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 Bryon Walston via email.
What's your personal background? How did you get to Moab, or when did your family get here? What sort of work have you done professionally?
I have lived in Moab for most of my life. My family came to town in 1962 for employment. I am a true local. I have six children (five sons and one wonderful daughter) and ten grandchildren. I have served on our local school board for four terms (that’s over 16 years). I served for four years on the Board of Trustees of the Utah High School Activities Association.
Over the years, I have helped coach many ball teams, served on the Grand County Recreation Board and participated in many other church and civic activities. I am president-elect of the local Southeastern Chapter of our Realtors Association.
In 2007, after 29 years of delivering for UPS, I retired and now own two businesses with my wife Nita: Angel Watch Storage and Moab Premier Properties. I am presently a real estate broker. My children have all excelled in business and education. I also drive Hummer tours for the Moab Adventure Center.
What neighborhood do you live in? Why? Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?
I live in the Cottonwood subdivision, in a house that I personally built, around the corner from my childhood home. Things have really changed over the years. One of my favorite places in the area is the La Sal Mountains. I have built a cabin there and enjoy it as a place of serenity and an escape from the heat.
What's an example of a great ordinance or political move you've seen in the last few years here in Moab?
I believe in government for the people, by the people. I like the new reorganization of the Grand County government because it will give voters a chance to vote for four out of the five council members, thus having a greater voice in the elections.
If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?
I would like to allow a small or accessory dwelling unit in all zones in the city and would like to make it easier to approve and build them. Our zoning rules are very cumbersome and frustrating to the common citizen. This would greatly reduce our housing shortage and allow a greater density in the city and county.
How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our town?
The people in town are very hard-working people. We need open communication. They need to feel like they are heard. Right now, there is a big rift or divide among the citizenry of Moab. There is an "us versus them" attitude among many people, business owners and city officials.
Government is supposed to be for the people, by the people. We need to represent all of the people, not just part of them. An elected government official should put their personal agendas aside and work for the good of the common citizen, for their health and safety and to provide services. There are many innovative ways to communicate with people. Implementing ways or methods of communication would be ongoing, but we need to listen and pay attention to all the people.
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?
Cost analysis basis. A lot of the infrastructure in the city is old and in need of updating. Evaluate, prioritize and implement. The cost of the new system or structure would be a big part of the evaluation process. How much does it cost and how are we going to pay for it? Also, it would be important to look for outside money to offset the replacement of the system.
If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer footing for future growth?
Eliminate ordinances that cost the town money and really don't accomplish anything. There are many.
Manage growth in a way that businesses will prosper. Businesses are the lifeblood of our community.
Traffic is one of our major issues. We need to slow traffic and reduce noise down on Main Street and in the city as a whole. I have a dream for Main Street. Right now it is just a dream or vision. I would work to approve a bypass. It will cost a lot but would be worth it in the end.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
A million dollars wouldn't go far enough. I believe a type of adult education center in conjunction with the Utah State University extension office would be a great thing for programs to teach people life skills, training for jobs and furthering their education. You can give someone a fish to feed them for a day, but if you teach them to fish, it feeds them for a lifetime.