Kamas City Council race attracts enough candidates to force a primary election
Political newcomers want a seat
June 20, 2017
The Kamas City Council race has attracted enough candidates, including several political newcomers who are concerned about the city's future, to force a primary election in August.
Voters will narrow the pool for two seats on the City Council, currently held by Diane Atkinson and Kevan Todd. Two candidates will be eliminated from the field. Six residents filed for the seats, triggering the primary. The incumbents are not seeking reelection. There will not be a primary for the mayor's race. Current Todd and Matt McCormick, a former City Council member, are competing for the position.
The candidates represent a wide range of interests and experience. However, most have never held public office.
Steed said she moved to Kamas nearly 12 years ago with her husband. The couple owns an excavation company, while Steed also manages a wedding planning service that performs ceremonies at the High Star Ranch.
Steed, who has never held a public position before, chose to highlight her love for the community and professional background working as an executive director of Junior Achievement in Southern California or with the High Star Ranch as proof of her capabilities.
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"I want to give back to the community and thought I could bring my experiences and expertise I have and share it with my cute, little town," Steed said. "I want to help maintain the small-town feel everyone feels that is so important, while allowing other people to come in and feel welcome, which is not easy."
Atkinson, who has lived in Kamas his whole life and is a Salt Lake-based electrician, said he threw his hat in the ring in anticipation of the growth that is expected to encroach upon the city.
Atkinson has never held a public position before, but he said he would like to re-engage the community to encourage better involvement in the city's planning. Atkinson is not related to Diane Atkinson.
"I feel like there is going to have be some careful planning so we can have well-structured growth. It is going to happen so let's try and make it right," Atkinson said. "I hope that we can form a fair council that will listen to citizens and that there will be input from them as we try and go forward in the planning process. It seems like the council meetings I have been to there have been a couple people with special interests and just five citizens making decisions for the rest of us."
If elected, McNeil said he would bring a valuable skill set — his legal background — to the table. McNeil is from Woodland and attended law school in Las Vegas. He moved to Kamas in 2008 and currently works for the law firm Ames & Ames.
"I see this as an opportunity to make sure the city has the appropriate ordinances, zoning and codes, and to ensure that we are following them," McNeil said. "I think everything relates to growth and, related to that is, infrastructure and more than just the infrastructure, but community development.
"I feel like we have done a good job, but want to make sure we are doing what we can to attract businesses to Kamas and we need to maintain that, while sufficient zoning occurs," he said.
The former Eastern Summit County Planning Commissioner was born and raised in Kamas. He is the retired executive director for American Bucking Bull, Inc., an organization that promotes bucking bull ownership, breeding and training. Simpson lauded the work done by Kamas City Council members Atkinson and Todd, adding "I want to continue what they have done."
"I think they have done a great job and they have done well with the city's growth," Simpson said. "I am not opposed to growth I just want to make sure it is something that is taken care of by infrastructure."
Simpson pledged to address what he deemed a "serious issue" of multiple families living in single-family homes.
"My neighbors have asked if that is something that we can address and people have to understand that single-family dwellings are for single families," Simpson said. "I just want to keep Kamas's rural lifestyle, but have the amenities of what we get from growth so we don't lose our identity so the kids come back and want to live here."
Yost said she would like her children and grandchildren to be able to settle in Kamas. However, she added, "The younger generation is getting squeezed out and it's making it harder for families to continue to stay here." Yost, who works as a mortgage lender in Kamas, said she has witnessed the effect the housing market has on incoming families.
Yost, who is a Kamas native, said she remembers when the city was the focal point of the Kamas Valley. Now, she said it has fallen stagnant.
"I would like to bring a little more unity and focus back to Kamas, which is such a great place," Yost said. "There will be growth and progress, but at the meetings I've gone to it doesn't seem like it is a team effort. I just really feel like you have to plan accordingly or you will have patchwork, and I think that is what they are trying to minimize and mitigate, but I don't think they are being all-inclusive."
The sixth candidate, Garry Walker, did not return multiple messages left by The Park Record by press time.
Vote by mail
Kamas will be conducting a vote by mail election this year. Ballots will be sent July 25 and must be postmarked by Aug. 14 or placed in a dropbox through Aug. 15. The votes will be tallied Aug. 15.
Four of the candidates will go on to Election Day on Nov. 7. Coalville City and Oakley City are also holding primary elections.
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