LOGAN – When it comes to coping with future growth in Cache Valley, the local candidates to replace outgoing state Sen. Lyle Hillyard are looking in different directions for solutions.
“I’ve been talking with the Senate leadership,” says Logan businessman Chris Wilson, “to identify which legislative committees can help to ensure state appropriations for Cache Valley.”
“We need to build smart …” counters Democratic challenger Nancy Huntly, referring to the infrastructure needed to accommodate anticipated population growth and economic development. “Those decisions are made by towns, cities and counties when they do zoning and planning.”
While both contenders for the District 25 seat in the Utah Senate are political novices, their differing outlooks were clearly on display during a “Meet the Candidates” event hosted by the Cache Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
Wilson tends to take a pragmatic approach to the issue of growth while Huntly, a Utah State University professor, envisions the need for a more nuanced balance between environmentalism and economic development.
“The reality is that the population of Cache Valley will double over the next 20 to 30 years,” Wilson explained. “An estimated 70 percent of that growth will be coming from our children and grand children, so that increase is a good, positive thing to happen.
“But we need to make sure that we have the necessary infrastructure in place before that growth comes. If we don’t, then we risk losing our values and our identity.”
Wilson looks south to the state government for help in meeting those infrastructure challenges.
“I feel that we’ve been left out of too many appropriations that we should have had in the past …” he added. “I want to work with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Utah Department of Transportation and other state agencies to see that we secure the funding needed to prepare for the growth that’s coming.”
But Huntly believes that the best decisions about to growth-related issues are made closer to home.
“As we build infrastructure,” she emphasized, “we need to think about not just immediate needs … but also the long term cost of maintaining those facilities so that we make good decisions and build economically.
“We also need to account for the increasingly hotter, dryer, more extreme climate that we now have and build our infrastructure to stand up to those conditions.”
Along with healthy communities and good governance, land stewardship is one of Huntly’s top priorities as a candidate.
“We must act to keep clean and ample waters, to have cleaner air and to accommodate growth and development …” she argued. “I will work to preserve a healthy landscape that supports the priorities of Cache and Rich counties and all Utahns.”
Wilson believes that cooperation between local residents and public officials at all levels of government is key to meeting future challenges.
“As your senator,” he pledged, “I will work to unify leaders in business, education, city and county government and private citizens to create a shared vision to address smart growth in northern Utah, including road infrastructure, air quality, high-paying jobs and affordable housing.”
Huntly and Wilson face off in the general election on Tuesday, November 3rd.