Six candidates will vie for three seats on the Moab City Council in the next election on Nov. 5. Incumbent candidates Rani Derasary, Kalen Jones and Tawny Knuteson-Boyd will be joined by challengers Kenneth G. Minor, M. Bryon Walston and Kendall Jenson.
Here at the Moab Sun News, we heard from readers who wanted a deeper look at the candidates. We’ll be presenting a profile of one candidate each week leading up to the election.
This week, we spoke to current Moab City Councilwoman Tawny Knuteson-Boyd via email.
What's your background?
My background is pretty varied. I grew up mostly in the Salt Lake area but my family moved a lot. I was the "new kid" almost every year. It made me adaptable and I learned how to fit in. I was also a military wife for 10 years. My husband calls me a "social chameleon," as I'm comfortable with almost any group of people.
What neighborhood do you live in? Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?
My husband was raised in Moab. His dad was mayor in the early ‘60s. His family left during the bust years, but he always wanted to come “home.” We moved here in February of 2004, a move neither one of us regrets.
When my boys were small, I ran a state-licensed in-home daycare for a few years before working in the insurance industry, then transitioning to work in healthcare for about 12 years. I'm currently employed at the Grand County Road Department as the administrative assistant. I’ve been at my current job for 11 years, working with great co-workers who never seem to get credit for the jobs they do (a shameless plug for the County road crew!).
My family lives in the Portal Vista neighborhood in a small house on a small lot. Our neighborhood’s lots are small, so they are easy to care for. We have a few second homeowners in our neighborhood and a couple of homes purchased by companies to house their employees.
We love to spend time up on the mountain in the summer to escape the heat. I love Moab’s downtown and we try to spread our dollars around local shops and businesses. My favorite place is my home and garden, it's my respite from the stresses of everyday life.
What's an example of a great ordinance or political move you've seen in the last few years here in Moab?
I am partial to the plastic bag ban the Moab City Council instituted this year, though probably not for the obvious reasons. I know full well that some folks will not agree with me. However, it certainly and noticeably reduced the number of plastic bags blowing around town, being caught in fences and trees, especially on the highway north of town near the landfill.
To me, it is a great example of local governments governing their communities. We got some pretty noticeable push back from some [state] legislators. However, we stood our ground and communicated with them about what we felt it would improve and how we could keep it from negatively impacting local businesses.
They may revive their opposition at a future legislative session, but it was a learning experience and helped us prepare for future negotiations that are sure to happen.
If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?
It's hard to pick just one thing. Generally speaking, I want to see us make changes that protect our established neighborhoods and businesses, while at the same time integrating new housing that fits in those established areas. I want us to create opportunities for new small businesses to open and succeed.
I'd like to see some effort put into incentivizing rehabbing older homes. I’d like to promote turning a single home into a duplex or triplex, if possible and reasonable. In some instances, this could create a way for seniors to age in their own homes while providing a living space for a caregiver without compromising either person's privacy.
I know change is hard for many people. If it is done without forethought, it can be detrimental instead of a win-win situation. Making sure we make changes with thoughtfulness, kindness, compassion is paramount but we also need to be bold and brave when we tackle issues that require thinking in new and innovative ways.
How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our town?
When I was first elected, Moab City Council and Planning Commission meetings were not live-streamed online. If residents wanted to know what was said, they had to come to City Hall and sit through the meeting to hear a discussion about one item. Involving residents in the decision-making process has come a long way in just four years.
Each person in our city has differing ways in which they'd like to be involved, so I'm not sure there is one right method of engaging the public. The notices in the newspapers seem to give residents some clarity about everyday things they are concerned about.
The mayor has implemented focus groups for specific plans or areas, which I think is a great idea. We do have a very engaged public here in Moab. It's refreshing to me that our residents perceive us as approachable, that they are comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions with us.
If you saw a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in our city, how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing?
Municipalities often don't replace infrastructure until they have to and Moab isn't an exception to this. In our case, most all infrastructure proposals are needed and worth putting in place. It's expensive to replace. It involves changing traffic patterns, digging up streets. In general, it's a disruption, even though needed. It's not fun.
So when the engineers and consultants come to the council with a proposal, it has already been looked at by professionals, well-educated and extremely knowledgeable in their field. If it is a brand new installation, there needs to be a compelling reason to build it. It has to serve the greater good and fit in our city budget.
When I analyze these proposals, I rely heavily on staff and consultants to explain why it is needed, and how it will function and how much it will cost.
If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer footing for future growth?
Three steps to a more solid future would include:
Working toward our sustainability goals and setting new ones as new technology and funding becomes available. We should be mindful of the city we leave to our children and grandchildren.
Overhauling our very old, well-used infrastructure, which includes the associated conveyance systems to the new WRF [the Moab City Water Reclamation Facility -ed.], sidewalks, streets, lighting, waste management. If we don't work hard to preserve and maintain what we have and what we need to build, the problem snowballs and in 10, 15 or 20 years will have to repair what we neglected.
We need to make sure that growth that happens looking forward is sustainable, diversified, that it provides for the common good. We have to make sure we communicate to developers and investors what we want our town to be, how we want it to feel. Those can be subjective and esoteric but it can be done and there is room for all good ideas at the table.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
I wish I could say a million dollars would fix a lot of the city's concerns. It wouldn't begin to touch our old infrastructure. We need a revamp to our city hall office space, the MARC [the Moab Arts and Recreation Center] and the ball fields require some long-needed updates and the MRAC [Moab Recreation & Aquatic Center] is a spendy facility to maintain. We need a new building for public works.
So I think I would invest part of it in the planned upgrades there. Those would be good investments in the future for our kids.
I'd also add part to our affordable housing fund to facilitate the construction of the Walnut Lane development. That project, to me, is one that can't be finished soon enough. I have high hopes that it will be a model for the development of future projects that will incorporate new technology and architecture and show that small cities can be proactive when they face a housing crisis, as we have.
If there was any left, I'd have a BBQ and invite the entire town to celebrate what a great community we are.