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Politics & Government

Lehi City Election 2021: Candidates profiled – Part II



Ballots will be arriving in Lehi voters’ mailboxes next week. Voters will decide two City Council seats, the Mayor, and a City PARC tax question. 

The field of nine council candidates will be chosen by ranked choice, a first in Lehi history. The Lehi City Council approved ranked choice voting in April, eliminating a primary election. 

The following is the second in a series of two articles sharing information about city council candidates and both mayoral candidates. This article features five candidates. 

Cami Purtschert, City Council candidate 

Lehi Free Press: Why are you running?

I am running for Lehi City Council because I love this city and I love serving and being involved in the community. City government is where we can affect real change! I am concerned with the unprecedented growth we are seeing in Lehi, and though not against growth and development, there needs to be more responsibility when it comes to approving new zoning changes and development. We have seen how our current City Council votes, and it is time for some new, fresh voices and perspectives.

LFP: Do you support Ranked Choice Voting and no Primary?

Because RCV was voted in by our current City Council, I am obligated to support it during this current election. However, if elected I will do everything I can to change it back to a Primary system.

LFP: Do you support the PARC tax?

Let me be clear, I am all about less government in our lives and I believe we are taxed beyond what is necessary and prudent and would like to see taxes reduced, taxes disguised as “fees” eliminated, and more money put back into our citizen’s pockets. That said, this is one of those rare times when I will support a new tax.

I have been working at the Lehi Legacy Center for the past 14 years. During that time, I have come to appreciate the many hours spent by caring Lehi City employees doing their best to try and  figure out a way to fit everyone into our sports programs. Lehi is in desperate need of new parks to accommodate a rapidly growing population. Not only would it be a huge boon to our sports programs, but itwould also boost our amazing Lehi City Arts Center! Don’t forget, this tax is also for culture and arts. Lehi is an amazing city with so much to offer. Just think how wonderful it would be to have a larger, more modern venue for our Lehi citizens to enjoy culture and art!  I vote YES on PARC!

LFP: What are some ideas you have to handle the growth Lehi is facing?

The first thing that comes to mind is: Just because it is a seemingly empty field does not mean we must build on it.A lot of the growth in Lehi isn’t due to new move-ins, but people who were born and raised here and are staying as they get married and start families of their own. There must be a balance to the growth. Not every plan presented to the City Council should be approved and yet it seems like they always are. Listening to the people in our community and having open and honest communication is key to development in Lehi.

LFP: If elected, what is the top priority you would like to work on during the first year?

Thanksgiving Point is a mess. The traffic problems need to be addressed. Some groups have proposed that Golf Course Drive be extended and that high rise apartments be built there. That area simply cannot support that kind of increase in traffic and infrastructure strain. 

I would also work to reverse the vote on RCV. That was a mistake and needs to be changed.

Chris Condie, City Council (Incumbent) 

Lehi Free Press: Why are you running?

I am seeking a third term because I care about your family and mine. Whether it’s the family we grew up in or the family we have created, we all desire the best. Families are at the forefront of my mind as each decision comes before me as a City Councilmember. I know that I have the skills and personality to continue to serve our Lehi family effectively and do so capably, honorably, and with integrity.

LFP: Do you support Ranked Choice Voting and no Primary?

I do support Ranked Choice Voting for this cycle. I am anxious to see how it works out this year and hear from the residents regarding their experience before committing to it next time. I support holding a Primary in the future.

LFP: Do you support the PARC tax?

Yes, I do support the PARC tax. Lehi has the opportunity to build two regional parks, a center for the performing arts, and the continuation of building out trails that provide connectivity throughout the city. I truly believe it will benefit all of our families as we build venues where memories can be made.

LFP: What are some ideas you have to handle the growth Lehi is facing?

As a City Council, we need to review and update the General Land Use Plan every five years and encourage more civic involvement in this process. I commit to continuously reviewing this plan, which guides and promotes responsible development.

LFP: If elected, what is the top priority you would like to work on during the first year? 

