Oakley City Council race produces diverse candidate field
List include an incumbent, former sheriff
The Oakley City Council race has produced a diverse field of candidates who will be on the ballot for the August primary election, including an incumbent council member and a former Summit County Sheriff.
In August, voters will be narrowing the field for two seats on their City Council. Two, four-year seats, held by Steve Wilmoth and Kendall “Tiny” Woolstenhulme, are up for reelection. Three candidates will be eliminated from the pool. Seven Oakley residents filed for the open seats, triggering the primary.
Former Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said he is hoping to use his experience to help usher in a new era of city government. He said the city is standing at a crossroads and he wants to be involved in that discussion to represent the constituency.
“I think we need to manage growth. One of the things Park City has done a good job of, as I’ve watched it over the past 25 to 30 years, is maintaining the integrity of what the community is while experiencing growth,” Edmunds said. “We won’t be able to curb the growth completely.”
Edmunds admitted his 12-year record as sheriff is a “double-edged sword” because the generally controversial position creates “friends and foes.”
“For better or worse, everyone knows the name,” he said. “What they are getting with me, if they elect me, is someone who understands government on a complex level and has participated in the process for a long time. Someone who understands public budgeting, the separation of power doctrines and someone who is sophisticated when it comes to government operations.”
Eric Woolstenhulme, who is self-employed and has lived in Oakley his entire life, said he wants to become involved in city politics to help maintain a “small-town feel” among the impending growth. Woolstenhulme, who is the son of current City Council member Kendall “Tiny” Woolstenhulme, has never held public office.
“I think I have a good perspective on things and how cities run since my dad was previously on the City Council and I know from his experience,” Woolstenhulme said. “I care for my community and I’m open to change and open to other aspects of growth, but it has to be done the right way so it benefits the town and everyone who lives in the community.”
Incumbent Steve Wilmoth said he supports sustainable growth. But, he added, “We have to come up with a plan to make sure we have the capacity for that growth.” Wilmoth was appointed to the City Council in December to fill Amy Rydalch’s position.
“Development is coming and we have to watch that and it will all start with our water and sewer. It’s all there and things are fine, but I think there is some improvements that can be made,” Wilmoth said. “I think the whole area can experience growth and stay small, if you will. I just want to be a part of that and I want to be their voice.”
Steve Butler said he has lived in Oakley for nearly 20 years as a small-business owner, including the Road Island Diner. Butler, who has never held public office before, said he wants to help maintain the city’s growth to encourage open space and trails.
“The way to do that is to improve our infrastructure, sewer mostly. We have one of the most advanced sewer systems in the state of Utah, but only a small portion of the city is even on it,” Butler said. “I just think I am a fair and reasonable person who supports managed and controlled growth.”
Stephanie Woolstenhulme is currently in her second term as planning commissioner. Woolstenhulme, who has lived in Oakley for nearly 20 years, said she wants to preserve the city’s access to open space, maintain a city center and “tight-knit community” atmosphere.
“The development of our community is one of my top priorities and the biggest thing we are facing now,” Woolstenhulme said. “To maintain the standard of living we all enjoy I think we have to have a strict city plan and really adhere to our zoning ordinances the way we always have. We will see our community grow, but we can still stay consistent with those standards.”
First-term Oakley City Planning Commissioner and former Bountiful police officer Richard Bliss said his experience has familiarized him with city operations, including budgeting and road maintenance.
“I think there are some infrastructure issues that need to be addressed and updated roads are always an issue, but you have to determine what are the priorities and where can the money be best used,” Bliss said. “I think you have to look at the growth based on what infrastructure is available and whether the roads can handle the growth or the utilities can handle the growth. You can’t paint it with a broad brush and say this is what is done everywhere.”
Chris Hanson, a two-term planning commissioner, said he doesn’t feel Oakley’s current leaders are looking at the future of the community and are, instead, “stuck in the past.” Hanson said he has lived in Oakley for more than 10 years and doesn’t intend on living anywhere else.
“We have a generation of ranchers that are aging and their children don’t have an interest in ranching. Developers are going to come in and do a lot more houses than people expect,” Hanson said. “I feel like we need to look at this growth. It’s coming so how do we help the city and citizens benefit the most? The way we do that is by planning for it and making sure that we get public spaces and that we get trails and good transportation plans.
Oakley City will be a 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 on Aug. 15. The votes will be tallied Aug. 15.
Four of the candidates will go on to the General Municipal Election to be held Tuesday, Nov. 7. Coalville City and Kamas City are also holding primary elections.
There will not be a primary for the mayor’s race. Mayor Wade Woolstenhulme and Ron Bowen, a former Oakley City Council member, have filed for the seat.
The pad locks to 30 different storage units and trailers at a facility in the Snyderville Basin were cut sometime between April 13 and 15.