Last week we were pretty negative on Summit County Council candidate Craig Williams’ appearance on KPCW. We didn’t (and still don’t) agree with his stances on how he would improve relations with the east-side of Summit County, County finances, and the General Plan. This morning his opponent in the election, Chris Robinson, appeared on KPCW and we thought we would provide some random thoughts on questions he answered during the interview:
- Mr Robinson described himself as a co-owner of the Ensign Group. During previous elections, Mr Robinson’s land development and cattle business background came up. Interestingly we haven’t heard any concerns about that. Maybe his tenure on the Council have laid those fears to rest?
- Speaking of business interests, while we were looking to see if anyone was bringing up his business background, we did find that Mr Robinson appears to partly own a non-profit water company in North Salt Lake (Oquirrh Mountain Water). We don’t know exactly why this bugs us. It’s likely because Mr Robinson negotiated the Weber Basin water agreement and we weren’t aware of this connection (maybe others were). That being said, we can’t put our finger on why it would be a conflict of interest. Some might even say that the experience he has there is beneficial. It just took us aback a bit.
- Leslie Thatcher from KPCW asked Mr Robinson about his biggest successes in office. He led with the increase in open space during his tenure as one of the the biggest achievements. Most people would probably agree with that.
- Ms Thatcher then typically follows up with a question about the impact open space has on affordable housing, and she did here too. Mr Robinson said there was affordable housing added in places like the Village at Silver Creek and Liberty Peak Apartments. We understand Ms Thatcher’s line of questioning and understand how less available land drives up prices. However, it seems like the real culprit in the lack of new affordable housing is the ability to pay a fee in lieu of building. Instead of building affordable housing, you simply pay money. The County then chooses how to use this money but rarely does it build a new set of affordable houses or condos. If Mr Robinson, or anyone, really wanted affordable housing to accompany all development, they would work to get the fees-in-lieu option removed from the development code. However, we’re not sure what portion of residents here actually want that.
- Ms Thatcher asked Robinson about the interaction with the east-side. He said it was getting better. In our opinion, it appears that it has. We’re not sure if that is directly due to Mr Robinson but he is part of the team making that happen.
- Ms Thatcher asked him whether the General Plan should be advisory or binding. He said it should be advisory because otherwise there would be two sets of codes competing and that would cause problems. We agree. It took something like four years to make an advisory General Plan. We can’t fathom how long it would take to make it both regulatory in nature and bullet proof.
- We think Mr Robinson left out his most valuable contribution to the County Council when asked by Ms Thatcher. Over the past couple of decades it appears the County has got itself into bad contracts more than once. We have witnessed Mr Robinson go line by line through 50 to 60 pages of contracts during a meeting, nit-picking every detail — so much so that other council members have asked if he could do that before the meeting. Yet, this diligence has likely saved the County already and will continue to over the coming years. Even if you don’t like Mr Robinson’s politics, this may be reason enough to vote for him.
So as we always say, we don’t endorse candidates. Everyone has their own experiences and issues that matter to them. We just hope in the upcoming election you’ll rise up to make the decision for the candidate that you think will serve your needs the best — whether that’s Craig Williams or Chris Robinson.