During my first year I want to work on getting the first residents connected to the Lehi Fiber Network. Lehi is the tech epicenter of Utah and it’s time for our city to have the internet services to match. Since 2014, I have been working to help private industries come into Lehi to offer competitive ISP services. It has proven difficult and expensive for the private industry to bring new services to Lehi. I investigated alternative approaches and concludedthat Lehi should build its own fiber-optic network, and partner with the private sector to provide Internet services to all of Lehi. I voted to support the revenue bond for $65 million so Lehi City can deliver first-class Internet service to Lehi. This investment will help families and businesses now and well into the future without having to raise property or sales taxes. 

Ethan Erickson, City Council candidate 

Lehi Free Press: Why are you running?

I am running because I have noticed that as cities tend to grow and expand, such as Lehi, the government of the city tries to grow and expand with it. The city government, when it expands, will often try to put in greater regulation and restrictions in an effort to mold outcomes to their own desired ends rather than permitting the residents to pursue their own goals and outcomes. I think that the expansionary tendency of governments ought to be avoided and that disputes should be resolved privately as much as possible. 

LFP: Do you support Ranked Choice Voting and no Primary?

I think that alternative forms of voting are useful things to explore but I have my reservations when it comes to implementing ranked choice voting particularly when there is no primary. One of the advantages of ranked choice voting is that it is supposed to get rid of the spoiler effect where candidate A gets 46% of the vote and candidate B gets 44% of the vote and candidate C gets 10% of the vote and those who voted for C prefer B over A. In this situation A wins despite B having more support. Ranked choice voting gets rid of the spoiler effect but does introduce the reverse spoiler effect and could lead to a less transparent process. I would prefer that voting alternatives besides RCV be explored, such as score voting and approval voting. 

LFP: Do you support the PARC tax?

No. I am not in favor of the PARC tax. I’m the type of person that does not like taxes in general and would not be in favor of raising them on the residents of Lehi. Parks and artistic endorsers are things that the market will take care of if there is enough demand for them. The amount of use someone will find in a park is something that will vary from resident to resident, but the PARC tax would apply to all residents regardless of how often they use the park, if they want the park, or if they voted for or against the tax.

LFP: What are some ideas you have to handle the growth Lehi is facing?

Growth is a challenging issue in Lehi. The city is growing at a rather rapid rate. I think that attempts to regulate and manage the growth through the use of the city government will ultimately prove less fruitful than allowing the free market to self-regulate. When the government gets involved in an area it drives out competition and leads to a problem where before countless minds would have been independently working on a solution and instead a much smaller group tries to solve the same issues with less intimate knowledge of the problem. 

LFP: If elected, what is the top priority you would like to work on during the first year?

My primary priority in my first year in office would be ensuring that the constitutional and natural rights of residents are upheld to the utmost degree, including the second amendment. In signing the Declaration of Independence, the founders acknowledged that the role of government is not parks, roads, regulations or restrictions, but is instead the protection of our natural and unalienable rights. 

Aaron Bullen, City Council candidate 

Lehi Free Press: Why are you running?

I love our city and moved here because I saw it as a great place to raise a family. To maintain the things that make Lehi a great place to live, I believe we must make smart and deliberate decisions that result in a balanced outcome for the whole community. I have a refined approach to problem solving and innovation that I believe will make this balanced future a reality for our city. I serve as a director of a local charity that supports mothers in crisis pregnancies and many know me for my state level policy advocacy. I hope to offer my tireless work ethic and informed reasoning ability to lead Lehi into a bright future.

LFP: Do you support RCV and no Primary?

I openly opposed the elimination of the Primary at the time the council voted to remove it. Having a primary election allows candidates more time to communicate their message to the public. A primary also makes for a less confusing general election by lowering the number of candidates on the ballot. In this election, there would have been only four candidates instead of nine.

As I have spoken to the citizens of Lehi, I have found that most of them do not know that they will be voting via RCV this election and will be surprised when they receive their ballots. I also think that RCV is better utilized for single seat elections. Multiple seat elections, like ours for city council, have calculation concerns that should be reconsidered next year.

LFP: Do you support the PARC tax?

