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Meet the Ogden City Council candidates in the 2017 election

July 31, 2017
The Ogden community gathers at the Ogden Amphitheater to listen to 14 candidates running for three Ogden City Council races on Wednesday July 26, 2017. ( BRIAN WOLFER/Special to the Standard-Examiner)

Story by CATHY MCKITRICK • Standard-Examiner Staff

Editor's note: A previous version of this story did not include Nelson Riches, who is running in the council's At Large Seat B race. We apologize for the error.

In an Aug. 15 primary, Ogden voters will trim three crowded City Council races to two candidates each. There are currently 14 candidates vying for these slots, and three of those candidates are incumbents hoping to serve another term.

We asked each of them for basic information, and as of Monday, all but two candidates — Jacob Hale and Lena Morgan — had responded. In the Aug. 15 primary, voters will narrow the field of candidates in three council races: Ward 3 from three to two, the At-Large A race from five to two; and the At-Large B race from six to two.

The responses have been edited for clarity. 

Municipal Ward 3      |    At Large Seat A      |    At Large Seat B

 


Municipal Ward 3


Doug Stephens (incumbent)

Age: 71
Education: Graduated from Weber State University with a bachelor's degree in business management and marketing.
Occupation: Retired after working in management and sales for 40 years at Z.C.M.I. and Macy’s Corp.
Website/Social Media: www.dougstephensone.comwww.facebook.com/dougstephens3154

Doug Stephens is in a three-way primary race to retain his Ogden Municipal Ward 3 City Council seat. He is challenged by newcomer Taylor Knuth and former Ogden lawmaker Neil Hansen.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? My Weber State University education has given me the knowledge and skills to analyze the many issues that come before the council. I understand and know what is best for our local and large businesses from 40 years in the business world. I have served or am currently serving on various boards, committees and councils and served as Pioneer Days director for seven years. From my experience, I have learned how to listen, respond and act to the concerns for the residents of Ogden.

What is your prime motivation for running? There are several projects that have motivated me to run for city council. (1) I would like to create an Art District from the Eccles Art Center down 25th Street to the Union Station. (2) We sell ourselves as an outdoor recreational area, so the environment is necessary for our economic development and quality of life. The investment into the parks is an asset to our neighborhoods. (3) I support public safety and the development of the Neighborhood Watch program. (4) I support fiscal sustainability and transparency for responsible government to the citizens of Ogden

As an incumbent, why do you deserve and want another term? I have the experience, knowledge and skills to achieve what is best for Ogden. We are moving in the right direction, and I will continue with the development of the city. We still have projects to complete and do. I have effective plans to complete and to achieve what needs to be done. I have worked hard on your behalf. Quality of life is why our city is great.

 

Neil Hansen

Age: 58
Education: Took courses at Weber State University, Davis Applied Technology College and the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College.
Occupation: Owns a business called ReadyMadeWater.com LLC.
Website/Social Media: www.VoteForHansen.comwww.facebook.com/VoteForHansen.

Former Ogden lawmaker Neil Hansen is running for the Municipal Ward 3 seat in Ogden against incumbent Doug Stephens and newcomer Taylor Knuth.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I am a lifelong resident of Ogden, worked for Ogden City Corporation for over 22 years and also served the citizens of Legislative District 9 in the Utah House of Representatives for 12 years. These combined experiences lend well to knowing the issues and addressing them head on.

What is your prime motivation for running? I have a passion to serve others and desire to be a representative voice for people in standing up for their ideas and concerns. Serving in the House of Representatives gave me experience in asking all of the difficult questions to ensure laws being proposed were in the best interest of its citizens, and then be accountable and vote accordingly. My previous experience in working for Ogden City and serving the public allowed me to gain a wealth of knowledge that I would bring to the council table, which is unmatched by anyone currently serving on the council. I personally bring honesty, integrity, accountability and responsibility that can sometimes be found lacking in an elected official.

