and annexation declaration areas.
"One of the big issues is we have a school bond up right now and whether that passes," he said. "The South Summit School District purchased 150 acres west of Kamas and only five of it is inside city limits. That is going to impact our sewer and our water. We do have a master plan for our roads, but we are going to have to work with the school to be careful about traffic circulation in Kamas."
McCormick works as a lab manager for the Utah Department of Transportation's region materials lab, which tests road materials. He has lived in Kamas his entire life and is a former two-term City Council member. He stressed the significance of helping the city maintain its rural atmosphere and encouraging community involvement.
"I think that finding a way to create more community involvement is critical," he said. "It feels like, in talking with residents, they might feel a bit disconnected, and maybe we can find a way to make them more a part of the community."
McCormick suggested creating a citizen's advisory council to help advise elected leaders on issues and projects that come before the city. Additionally, McCormick said government transparency is a growing concern.
"City officials need to be open in what is going on and communicate well," he said. "I think part of that is being consistent in the way policies and ordinances are applied. We need to help people understand the reasoning behind the way things are applied."
City Council contenders
Steed owns an excavation company in town with her husband and runs her own wedding company. She has lived in Kamas for 13 years.
Steed said the city needs new faces and opinions on the City Council. She said while the city experiences growth, it will have to adapt. But, she said, that does not have to detract from the community's core values.
"We want to keep the small family businesses and beautify Main Street," she said. "I'm willing to fight. I'm not willing to sit back. I will be out there working with people and helping them clean up the trash in the neighborhoods and talking to people to keep our small town a welcoming community."
McNeil has lived in the Kamas city limits for about nine years, although he grew up in nearby Woodland. He is an attorney who recently began working for the Utah Division of Real Estate.
"I want to make sure that Kamas maintains the characteristic that we have," he said. "But, we need to allow people to come and do what they need to with their land and be part for the management of the growth."
McNeil acknowledged the distinction Kamas Valley residents draw between the east and west sides of the county. He said people have been displeased with High Star Ranch, but added, "Maybe they have not been informed of the benefits that development produced for the city."
"We want to have a lot of room to grow," he said. "We have a lot of property that can be annexed as the city continues to grow. But, I think there is a valid concern about allowing people to stack too much and develop too much in one space."
Yost, who works in financial services and mortgage lending, has lived in Kamas her entire life. Over the years, she said she has experienced the challenges that come with growth firsthand.
"I've worked and lived here and have seen different changes in my experience with what I do," she said. "I think our community needs to be a strong leader in the Valley and support our citizens."
Yost said she has a vision for the future generations and families that want to stay in Kamas. If elected, she said, she will help fellow leaders find a balance with the growth.
"Growth is coming," she said. "I'm concerned about that and how it has been over the last few years. I think we have gotten out of balance and out of touch with what's important to our community and the citizens. We have our codes and things like that, but we need to look at those and if they are in the best interest of our community."
Summit County is conducting the upcoming municipal election through the mail. Ballots were scheduled to be sent to registered voters on Tuesday, Oct. 17. They must be postmarked and returned no later than Nov. 6. Ballots can also be placed in drop boxes on Election Day.