Monday, September 19, 2011

Where I stood! #6

I had a busy week and went out of town over the weekend and haven't been able to update this in order to thank everybody involved in the elections. 

Sadly in the coming days you won't be able to see my marvelous signs as I lost and have to take them down.  I'm glad I ran and it was a great experience and hopefully not my last.  I would like to run again in the future and hope I will be in a position to be able to do so. 

While disappointed that I will not be able to participate in the coming election as a candidate, I take solace in the fact that I didn't come in last place and was able to hold my own against some candidates that are life-long and long-time residents of St. George.  A good showing for the guy who's only lived here 1.5 years and doesn't really know anybody.

Don't forget about me 'cause in 2 years, look out!

Thanks to all those who supported me and voted for me in the primaries, I appreciate it.

-Matt Mortenson
(former candidate for St. George City Council:(

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Where I Stand #5

Well, I just finished up with another forum.  This one was put on by the Sun River Community.  I certainly appreciated it more than the one the other night.  The moderator allowed everyone to answer questions and those in attendance who had questions mostly had questions directed toward the entire candidacy.  There were fewer "bobblehead" questions, you know the type.  Where it's a question everyone is going to say the same thing and you go down the whole line everyone bobbing their heads up and down all agreeable and echoing the same sentiments.  Those questions kill me.

Overall it was a great experience and I just have to say that those Sun River people were well organized and put on a great event/forum.  One of the comments from the attendees concerned Pickle Ball.  I can see why you'd want to pickle a cucumber but can't for the life of me see why you'd want to pickle a ball:).  Thank you,  I'll be here all week, or at least till primaries on Tuesday. 

Ok, now the nitty gritty, I do take my candidacy seriously and have some concerns about our City.  Like I told those in attendance today, I may be relatively new to St. George and it is not my past, it is my Future and I want to ensure that we have the best community possible.  I think that is a key term.  Community,  I appreciate the sense of community that goes with St. George it is certainly more friendly and personable than Phoenix ever was.  It is important to maintain the sense of community while encouraging growth and economic stability for everyone here.  In order to foster community and maintain it, I believe that the council needs to be more open to the public, easy to access, willing to take every one's concerns in.  That is what I hope to bring to the council, the ability and willingness to listen.  To go the extra mile to ensure that the proper decision is made and people don't feel as if they weren't heard or even better not listened too.  Even if the decision goes against someone or they are not happy with it, at least they will know that someone really took time to listen to their side of the story.

Where I Stand #4

I attended another forum last night, put on by the AOPC (association of PUD's & Condominiums).  It was an interesting forum with a different type of format.  I'll be honest I was a bit disappointed by the way it played out.  It turned into a very incumbent-centric Q&A.  A couple of other non-incumbent candidates and I commented on the lack of equality in time and direct questions allowed to each candidate, with the incumbents getting the lion's share.  I was only given one question directly from the moderator and it was a (paraphrase) "do you believe that the city should make sure that building codes are followed and adhered too?" type of question.  Well, yes.  What other answer would come from someone, that we shouldn't follow building codes?  Not a well though out question in my opinion, but c'est la vie. 

I don't believe it was the forum's intention of allowing the incumbents so much time and questions and I appreciate them holding the event, as I can only imagine how much effort and time goes into holding such an event.  There was a good turn-out and I appreciated that at least people got to see my face if not hear much of my voice.

We discussed the carousel at length.  My position is that it probably isn't the right time to introduce such a seemingly extravagant purchase for the city, but I also understand it's intentions.  You know what they say about the road to hell though, don't you. 

I do believe that a little should be explained as to why and how it came to pass and what I myself learned of it at the forum, and you can then form your own opinion of the project.  A percentage of tax revenues collected specifically from the downtown area are earmarked for reinvestment in that downtown area.  The current council believed the carousel would be an anchor and draw people to downtown to help invigorate the area.

It is my belief that in order to spur growth and gentrification of the downtown we need to make that area more business friendly with less licensing restrictions and even incentivize businesses to the area.  The downtown is extremely important to a city.  It is where a good chunk of out of town dollars are spent.  That's money not already in our community being put into our community.  People from out of town look to the downtown area as a place to go and spend their hard earned money.  They don't necessarily want to go to River Rd, they have big box stores and chain restaurants where they come from, they want a different experience and that is what a downtown typically provides.  We need a strong and robust downtown to not only increase tax revenues but also to draw people to St. George and spend their money in our community, not others.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where I Stand #3

Last night there was a candidate forum at the library, put on by the Washington County Minority Coalition.  It was my first forum as I was unable to attend a prior meet the candidate night.  I really enjoyed myself and was also able to see a few issues the current and next city council will face.  St. George is not a very diverse place but I believe that overwhelming majority of people in the area are welcoming and accepting of diversity.