 

Taylor Knuth

Age: 24
Education: Graduated from Weber State University with a bachelor's degree in theatre and is in his final year of study for a master's degree in arts administration from Southern Utah University.
Occupation: Works as a nonprofit professional for Community Services at United Way of Northern Utah, where he directs community drives and projects throughout Ogden City to help build healthy, well-educated and stable communities where individuals, families and neighborhoods thrive.
Website/Social Media: www.taylorknuth.com or Taylor for Ogden on Facebook

Political newcomer Taylor Knuth has challenged incumbent Doug Stephens for the Municipal Ward 3 City Council seat. Former Ogden lawmaker Neil Hansen also filed for this slot and voters will narrow that three-way race to two in an Aug. 15 primary.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I serve in several leadership roles throughout our community, and I believe that the arts and culture are critical to the success of business, the economy and community as a whole. I serve on the Egyptian Theatre Foundation, as President of NEXT Ensemble and on the advisory board for Ogden Musical Theatre. I am also a fierce advocate for our homeless community. I serve on the Weber County Local Homeless Coordination Council, the Emergency Food and Shelter Board, and also as a trustee for the Weber County Homeless Trust Fund. I believe that with representation comes visibility and with visibility comes change. I am currently serving on the Ogden Diversity Commission as a diversity commissioner. Every day I work tirelessly to ensure the community is better than the day before.

What is your prime motivation for running?  As a young emerging leader in Ogden, I have seen first hand the power of unity and togetherness. I believe that great things happen when people come together to create, whether that be the current development and exploration of a creative district in downtown Ogden, bringing artists and community members together to envision a thriving Arts Corridor, or the newly formed Diversity Commission which strives to represent and include all of our diverse communities within Ogden. The power of community should never be underestimated. I want to continue to serve my community and represent the underserved and underrepresented individuals in our community that have for too long been ignored.


 At-Large Seat A


Marcia White (incumbent)

Age: 54 
Education: Has a master's degree in public administration and a bachelor's of science in industrial and management system engineering.
Occupation: Works as a nationwide health care consultant with large health care organizations regarding efficiencies, strategic planning, finances and revenue management. 
Website/Social Media: www.marciawhite.com or MarciaForOgden on Facebook, @marciaforogden on Twitter, marciaforogden on Instagram

Marcia White currently chairs the Ogden City Council and is seeking re-election in the At-Large Seat A race. She faces four challengers, and voters will narrow that contest to two in an Aug. 15 primary.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I have a strong business and financial background and am a solutions-oriented person and strategic planner. Because of my engineering background coupled with my master’s in public administration education, I bring a perspective that is process oriented with an understanding of how government works. And as the only woman currently on the City Council, I bring a unique problem solving perspective.

What is your prime motivation for running? Four years ago I ran on solution-based decisions. From day one, I set forth to carry through my goals of being a vibrant city, having better transportation, supporting public safety, establishing responsible growth and creating excellence in government. I focused on these goals, prioritizing policy and funding. I hope to continue that work to make Ogden an even better place to call home.

As an incumbent, why do you deserve and want another term? Over the last four years I have been leading by example to make Ogden a better place. Three out of the last four years I have been voted by my peers into Council Leadership, and I do not take this duty lightly. I understand the challenges that face our form of government and understand the separation of powers between the council and mayor. The council has the ability of oversight, finances and setting policy, and it is important to keep the momentum going that has been felt over the last four years. It is critical that my voice is heard as a person who has been in leadership and who, as a woman, has a unique voice on the Ogden City Council.

 

Jill McCullough

Political newcomer Jill McCullough has challenged incumbent Marcia White in Ogden's At-Large Seat A City Council race. Voters will trim a field of five candidates to two in the Aug. 15 primary.

