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Providence Elections: Meet the six City Council candidates

November 2nd, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Amanda Wray

PROVIDENCE – Six candidates are vying for three City Council seats in Providence. Ballots for Tuesday’s vote-by-mail elections were mailed out Oct. 6 and must be postmarked by today.


KirkAllenMugKirk Allen, 73, believes the future of Providence will be heavily influenced by the City Council’s management decisions as the city grows. He says he wants to be part of that team, make a difference and serve the community.

Increasing city revenue by promoting commercial growth, resolving home business conflicts, creating a city growth plan, increasing communication, and providing adequate walking, biking and baby strollers pathways are the issues Allen hopes to address if elected, he said.

“My goal is to be proactive and begin with the end in mind so that during my time as a Council member we will have positive outcomes,” he wrote.

Allen also believes the city needs a well-developed plan to regulate growth and accommodate higher traffic flow. He used the new high school as an example.

“No candidate has brought up the issue of what effect the new high school have on the traffic flow in Providence,” he said. “If all we do is pave the streets to make them smooth and wide, it will be a patchwork of problem-solving with no long-term fixing of travel in and out of Providence.”

Allen is in his second term on the Providence Planning Commission and has served on the City Council before. He says he has served as a Justice of the Peace, managed million-dollar budgets, and dedicated his professional career to working with at-risk school populations and their parents as a public educator for 44 years.

“I am qualified, I want to serve, I want to make a difference and I have integrity,” Allen wrote.

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RowanCecilMugCalifornia native Rowan Cecil, 83, thinks the City Council needs somebody older than Mayor Don Calderwood, who also asked him to run. Cecil is tired of the “good old boy system” in Providence, and wants to improve everything in the city, he said.

“We have people on the City Council that have family and friends that come in and they have allowed them to do things that are not according to our ordinances,” he said.

Cecil served as the chairman of the Planning Commission and has attended every City Council meeting since completing his three-year term, he said.

“I have the time and am eager to use this experience to serve the citizens of Providence,” Cecil said.

Cecil believes the city needs to begin actively increasing its tax base by developing the west side of Highway 165 for commercial industry. If elected, Cecil said he hopes to contact executives at Costco or Target or send city representatives to show them what Providence has to offer for their business.

“My understanding is that Macey’s adds a million dollars to our taxes every year in sales tax,” he said. “Well imagine if we got a Costco over there – it’d be another million bucks for sure.”

This additional income would allow the Council to address road maintenance and infrastructure, as well as the sewage treatment problem, Cecil said.

Cecil served in the U.S. Army and worked as an engineer, water expert, banking loan officer, oil rig worker and college math teacher, Cecil said.

“I worked for the county of Los Angeles appraising the refineries in the county, and my appraisals brought in $15 million a year in taxes,” Cecil said. “I’m familiar with government work and I’ve worked in industry.”


SandraCheckettsMugSandra Checketts, 50, has called Providence home for 20 years and says she considers it a privilege because of the great community. Her goal as a Council member is to listen to the voice of the people, she wrote in an email.

“This is not a Sandra Checketts position; this is a voice of the citizens through Sandra Checketts,” she wrote.

Checketts has volunteered in the community by helping up Providence Canyon, serving meals with Loaves and Fishes, presenting at a CAPSA training night, and serving as a Youth Council Adviser. She also helped bring back the Providence Pageant, she wrote.

She graduated from USU in Business Education and Business Administration while on a track scholarship, and has been part of a small, family business for more than 25 years. Checketts was also a Founding Board Member of the Thomas Edison Charter School over finance and received funding for the library from two grants she wrote. Currently, she coaches distance track at Mountain Crest High School, she wrote.

“When I notice something that could be improved upon, I enjoy finding a positive solution to meet that need,” Checketts wrote. She says delegating is part of that solution. She hopes committees can be formed to report back to the Council and move forward on projects.

