The final installment of the Meet the Candidates events for this election year took place on Thursday evening at the USU Eastern Jennifer Leavitt Student Center. This time, the focus was on the race for the Carbon County Commissioner/Surveyor position. The three in the hot seat were incumbent Tony Martines, Alan “Paul” Riddle and Fuzzy Nance.
The evening began as the candidates were given an opportunity to introduce themselves. Martines began by stating that he was born and raised in Carbon County. He said he is very familiar with the area as his dad was a former Price mayor and his mother was a school teacher for 23 years.
Martines also shared that he was fortunate enough to marry the prettiest girl in Carbon County. Together, the two have a son that continued his family’s legacy of attending the local college. Martines’ background is in the energy industry.
Nance explained that he has has managed and ran businesses in Carbon County for many years. He has also spent a great amount of time building mountain bike trails in the area. He stated that he has also been very involved in land access issues.
According to Nance, he is a free market, small government, people-first kind of guy. His priority as a candidate will be to reduce the government’s footprint. He wants to reduce how much of the local government needs to be funded by the people.
Riddle relocated to Utah about 22 years ago, beginning in Orangeville, though he has resided in Carbon County for the last 6.5 years. When he first came to Utah, he started a job at Westridge. He said that he has a bit of coal mining experience but would not say that he is a coal miner.
Riddle owns a construction business and is known as the asphalt guy or striper. He shared that it has become his passion to find ways to help people.
With the introductions complete, the questions began. These questions were submitted by community members via email, and they began with the question “What do you think makes a good county commissioner?”
Nance answered first, stating that from his perspective, there needs to be an aggressive willingness to step up for the people. Riddle said that it is not a matter of thinking but knowing, and that it is a question that everybody should know. A commissioner has to have compassion, understanding and be able to listen and hear, according to Riddle, who said there is a big difference between listening and hearing. In Martines’ opinion, a good commissioner has to be a leader and listen, but he said they can’t make everyone happy. There is a need to make tough decisions, be humble and get involved.
Questions continued, covering topics such as the property taxes, the tax rate increase of 2019, budgets and departments, and more. Martines was quick to clarify the accusations that have been made about the commissioners and taxes, stating that it is Utah state law that is being followed.
Martines also informed all that when various candidates tell voters that they can change this law that is being followed, it is false. Martines stated that the commissioners have been focusing on getting more residents in the area and there are 11 different subdivisions in the works. With more residents, the tax burden will lessen for current residents.
In terms of economic growth, Nance stated that he wants to focus on decreasing the tax load and clearing out regulatory roadblocks for businesses to come in. To Nance, that is what a healthy economy looks like. He would not necessarily focus on trying to bring big businesses in, but he said it is nice to hear that it is being allowed. Nance’s focus will be geared toward the freedom of economy to bring in more businesses.
Riddle said that, in the past, Martines stated that it was not the commissioners’ job to hunt down new businesses, an alleged sentiment that Riddle disagreed with. Riddle said when you know what you have to offer, you have a lot bigger of a metaphorical tool bag to encourage companies to consider the area, and that is what his job will be.
In clarification, Martines explained that he did not mean it was just a commissioner’s job. The county has an economic development director whose duty is to seek out new economic opportunities in conjunction with the commissioners. “It’s a team effort; we’ve built this team,” said Martines.
He also stated that there is a need to be realistic and what the county does have is great infrastructure. Because of the fiber that is in the community from Emery Telcom, there are many that work from home. They are working to capitalize on the infrastructure and the companies that are here.
The event continued with the candidates tackling a number of questions, including the final question of the evening, which was “Why should the citizens elect you?”
The responses began with Nance, who has been saying for months that he wants to decrease the burden that government is on the people. Additionally, he wants to decrease the burden that created the necessity to raise property taxes. Nance will work toward getting government out of everyone’s lives as much as possible.
Riddle answered by saying that it takes a person with a strong back to be able to stand up and say when something is or isn’t right. He also believes that transparency is very important as well as being able to stand up and stand behind what the commissioners’ thoughts are while still being open to hear from the community. Communicating with residents was also important to Riddle.
According to Martines, he never wanted to be a politician, but he was prompted to run when he realized the issues the community was facing. Martines said he has an idea for the community and though coal is going away, there is infrastructure here and there is a need to build on that. He said that there are a lot of good companies and businesses here, such as Bodec, Tram Electric and many more.
The entirety of this Meet the Candidates night can be found here.