If the tax passes, I will insist that the money is spent on parks, not other projects outside the proper role of municipal government

If the tax does not pass, I will respect the will of the people by not voting to place the tax on the ballot again

LFP: What are some ideas you have to handle the growth Lehi is facing?

With our growth, we must prevent infrastructure failure. Believe it or not, every development in Lehi had a passing traffic study. In the new general plan, there are 550 new residences planned to be added on main street downtown.There are another 550 additional residences planned to be added to main street to the west of 500 W. Can Main Street handle this? We must revisit these plans. We must have the tools in the development code to make sure any amount of new density does not negatively impact the surrounding community through traffic failures, safety reduction, lack of parking, or loss of our historical heritage. 

LFP: If elected, what is the top priority you would like to work on during the first year?

We need a full contingency plan for our culinary water usage as our water table continues to decline at two feet per year.

I would like to remove the city’s prohibition of mother-in-law type apartments (ADUs) in 23% of the city and reduce or remove the $4,253 impact fee charged to those renting out a basement. In combination with reasonable parking and lot size regulations on ADUs, this will help create more affordable housing.

Nicole Kunze, City Council candidate

Lehi Free Press: Why are you running?

My husband and I moved to Lehi the day after we got married in 1996. We were treated like family and mentored by wonderful people who still serve the community. I’ve reported on the last 83 Lehi City Planning Commission meetings and have written hundreds of stories about remarkable residents, community businesses and events for the Lehi Free Press. 

I’m on the School Community Council for Lehi Elementary School, the Miss Lehi’s Outstanding Teen Committee and the Lehi City Parks, Trails and Trees Committee. I’m running for City Council because I am uniquely prepared for the job, and I love serving Lehi.

LFP: Do you support Ranked Choice Voting and no Primary?

In 2019 only 5,974 of Lehi’s 29,436 registered voters voted in the primary election in August compared to 9,052 in the general election with mail-in ballots in October and election day in November. I’m supportive of trying RCV this year to see if it means a better voter turnout and because I want to choose from all the candidates, not just the ones who made it to the general election. Also, I hope the City uses the $85,000 they saved not having a primary election toward the all-abilities playground at Family Park, or the dog park at Willow Park.

LFP: Do you support the PARC tax?

Yes, I support the PARC tax. Lehi has the land and the concepts for several great parks, and I don’t want to wait to get them built out. We’re helping to fund the parks in American Fork, Spanish Fork, Salt Lake County and more when we spend money in those cities. One cent for every $10 on sales in Lehi is a reasonable ask to get our parks built.

I’d like to see the arts get the funding they need as well. The three rooms and the 85-seat theater at the Lehi Arts Center is woefully inadequate for the top-notch community theater productions, nine children’s theater workshops and performances the Lehi Symphonic Band, the Lehi Chorale, recitals and art classes that are held there. The dedicated and talented people on the Arts Council are providing a great service to our community and especially our youth – they need more support.

LFP: What are some ideas you have to handle the growth Lehi is facing?

In the University of Utah’s growth projection study, 85% of the state’s growth now and in the future is internal. We need placesfor our children and grandchildren to live in Lehi and somehow manage to keep the legacy of family farms and community pride intact. 

The updated General Use Plan has mapped out areas in Lehi near future transit and freeway entrances for apartment complexes with amenities like small grocery stores and restaurants within walking distance. The General Plan also includes areas of very low-density agriculture with half-acre building lots that include animal rights. We have a well-researched plan for the growth that is still coming to Lehi. As a member of the City Council, I will keep our goals and traditions firmly in mind when considering amendments to the General Plan.

It’s not just Lehi that is growing – Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain are essentially bedroom communities. Thousands of people need to drive through Lehi to get to their homes west of us. We need to work with UDOT and consider every option to get greater east-west access in Lehi. 

LFP: If elected, what is the top priority you would like to work on during the first year?

Besides building out our parks and arts programs, I want to get fiber in Lehi. Having reliable, affordable internet will make it more feasible to work from home and go to school from home, which will relieve traffic at peak times.

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