Checketts believes improving communication between citizens and the city is a priority, because citizens will be more patient when things take time if they understand what the leaders are doing, she said.

“I am positive, happy, dependable, approachable and a good listener and can bring new blood to the City Council,” she wrote.


DennisGilesMugGiles, 63, has lived in Providence for 33 years and worked as a building inspector for the city. He always thought he should run for Council to serve the city, the same way he thinks all 19-year-olds should serve their country in the military, he said.

“I feel it’s time to step up, get in the mix and see what I can help out with,” Giles said.

Giles has worked as a general contractor for 38 years, a truss plant supervisor for 15 years, a building inspector for eight years and the Mountain Crest High School girls’ soccer coach for the past nine years. He is also a U.S. Army veteran with the Utah National Guard, he said.

“I know what it takes to run businesses and I don’t think cities are exempt from that,” he said. “I’ve done developments and been in the building industry.”

Giles believes the city’s challenges are internal from his experience working there.

“Some of the challenges are going to be getting people to work together,” Giles said. “It’s just time to come up with some common ground and get things taken care of, and I hope to be able to help out with that.”

He also identified roads as an ongoing problem and thinks storm water drainage has to be addressed before the city invests in sidewalks, curbs or gutters, he said.

“I’m interested in working with people and solving problems, and I hope I can represent some people in this town,” Giles said.


RoySneddonMugRoy Sneddon, 79, says he was asked to run for Council by several citizens and believes the current Council is the biggest challenge Providence is facing, he wrote in an email.

“The purchase of a new city office building, together with unresolved issues surrounding home business licenses, have badly split the present Council,” he wrote. “My previous experience required that I build consensus for decisions affecting groups of people. I believe I am well qualified to do that both by experience and personality.”

Sneddon has a history of leadership and service through family, church, military, university, international and local, he wrote.

He graduated from Utah State University with a B.S. in engineering and received his PhD in engineering mechanics from the University of Wisconsin following an active duty tour in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sneddon then taught civil engineering at the University of Nebraska as an associate professor, he said.

Since moving to Providence 14 years ago, Sneddon has served as Chairman of the Providence Planning Commission. During his term, the Commission submitted city code revisions for cell tower location and construction, light manufacturing and home business neighborhood impacts and their mitigation for approval to the city council under his direction, he wrote.

He and his wife, Kathleen Sneddon, taught technical writing and oral English to PhD candidates at South China Institute of Technology as part of the BYU China Teachers for two years. In March, they returned from an 18-month church service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said.

“I feel that I can represent all the citizens of Providence and will have the time to focus on the issues at hand,” he wrote.


JeffreyTurleyMugTwenty-five-year Providence resident Jeffrey Turley, 55, wants to give back to the city and represent his neighbors as a Council member, he wrote. He describes himself as an average guy with no agenda, just a desire to serve.

Turley says he sees roads, historical preservation and zoning as the biggest challenges facing the city. He believes prioritizing needs based on the budget is the key, but he can’t identify the best approach without being in office, he wrote.

“It is difficult to answer precisely what I would do without knowing the details of the budget, the needs and how to tackle them,” he wrote.

Enforcing city ordinances and enhancing communication between the city and its citizens are also issues Turley believes need to be addressed. But Turley has just one goal if elected as a Council member, he wrote.

“My only goal is to take each issue and study both sides,” Turley wrote. “After educating myself on the pros and cons, I will vote how I think would be best for the city.”

Turley has worked in Utah State University’s Planning Department for 20 years and has consulted for the city nearly as long. This has allowed Turley to observe the way the city functions close up and qualifies him to serve on the Council, he wrote.

“I am a good neighbor and want nothing more than to represent the voters as a Council member to serve them,” Turley wrote. “I am just like them.”

He believes Providence is a great city because its citizens get involved.

“The fact we had a primary and now have six candidates running for three seats is amazing,” he wrote. “Many other cities in the county have canceled their elections due to a lack of candidates.”


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