David Rodeback's Blog

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Monday, November 7, 2005

The American Fork Citizen doesn't endorse candidates. Maybe they think it's bad for business. Maybe they want people to like them. Maybe they simply think it's fair. I try to be fair; some folks already don't like me and probably never will; and I'm not trying to sell newspapers. I've already analyzed American Fork's candidates here at the blog, so my sentiments are not much of a secret, anyway. Therefore, my endorsements:


It will surprise no one that my first vote goes to Heidi Rodeback. Besides having the good fortune to have been married to her for more than 17 years, I have worked with her in City and non-profit contexts and have a pretty good idea what she's made of politically. No one does her homework more thoroughly than she; no one will try harder to be even-handed in considering disparate interests or to conserve taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. She has the intelligence to comprehend the import of specific issues and decisions in the context of a larger vision. She understands the importance of competent and continual public communication and has the speaking and writing skills to communicate well. She has already demonstrated for years that she is able to devote many hours to community service without neglecting her family or other significant obligations. She has run a clean campaign, prefering to speak positively of her own views and issues rather than negatively of her opponents. (I know what a clean campaign is. In 1996 I managed the campaign of a Republican running for New York State Assembly. After it was over, the local press praised both campaigns in that race, which they said was the only race of interest to Ithaca where the candidates stuck to the issues and didn't go personal and negative about each other.) Once in a while, I am told that I should run for city council, but the fact of the matter is, Heidi is better suited to it. She will do well for American Fork, as she already has in other capacities.

My second vote goes to Terry Fox. He, too, has the intelligence and communication skills I value in a member of the City Council, and he has years and years of experience inside City administration, which I think will be particularly valuable in the next several years. I applaud his sense of the importance of modernizing the City's policies and practices. My experience with his character is exactly the opposite of the bitter, dishonorable rumors some have been spreading. I fully expect to disagree with his stance on some issues, as I do with anyone I might vote for, but he is the sort of leader I think American Fork needs several of, as we try to wrench our government into the 21st century, and make the transition from small town to small city as smoothly and sensibly as possible. He, too, has run a clean campaign, as far as I can tell, and it takes more than a little self-restraint and courage to do so -- or to campaign at all -- when you know that you will be targeted by people who care less for truth and good government than for political expediency and personal vendettas.

That said, I note that incumbents Juel Belmont and Jimmie Cates are good people. I like them. They have served the City well in a variety of roles over the years. I have worked with both of them in their official capacities. But their visions of their roles in city government and of that government generally consistently strike me as belonging to that small-town phase which we are leaving, not to the modern, small-city phase which has begun. I do not doubt that they will, if elected, advance their good causes. But I think Rodeback and Fox will advance them more effectively.


My vote will go to Dale Gunther. I have worked with him in other contexts and am confident that he will serve the city intelligently and honorably, particularly with his financial expertise. I disagree with him on some points, but I look forward to the maturity of his judgment and his well-exampled concern for the long-term welfare of American Fork. I believe that in each instance he will do what thinks is right -- which may not always be the same thing you or I think is right. But I am happy to live with that in my elected officials.

My experience with Marc Ellison is limited to numerous meet-the-candidate events. I don't question his character, good intentions, or intelligence. But based on what I have seen, I am not confident that his political sensibilities have matured sufficiently to allow him to act realistically and coherently in pursuit of a broad vision of American Fork's future. He seems to have firm conservative principles, with most of which I agree. But I have not seen in his rhetoric a consistent ability to apply those principles realistically to actual issues.


In about 25 hours, as I write this, I will have voted for one of two excellent mayoral candidates, either Heber Thompson or Shirl Lebaron. As I said the other day, I still have not firmly decided which. I may disappoint some readers, but I am not endorsing one over the other here today. Predictably, however, this indecision will not stop me from discussing the matter further, to wit:

  • If you think a wealth of business management experience is just what American Fork needs right now, vote for Thompson. He has a lot more than LeBaron.
  • If you think that depth and breadth of government experience matters more than corporate experience, vote for LeBaron. He has a lot more than Thompson.
  • If you think that buying and running the Internet broadband system was a bad move for the City (I don't), vote for Thompson. He said that he wants to see a good business plan, and if the system can't make money, we should dump it. LeBaron is a strong proponent of the system. (I want to keep the system, but I do want to see a good business plan.)
  • If you think that the Internet broadband system is a valuable public utility and American Fork's major claim on being a high-tech city in a high-tech county, lean towards LeBaron, unless you are confident that Thompson will see its economic virtues and potential upon further study, as I expect.  
  • If you think it's time to act on a pressurized irrigation system, after years of study and talk, vote LeBaron. If you think it needs more study, or study by a new administration, vote Thompson.
  • If you think LeBaron should have done much better promoting his issues already, as a member of the City Council, vote Thompson. If you think LeBaron did the best he reasonably could in the face of Mayoral indifference, opposition, and single-handed domination of the Council agenda, vote LeBaron.
  • If you think LeBaron's position on nuisance abatement and his recent enthusiasm for improving downtown on a shoestring are sincere, not just campaign rhetoric, you could comfortably vote for LeBaron. If downtown is especially important to you, and you doubt LeBaron's commitment to it or understanding of its significance to the city as a whole, vote Thompson.
  • If you believe the rumors about LeBaron's wanting to build a mall on 200 West near the golf course, or that he is running principally to advance his own interests as a developer, for example, or if you really believe that Thompson wants to funnel taxpayers' money away from everything and everywhere else in the City and put it in the pockets of downtown businessmen and the arts programs, I worry that you are voting at all. You may be too inattentive or too gullible to be trusted with self-government.

Whichever way you vote, I can't say you're wrong. As for me, I promise to tell you how I voted if my vote is the deciding vote, which it almost certainly won't be. Otherwise, I may not. Is that a deficiency of the political courage I tout? Perhaps. I do have to work with both gentlemen, in one context or another, no matter who wins -- except that I see it more as a matter of getting to work with both. The question is still open; we'll see how the next 25 hours go.

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