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Richmond’s new councilman wants to make a difference

February 26th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Hillary Bowler

RICHMOND–He isn’t necessarily expecting to make a difference of gigantic proportions. “If I can just make things a little better,” said Paul Erickson, Richmond City Council’s newest member.

Erickson, 42, was sworn into office Feb. 16 to replace Keith Ward on the council. He sat down for an interview this week and spoke passionately about serving his community. He sat at his desk in Cache Valley Bank, where he has been the chief credit officer since May.

Erickson is a life-long resident of Richmond, minus just a few years. At one point, shortly after his graduation from college, a job took him to the Salt Lake valley. A new job offer in Cache Valley brought Erickson and his family back to Richmond less than two years later in 1993. “I don’t know if it was fate, providence, luck, or just knowing people,” said Erickson. He was definitely happy to be back.

Between scouting, church service, and the city’s Lion’s Club chapter, Erickson has been serving his community actively for years. City service also runs in the family. Erickson’s father served on the city council in the 1970’s and his wife served on the council from 2000 to 2008. He does what he can to instill a love of community and service in his children as well.

Erickson said that he hadn’t really been in the position to be on the city council before now, due to work and family obligations. When he saw the notice about the open council position in the newspaper, he started to consider the possibility. He thought about the idea for a few days, discussed it with his wife throughout the week, and visited with Mayor Mike Hall about what the expectations were for the position. He ultimately submitted his application and was chosen as the new council member.

“The cool thing about it is I knew who the candidates were ahead of time,” Erickson said. He said that he didn’t think it would have mattered if someone else was chosen for the position because any of them could have done well. He knew all but one personally and believes each of them to be good people.

Erickson talked about his main responsibilities in his new position, which include the maintenance of streets, buildings, and sidewalks. “I hit some pot holes the other day,” Erickson said. “I don’t like it any better than anyone else does.”

He hopes to continue what he called “Keith’s legacy,” mentioning that he felt that the former councilman had made great progress with the roads. Erickson knows that because of budget constraints and such that he can’t fix all problems or make miracles happen with the roads. “At the end of the day, it’s good to do what you can,” said Erickson.

Erickson is good friends with many city leaders. He has been friends with the mayor for more than 30 years and worked with him at Zion’s Bank for about 10 years. He admires the council members and city employees for their hard work, willingness to serve, and great amount of experience. “We’ve got some good gray hair in the community,” he said.

“I know I can make a difference because I can work,” Erickson said of the impact he feels he can have on a small community.

He said that it isn’t likely that he would run for any office in a bigger city. He feels that impact can be much greater at a smaller local level. Plus, he doesn’t want too much recognition. He was already apprehensive about how many stories about him and pictures of him have appeared in local newspapers. “I don’t want my name in the paper all the time.”

Erickson is ready to jump in and make a difference in Richmond city. He had already gotten a bid on fencing in order to make a proposal for Recreation, Arts, Parks, and Zoo tax money before the interview. He had been assigned to do that just the week before, the same night he joined the council. He’s excited to do much more for the city. “There’s a great sense of satisfaction to doing something meaningful and lasting,” Erickson said.


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