July 28, 2020, candidates for Page City Council held a public debate on Zoom. The moderators were Scott Swank. president of the board for the Page Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce, Michael Caywood, publisher of the Lake Powell Chronicle, and Steve Law, public relations coordinator for Page Unified School.
Debate questions were provided by the debate committee and community members. Candidates were given the questions in advance to prepare their answers. The debate covered housing, city improvement, new business development, tourism, and public health. This story focuses on their opening remarks as a general overview of their intent and their response to the COVID question, which was a five-minute segment of the hourlong debate. Readers are encouraged to watch the complete debate. The link is at the end of this report.
Council candidates participating included two sitting council members, Kristin Davis and Vice Mayor John Kocjan. New candidates were Richard Leightner, Brian Carey, and David Doyle.
Davis was the first to speak. She said, “I am horrible at public speaking. I think I'm getting the hang of being a city council member. I do love making Page better.” Davis encouraged the community to participate in city council meetings for housing issues.
Leightner spoke next, highlighting his long history of Page community involvement stretching back to when he was a cub scout. He too stressed better community communication with local government and addressing housing needs. He’d also like to see more business come to Page.
Brian Carey said he’d like to improve the quality of life for residents. Carey has been active in civic groups since he came to Page 10 years ago. He’s a regular at city council meetings, participates in various civic planning events and workshops and serves on city committees. He says he’s most proud of the time he’s spent on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and five years as chairman. He gave a list of completed projects including developing a master plan for the parks, replacing the old skate park, replacing playground equipment, installing a pedestrian walkway, and lighting up the city park. He also served six years on the Lake Powell Community Foundation. He’s a Chamber member, works with city and county alliances, and with the Circle of Page’s healthy meals initiative. He said, “I’m the chief vegetable chopper in the soup kitchen.”
John Kocjan, like Leightner, is a long time Page resident. He said his dad brought him here when he was 7 years old. The longest he’s ever been out of town was for the six-weeks attending trade school getting his contractor’s license. Kocjan has been on council for 20 years. He said, “I think it's important that we have some continuity. There's been some mistakes made you know, we're all human, but we don't want to make the same mistakes. I bring a lot of history with me, the stuff does work, doesn't work, where we should go, and where we shouldn't go.”
David Doyal said he moved to Page from Dallas about eight years ago to be with his wife (Counselor Kristin Davis) and is “very immersed in the city’s goings-on for a while.” Doyle said the city has potential and there’s so much it could be. He said, “I really want to see it grow. I just want to see this be the community it can be.”
The COVID Question
COVID-19 is still prevalent today, and for the foreseeable future. In regard to public health and safety, what is your plan for the citizens of Page and our businesses?
Candidates who responded to the question
The whole world doesn't really know where COVID is going right now. We don't know what we're going to be able to treat it with, what we're not going to be able to treat it with, if we're going to be able to successfully control it or not. But, the CDC and the WHO, as well as our state government and the city mandating masks -- it has been shown here lately in studies that that does help. It keeps the major flow down. Of course, the spacing and cleanliness are big factors too. Let's wear a mask when we're inside in a public area and where we can't space six foot. I think we need to keep doing that until we find out more about it. Outdoors, it's not so necessary unless you are in a group, a concert setting or party setting, or something like that. The one thing I do believe strongly is that each business should have the opportunity to be open. They should make the proper preparations for spacing, moving tables, moving exercise equipment, whatever needs to be done. I think that each business should decide on their own whether they want to reopen, recognize the rules, and go from there.
It's been likened to a war against this virus, so let's prosecute it like a war. We have to stay informed. We've got to have a plan. We've got to stay flexible. We've got to get through this together. We've got to communicate with each other, and above all, we've got to demonstrate leadership. Sometimes that hasn't happened. Let's do this easy stuff first, the masks, the social distancing, and exhibit some leadership on that. I have to be honest, watching our council meetings, it's been all over the place. We have, by being indecisive, instilled fear in our citizens. And is the city doing all it can do to help? Are there operations that we can assist with, facilities that can be put up, hand-washing stations, better ways to gather outdoors? Let's get involved as a city and show leadership.
I think all we can do is go with the newest information out there. CDC puts out stuff. Things are updated as changes come about. We'll have to adapt and do whatever we can to keep safe and alive. That's all we can do.
I just know that we're not always going to agree on everything, but it is great when we all could be civil toward each other. I just want to remind the people of Page that you may not want to wear a mask, but that is our city mandate, and if you are the people who are wearing a mask, I don't think it's necessary to yell at people who aren't wearing masks either. If you really have a problem with a person in particular, it's not your responsibility to deal with it. You can call city resources and have them deal with it.
Richard Leightner follow-up:
I agree with what everybody said. It's something that we have to live with. We need to make the best of
it until we find out different. Kristin is right. I’ve seen people without masks in stores. I just go the other way. I stay away from them. I don't try to be a mask policeman. I think it's good for everybody to be responsible. Consider others feelings. Consider their health.
The 2020 debates for Page City Council was organized by the Page Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce and Lake Powell Chronicle. The debate was broadcast on KXAZ93.3 FM and televised on the City of Page Channel 4. The full debate is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/tDoRrzK7pfI