My wife and I moved to Highland in order to bring our horses on to our property. We love the open feel of Highland, and we appreciate the distinction that it provides from our neighboring cities. We hope to make Highland our home for many years to come. I am running for Highland City Council because I want to do my part to help maintain the unique and open feel of Highland City.
I am a registered independent (I have been a registered Republican for most of my adult life). I consider myself a conservative, both socially and fiscally. I am a proponent of business, and I hold a strong belief in individual choice and accountability. I am a life-long learner, and enjoy learning both in the formal classroom as well as from every day situations.
One of my favorite quotes is from Eric Hoffer. I have had this on the wall of my office for as long as I can remember:
“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.”
I am also a strong believer in making data-based decisions. One of my other favorite quotes is from W. Edwards Deming:
”Without data, you are just another person with an opinion”
And the corollary, “without an opinion, you are just another person with data”. Of course, anyone who knows me well also knows that I am not shy in sharing my own opinions, while encouraging others to share theirs.
Here are a few more of my core beliefs:
- I believe in a loving God who wants us all to be happy, and to have joy in this life
- I believe that the United States constitution was inspired by that God to establish our freedoms in this country
- I believe that we each have the right to choose what the pursuit of happiness means for us
- I believe in diversity of thought
- I believe that our individual differences make us stronger together
- I believe that Highland is a unique and beautiful city
- I believe that maintaining its distinctiveness is important
I have served on the board of a Utah county charter school, and served as an adviser to the board for another Utah county charter school. I sit on the advisory board for multiple organizations, and I currently sit on the board of directors for the Utah chapter of the Association of Information Management. These experiences have allowed me to work with a wide variety of individuals with various backgrounds and vastly different ideas. I enjoy the diversity of thought that comes from discussing problems and solutions with individuals with whom I may not agree immediately.
I have not served at the city level before, but as I learn more about the specific challenges that will face this city council, I look forward to spirited discussions about solutions to these issues.
About my campaign
This is a critical time for the city of Highland. In the next few years the Highland city council will need to address some very difficult issues, including both a projected budget deficit by fiscal year 2022 as well as increasing needs for city services to maintain open spaces, roads and other needed services. The discussions will be challenging, and tough decisions will need to be made. The city council members elected in 2019 will be responsible for finding solutions to these challenging issues.
Financially speaking, there are only two ways to balance a budget: increase revenue or decrease expenses. Neither are easy to accomplish, and both have positive and negative effects. I will bring an unbiased view to each issue, and I will assess each potential solution with an open mind. I will review each budget request and evaluate each revenue opportunity in the same way that I have done so in my professional career as an executive at several successful companies across many different industries. I will do my best to be fair, and to ensure that all opinions and options are discussed. As a resident of Highland, I want the city to maintain its unique culture and feel, and I also understand the fiscal responsibility that resides with the city council.
Communication / Transparency: I have set up a method of communication to keep Highland residents informed of city council meetings, decisions, votes, etc. If elected I will use this same service to request feedback from residents regarding their feelings about issues coming to the city council. To receive SMS Text messages from me, text the word "Knapton" (without quotes) to (833) 300-4888.
I have been asked some specific questions about my views and how I would approach certain issues if I am elected to serve on the city council. I wanted to post the questions and my responses here for anyone to see, and to hear your comments. Please use the section below to share your thoughts and reactions.
Q: How would you improve the maintenance of open space and trails?
As a citizen of Highland, I agree that the trails and some of the open space parks do not appear to be maintained to the level that I would expect. This is one of the reasons that I decided to run for city council: I like the open spaces, and the many trails in Highland, but I do not feel that a city should build public spaces that it cannot maintain. As I have started investigating this issue, I have learned that when the open space initiative was developed in 1998, and later amended in 2008, it was the intent of the city council at the time that residents of the open space communities pay all maintenance costs, and that the $20.00 monthly fee (adopted in 2001) was intended to be the initial charge. I am still investigating this issue to fully understand how the city had planned to maintain these parks and trails, and where the breakdown has occurred.
This issue is also confounded by the projected budget deficit mentioned above. I do not yet have an answer to this problem, but I can promise that I will work with the city council, staff and mayor to find an appropriate solution that will enhance and protect the quality of life in Highland.
Q: Would you consider letting open space resident purchase the land next to their homes for a fair price that would benefit the homeowner and the city
I have heard of this idea from several people. This is a very interesting idea, and one worth considering. As with all potential solutions, not all the effects of this solution are positive. One thing that must be considered is that this may be a short-term solution to a long-term problem. That is to say that the city would get a one-time payment, which would help the revenue side of the budget, and the city may end up receiving additional property tax for this land, but the city would also lose some of the open feel that it has now. What provisions would be made for the ongoing availability of parks and trails for citizens, and how much autonomy would be granted to the residents who purchase this land? Would there be easements required? There are many details to be discussed, but I do believe that this is one possible solution that should be actively discussed and investigated.