Like I said, I learned a lot and was able to meet all of the candidates.  Did you know that there is no bus service in St. George on Sunday?  I didn't, I think that it's crazy that a city the size of St. George does not have a full week of public transportation.  Many people and student rely on public transportation to get to jobs, school, and to do their errands on a daily basis.  Apparrently those who utilize and need public transport are either stuck at home on Sunday or relegated to walking in the 100*+ heat.  A few of the candidates and current council members said that there wasn't enough money in the budget to allow for a Sunday bus schedule.  Tell me exactly where we found the money for a $300,000 carousel but can't get a few buses to run at least a half schedule on Sunday?  I don't get it.  This is the kind of thinking that I feel needs to be examained in a city.  I feel that we ignore the little guy in St. George and cater to those who's economic status is above a certain level.

I still believe in St. George and think it's a great place to live.  But we can do better.  It's my hope that I can help out in that aspect and help the council see that everybody deserves a voice and benefits from the city they call home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where I Stand #2

The dreaded Code Enforcement.  This is a hot button issue for many residents of our community, myself included.  How many have received ominous letters in the mail telling them that they had better clean up their act or face fines.  I have.  My wife (Angie) and I bought our house in the downtown area last May.  It was a foreclosure and had been vacant for about 10 months.  We had not been in the house for week when we got a letter from Code Enforcement telling us that we had to take care of the weeds in our backyard or face fines.  Now I can appreciate wanting to keep our City looking good and controlling pests and noxious weeds, but I ask the question; did the City ever send letters to the bank (who owned the vacant property for 10 months) and ask them to control the weeds?  Or did they just wait and pounce on the little guy once I had purchased the property?  So my wife and I went out and bought a trimmer so we could tackle the weed problem.  We didn't own a lawn mower or trimmer yet because when we lived in Phoenix we had a xeriscape (no grass, drought tolerant plants and gravel) landscape.  Now some may be thinking, "well you should take care of your weeds, they're a blight on the neighborhood."  True, but let's keep in mind that the weeds in question were in my Backyard.  That means the Code Enforcer went into my backyard without permission, took photos and then proceeded to send that letter.  I don't think that's right.  I have heard countless stories from others about code enforcement and their tactics and I think we need to strive for a balance between maintaining the beauty and quality of our City and common sense.  Code Enforcement should not be seen or utilized as revenue producer and the fines can sometimes be over-the-top.

If you have any stories about Code Enforcement or comments on the issue, let us hear them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where I Stand #1

I've started this blog in order to let people know the areas I feel St. George could improve upon.  I've chosen a blog over a traditional website because I like that it is easily updated and not just full of stock information about me.  Here we can interact, a website would be good for a quick perusal and 5 minutes of information, with this blog we can constantly discuss the issues and get comments on the best way proceed.  I plan on updating as fequent as I am able and when there is something to comment on. 

With the economy in dumps, I know that this is the primary issue and concern of many people throughout the city and region.  St. George to me is a place where you want to be, we have so many advantages from our quality of life, a 4-year college, our great weather (I know that being in the dog days of summer, we're pretty much tired of the heat, but hey it's almost done), and willing workforce.  I look at other cities and towns in Utah and see larger and varied employers.  Cedar City has Smead and GenPak.  American Fork and Lehi are attracting new companies and business.  I look at St. George and see mostly a service based economy that rely's on construction and tourism.  I feel we need more diversity in our employer base.  Specifically light manufacturing and tech companies.  The question is; why haven't we attracted these types of companies that are now setting up in other cities?  The answer; I don't think that they know about us and/or don't think of St. George as a business area but a vacation area.  I say; why can't we be both?  How? you say....well let me tell you.  We need to get our name out there, this involves marketing St. George as a potential business destination.  Funding our business development budget will pay dividends over the long haul as companies and employers will know about us and keep us in consideration when deciding where to start up or relocate.  Also, we need to insure that our fair city is business friendly by cutting the red tape.  It is important that a business not be frustrated and overwhelmed by too much paperwork, licensing fees, and impact fees.  Because if it's too much effort or difficult to setup shop here then they'll just go somewhere else and we cannot afford to have that happen.

What do you think?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting Started

For those who stumble upon this page or come here through Facebook.  This a disappointing page right now, I have yet to add anything of substance.  I am still awaiting my signs and needed to setup accounts so that I know what to put on my signs.  Please check back in the next week and I should have some data on me and my "platform" for running for St. George City Council.  Tell your friends to tell their friends to tell their friends and soon the whole world will be ITK  (that's "in the know" for those who aren't ITK):)