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A lifetime of service led new Providence councilman to local government

December 11th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Haley Larsen

Though Roy Sneddon has lived a life of leadership and service, he never thought he would be where he is today, — the newest elected Providence City Councilman.

On Jan. 4, Sneddon will be sworn in with two others as councilmen for the next four years.

“I’ve held a number of leadership positions throughout the years in religious, scholastic and business settings,” Sneddon said. “However this will be the first time I’ve been in this kind of position.”

As a student at Utah State University in 1953, Sneddon represented the engineering college in the school’s student government. Sneddon worked with other college representatives and staff members throughout the school.

After graduating in 1958 with his degree in engineering from USU, Sneddon went into the Army.

Shortly afterward, Sneddon decided to pursue his PhD at the University of Wisconsin and moved to Nebraska where he became an engineering professor at the University of Nebraska, where he later became the head of the engineering department.

Sneddon, his wife Kathleen, and their 11 kids stayed in Nebraska until he retired in 2001. The family then moved back to Cache Valley to live in Providence.

The couple has since served two 18-month service missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and spent two years in Eastern China teaching technical writing at a university.

Because of work and volunteer obligations he has held over the years, Sneddon said he hasn’t had time to consider being involved in local politics.

It wasn’t until he had served in the Providence planning and zoning committee that he considered a position as a city councilman. “It was just one of those things that’s developed while we’ve been here,” he said. “After serving as a committee chairman, I had several people come to me and suggest that I run for city council.”

“I think they thought I was reasonable,” Sneddon said. “I’m good at being unbiased, and making decisions that are fair for all parties concerned. I thought that if I were to run for office I could be in a position to perhaps bring divergent views to a point of compromise that could work.”

Kathleen Sneddon said most of the leadership roles her husband has held have required he work with diverse groups of people.

“With different kinds of people come different kinds of ideas. And he knows how to work with that,” she said.

After some deliberation, the couple decided Sneddon would run for office. On Nov. 3 the city announced the three new councilmen: Sneddon, Kirk Allen and Dennis Giles.

“I’m excited for my new position in the community,” Sneddon said. “However, I would have been OK if I had lost. Our motto was, ‘I would have won even if I had lost’.”

Sneddon said his goal as a councilman is to refrain from bias in all circumstances.

“I will try to bring it to some sort of meeting in the middle. I want people to feel like some of the things they were concerned about were addressed,” he said. “As a council, we need to address issues to attempt to work out compromise. It’s easy to stake out a position, it’s difficult to be flexible. I guess if I’m really successful, no one will like me.”

Providence Mayor Don Calderwood said he has observed Sneddon’s approach to city government, and feels that he has much to offer for a balanced approach.

“I have sought his advice and expertise in the past and feel fortunate he is now on the council,” Calderwood said. “I expect and anticipate that the city will benefit greatly from his service.”

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