Q: In the last few years the appearance of the city has deteriorated. This year there are many dead trees, poorly mowed grass and areas of dry dead grass. How will you improve the appearance of the city?
The city is investing in updating some of the infrastructure, as I have personally been watching the work on 6000 west and other roads that have been in dire need of repair. I believe that the city is doing their best to work within appropriated budgets to care for most of the city owned land.
Some private land areas are not as well cared for, which may be what is being referred to in this question. I believe that there are some fairly simple solutions to this, which include both the “carrot” and the “stick”. For example, utilizing the beautification committee to help some residents to care for their property by offering awards and other recognition can go a long way. In some extreme cases, especially where dry grass and dead wood create safety issues, fines can be levied to force cleanup of some spaces. Some residents may need assistance to clean up their property, in which case the city can help to crowd-source some volunteers to assist. There are many creative ways that can be utilized to help with this problem.
Q: Would you be willing to force property owners to improve the management of neglected properties?
This is similar to the question above. I believe that there are some extreme cases, especially where public safety is concerned, where the city may need to take a stronger stance in requiring maintenance to private property. I hope that some of the more diplomatic approaches would be successful before moving down this path.
Q: The wet spring has created a serious fungal infection (anthracnose) of the beautiful sycamore tree in the city. Immediate steps need to be taken to treat and preserve these trees.
This is an issue for the current city council to address, as the term for the new city council members doesn’t start until January 2020. If this issue arises during my tenure, I will be happy to address it in the most cost-effective yet productive manner possible.
Q: How would you attract new business to the city to improve sales tax revenues.
This is a tough question, but one that needs to be addressed. With the looming budget deficit, increasing revenues will be very important to the city. However, attracting new business could also risk changing the city drastically, as has happened to some of our neighboring cities. This may not be a bad thing but must be done consciously and with great care, thought and planning.
I do not know the current plans for increasing the retail tax base in the city. I plan to look very closely at the current plans for retail space, and to understand the current plans for attracting more retail business. I bring some strategic insights from my business experience and can help in the development of plans for new business, but I need to first understand the current strategy that is in place. Initiatives such as these take time to come to fruition, and we need to take a very long-term view of this issue.
Q: How would you make Highland a leader in Northern Utah County on innovative technology (faster internet, improved cellular service, television reception, solar and wind power generation, innovative ways to manage water)?
I bring a very high-tech focus and quite a bit of experience in this area. One of the high priority budget items that has caught my attention is the need to upgrade IT services in the city. I am not clear yet on what this means, but I plan to investigate very early in my tenure if I am elected. Some of the things mentioned in the question will require negotiation and diplomacy with the entities involved – such as improving cellular service (which was a pain point for me when we moved to Highland two years ago). I have quite a bit of experience negotiating with high-tech vendors and would be happy to leverage those skills on behalf of the city if I am elected to this position.
Q: What is your position on Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)?
Based on the initial results from piloting of RCV around the country, there are many benefits to implementing the ranking of candidates on ballots, such as:
- clearer views of voter preferences
- reduction in negative campaigning
- more issue-based campaigning
Several municipalities in Utah have declared their intent to use RCV for their elections this year, and I will be very interested to learn if these benefits are realized. The concept behind RCV is intriguing, and I do believe that it provides for a clearer picture of voter’s choices among multiple candidates.
I am concerned that most, if not all, county clerks in Utah are against RCV. I would like to learn more about why they are against it, and whether their concerns are related to the legitimacy of the election itself or if they stem from the challenges involved in the implementation. At this time, I do believe that the benefits of RCV outweigh the negative aspects, but I need more information before I would be comfortable voting on this topic.
Q: What ideas do you have on improving and maintaining the Quality of Life in Highland?
This is a tough question for me to answer. I am an average citizen who decided that I wanted to find a way to serve the city that we call home. I don’t come to this with any pre-formulated ideas that I want to implement, or any agendas to follow, other than my desire to maintain the rural feel of the city with the large residential lots and open spaces.
My wife and I were attracted to Highland because of the rural feel of the community, and I want to help maintain that. This needs to be balanced against the need for increased revenue in order to stave off the projected deficit. This will require some tough decisions by the city council. I only offer my skills and experiences as a voice among the committee members to help maintain the quality of life that the residents of Highland have come to love and appreciate.
Q: What is your profession? And how will your professional experience help you succeed in this role, if elected?
I am a Chief Information Officer. I have been in high tech for my entire career here in the Utah valley. I started as a programmer, then moved into IT operations and finally to CIO about 15 years ago. In my role I need to assess project implementations, develop and review budgets, evaluate return on investment, work collaboratively with executives from all departments, influence my peers for things that I believe will benefit the company, and negotiate with vendors for the best deal possible. I believe that all of these will help me to be a great city council member.
Help with my campaign
The Highland City 2019 primary municipal elections will be held on August 13th. I would appreciate your support!
I would love to hear from you. If you are a Highland resident, please consider sharing your thoughts, ideas and concerns regarding this city with me. You can either leave a public comment on this page, or contact me privately.