I have a motto that I try never to be 100% certain about anything. Even if I feel like I am 100% confident about something, I try to pull it back to at least 99%. I believe that holding such a sense of absolute certainty makes you susceptible to blind spots, and prevents you from being able to develop a more complete understanding of an issue or topic and really listening to those who have valuable input.
This applies doubly in my run for City Council, meaning that this list of issues is by no means all I care about as a citizen of Moab and candidate, or that my ideas are the only way to address these issues- FAR from it! I’d love to talk to you about your insights and ideas and what we can do to help keep our town a great place to live. Please call or email me anytime at 435-250-3224 or email@example.com
Representation for All and Listening to Our Community
I see every day at my job and in my roles in the community that there is a huge segment of Moab that does not have the capacity to be a part of the conversation over the future direction we are all headed in. Anytime there’s a public hearing on any new proposal, or when the city is seeking public input, there are often familiar voices and faces ensuring their viewpoints are taken into consideration in the decision making process. However, we rarely, if ever, get to hear from the parts of our community that may have to work multiple jobs to help support their families and simply don’t have the time or resources to attend those public hearings or submit comments. I think it is the responsibility of elected officials to take meaningful action to proactively reach out to these members of our community, or organizations that help support them, to ensure that we are getting a more complete picture of real Moab in our decision making processes.
Safe, Secure Housing
In just the last few years alone, market forces, including the extreme demand for second homes and short-term rentals, have driven up housing costs and eaten up too much of our already-limited housing stock. The high cost and general unavailability of housing makes it difficult to hire and retain employees at small local businesses, public employers like schools, city and county offices, and at essential community services like our hospital, non-profits, and law enforcement departments. The unavailability and cost of housing hinders small business development and economic stability in our community, and I have seen firsthand in my many years at Seekhaven how housing insecurity is a direct contributor to other community emergencies like domestic assault, poor health and quality of life, and substance use and addiction.
Simply put, there is no problem that affects ALL of us the way our housing crisis does.
Our low-income families, those who are elderly and retired, and even those with solid professional and trade jobs earning middle-to-high incomes struggle to find and keep housing in our town. With the issue being so widespread, housing solutions must be a multi-pronged approach; there is no silver bullet. There is a lot of progress toward new and upcoming housing in Grand County for local residents, which is a great step forward, but we can’t just leave solving our housing crisis up to those outside city limits. It is clear that this problem simply isn’t going to go away if we don’t address it head on.
Within Moab City, we have to work harder as a community to come up with logical, workable solutions to make sure we don’t lose our real sense of ownership and community as more of us get kicked out of our rentals and are priced out of home ownership. We simply cannot build our way out of this crisis: with limited space and resources plus the insatiable demand from outside buyers, locals looking for homes are always going to be out-bid. The first step is using available tools to localize our local housing market again. Through zoning and incentive programs we can make it easy to build well-designed, community-focused housing for locals and difficult to build second homes for outsiders.
Community Quality of Life
Keeping our neighborhoods livable and a great place to raise a family, have a backyard barbeque, and just sit peacefully and watch the sun go down over the Rim are key priorities of my campaign. Moab has a long and special history, and it is a great place to live because of the people that make up our town- if we lose those people and their joy in calling Moab home, we lose everything. We have to do better to protect the interests of those who call Moab home, especially when it means standing up to outside interests who try to squeeze money out of our community with no actual care for our locals. To me, this means a balanced economy where one sector (i.e. tourism) doesn’t make our town unlivable. There is a way for our economy to thrive while still making sure we aren’t bowing to every single need and desire of one economic sector over our own well-being.
Economic Diversification and Development
Making sure our community remains a great place to live (not just to visit!) can help attract new businesses and keep dollars within our local economy. Diversifying our economy is a long-standing but largely unrealized goal, but we have many tools we haven’t tried yet. Excitingly, we’re closer than ever to one major potential benefit in this area: the new USU Moab Campus. My hope is that the new campus will provide direct benefits to the residents of Moab and Grand County, training them for new jobs, helping them gain the skills to start new businesses and industries in town, and keeping some of our best and brightest Red Devils here after high school. The City Council can help encourage USU to include programs that are specifically-targeted towards educating, training, and retaining Moab locals.
Smart Future Planning for Land, Water, and Resources
We have to ensure that we are taking water planning and protection of our other natural resources and landscape seriously. Water is our most limited resource and is the biggest factor in long-term planning and future development in Moab. The City of Moab should lead in efforts to protect the quality and quantity of water in our aquifer for the health and safety of our residents. The City, County, and Utah Division of Water Rights are working on a groundwater management plan, but this will take a few years, and in the meantime we’re already at significantly lower annual water recharge to our aquifers than previously estimated, and our groundwater well levels are almost all declining. The City shouldn’t make water commitments it can’t fulfill, including supporting unlimited growth and new strain on our aquifer. We all need water to drink and grow our food if we hope to keep calling the Moab Valley home. This summer of fires and smoke was no fluke. We can expect the west to get hotter and drier each year, and planning for this future and doing what we can to prevent it is something the City of Moab can and should lead on. Even purely looking at things from an economic standpoint: with an economy that is over 80% based on tourism, smart planning for preservation and protection of our natural resources like wildlife, land, the Colorado River, and other beautiful scenery also protects the things about Moab that draw people in from all over the world.