Age: 29
Education: Has a master's in business administration with an emphasis in strategic management, along with bachelor's degrees in early childhood education and elementary education. In addition, she is a certified festivals and events executive through the International Festivals & Events Association and is pursuing her doctorate in business administration.
Occupation: She is an entrepreneur and mother of 10-month-old twins.
Website/Social Media: jill.m.barker.1 on Facebook@i_heart_ogden on Twitter and jill-mccullough-mba-cfee-85b441b5/ on LinkedIn.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I had the great pleasure of getting to know the community better as I worked for the Marshall White Center and am an active Junior League of Ogden member and Oasis Community Garden volunteer. I am a lifelong resident who attended Ogden schools and Weber State University. I also worked as an elementary school teacher in the Ogden School District.

What is your prime motivation for running? To be a listening ear, an advocate for good and a supporter of all that makes Ogden a better place to live, work and play.

 

John H. Thompson

John Thompson is one of four candidates challenging incumbent Marcia White for Ogden's At-Large Seat A City Council slot. Voters will narrow that field of five to two in an Aug. 15 primary.

Age: 68
Education: Has two master’s degrees in management and human relations.
Occupation: He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 26 years, worked for Utah’s Office of Recovery Services for 15 years and is now retired. 
Website/Social Media: John Thompson on Facebook.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? Being 68.

What is your prime motivation for running? I want to serve. There are no big contentious issues going on in the city. I believe it’s well run. But there are honest differences of opinion on where we go and how we get there, and I’d like to contribute for four years and be part of it. I do think we should put an emphasis on single-family home ownership in Ogden. If you have kids here, you have a vested interest in the city.

 

Lew Wheelwright

Lew Wheelwright is one of four candidates challenging incumbent Marcia White for Ogden's At-Large A Council seat.

Age: 70
Education: Earned his doctor of chiropractic degree from Cleveland College in Los Angeles.
Occupation: Owns and operates several health-based businesses in Ogden, including Wheelwright Chiropractic, LifeCenters and Pro Pac. 
Website/Social Media: Lew Wheelwright for Ogden City Council on Facebook, @LewforOgden on Twitter and LewforOgden.com

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? As a three-time local business builder, land developer and private pilot, I hope to bring my years of business experience and straightforward mindset to Ogden’s City Council. Our city has room for improvement when it comes to business regulations. I have had to face these hurdles head on, and as such, I know how to eliminate and improve them.

What is your prime motivation for running? I am frustrated with the lack of leadership and communication coming from the current City Council. As a business owner and lifelong citizen of Ogden, I know the areas in which we need improvement. This includes economic development, improving the quality of city administration, realizing the potential of our airport and stimulating our local businesses by creating a more business-friendly environment.


At-Large Seat B


 

Bart Blair (Incumbent)

Age: 44
Education: Has bachelor's degree in sales and service technology from Weber State University.
Occupation: He owns Blair’s Service Center, an auto repair business combined with a gas station/convenience store at 2991 Monroe Blvd. in Ogden.
Website/Social Media: Bart Blair for City Council on Facebook, but Blair considers himself more of a face-to-face guy. “People come to see me as they grab a soda, get gas or a cup of coffee. They come in and talk to me about their concerns.” 

Incumbent Bart Blair seeks a third term in the At-Large Seat B Ogden City Council race. He faces off against five challengers, and voters will narrow that field to two in an Aug. 15 primary.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I was born and raised in Ogden, chose to raise my family here, and my extended family and in-laws are all from here. We’re deeply rooted, and I’ve seen Ogden go through different transitions. I think I understand Ogden. People who are from here are proud of it. Ogden has so much to offer.

What is your prime motivation for running? Through the efforts of many people, we have gained a lot of momentum and our city is really moving in a great direction and at a rapid pace. Eight years ago we were begging people to come to Ogden, and now people are calling and asking what’s available and where they can locate here. Now we’re riding that momentum and seeing where we can take it. 

As an incumbent, why do you deserve and want another term? It’s an honor for me to serve on the City Council, and I respect the position very much and take the job very seriously. If I am given the opportunity to serve another term, it would be to continue that momentum and work. I feel I have a great knowledge about where we’ve come from and where we want to go, and I still feel I’m the right choice for that position.

 

Political newcomer Xiomara Chinchilla is one of five candidates challenging incumbent Bart Blair for Ogden's At-Large Seat B City Council seat. Voters will narrow the field of six to two in an Aug. 15 primary.


Xiomara C. Chincilla

Age: 51
Education: Has a bachelor's degree in communication and is completing prerequisites for a graduate program in medical social work.
Website/Social Media: xiomarachinchilla4ogdencitycouncil on Facebook

 

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? Three years ago, I gave a dance with death. They found and repaired an aneurysm in the base of my heart. I am grateful to be alive and be able to make a difference in my community.

What is your prime motivation for running? I love Ogden and its citizens. My mission is to serve others with love and listen to what they have to say. Making a stronger, beautiful and safe community is my goal.


Alexander Johnson

Alexander Johnson is one of five challengers hoping to unseat incumbent Bart Blair in the At-Large Seat B Ogden City Council race. Voters will narrow this field of six to two in an Aug. 15 primary.

Age: 37
Education: Has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice/police science from Utah Valley University in Orem and is pursuing a master’s degree in human resources.
Occupation: He works as a public/career relations specialist for the Davis Technical College in Kaysville, where he oversees placement for 32 programs and assists with employer outreach.
Website/Social Media: Alexander Johnson for Ogden City Council on Facebook & www.alex4ogdencity.com

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? Due to the recession, my wife and I lost our jobs on Valentine’s Day in 2010. After I finished my bachelor’s degree, I was unable to find employment with a city or county police department. The Department of Workforce Services offered me employment in Ogden, where I worked for four and a half years and was very effective at managing employer and job seeker relations. I understand how to navigate such harsh economic climates from an employment and economic development perspective.

What is your prime motivation for running? My passion is to represent those that struggle and need a voice in the community. I often see leaders of industry and government bypass the collaborative process that involves community input. I believe that each individual has something they can contribute, regardless of title or stature. I strongly feel that we need more representation for working families and that the scales should be tipped in their favor. We cannot allow economic development to supersede the quality of life within our communities.


Mary Khalaf

Mary Khalaf is one of five challengers who hope to unseat incumbent Bart Blair in the At-Large Seat B Ogden City Council race. Voters will narrow that field of six to two in an Aug. 15 primary.

Age: 43
Education: Attended the College of Eastern Utah for a year.
Occupation: She runs the Khalaf House, where she serves as a cultural awareness counselor and helps people with immigration status and mental health needs. She also teaches multicultural awareness classes to first responders. 
Website/Social Media: Mary Khalaf on Facebook

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I was a former federal officer with the Department of Homeland Security until I became disabled. I’ve served the people of this community for 12 years. I get the common man and know how to help people. People should be heard, or they can suffer and get sick. My passion is helping foreigners integrate into society. 

What is your prime motivation for running? I got into politics because I felt big business and politicians were not listening to the common man, and I wanted to raise their voice.


Nelson Riches

Nelson Riches is one of five challengers who hope to unseat incumbent Bart Blair in the At-Large Seat B Ogden City Council race. Voters will narrow that field of six to two in an Aug. 15 primary.

Age: 24
Education: He's currently a college student majoring in economics. 
Occupation: Founder and CEO of Uinta Survival LLC.
Website/Social Media:  Nelson Riches for Ogden City Council on Facebook and @nelsonriches4ogden on Twitter.

What life experience makes you a good prospect for City Council? I campaigned for many different candidates for over a decade, ranging from previous city council candidate to presidential candidates like John Kasich. I spent four years during high school working with lobbying groups at the state legislature level, and as a local business owner I work directly to help improve this community.

What is your prime motivation for running? Ogden is my home, and I am not satisfied, nor do I think anyone else should be, with it simply being a good city. I see the potential for it to become not just a great city, but the recreational hub for all northern Utah. I am running for city council so that I may better bring this about. However, if elected you have my word that I will serve for only one term.