More than 200 voters heard incumbent Tooele City candidates tout the value of experience, and their challengers appeal for the opportunity to take the wheel during a debate Thursday.
Held at Tooele Applied Technology College, the debate and “Meet the Candidates” forum featured mayoral candidates Patrick Dunlavy and Dave McCall, and council candidates Tom Poyner, Scott Wardle and Debbie Winn.
And during the debate the five candidates were asked how the city should proceed after a trial judge recently ruled that the city must pay $20.5 million in settlement to a developer.
“I have the experience, knowledge and a record as mayor,” said Dunlavy, current Tooele City mayor who is seeking an unprecedented third four-year term. “I have prepared for this job.”
Dunlavy has worked for Tooele City for 45 years as a police officer, parks department head, and city recorder.
“I have worked with and watched ten different mayors,” he said. “That experience has prepared me to lead this city.”
Dunlavy touted his experience in bringing retail and industrial businesses to Tooele and successfully navigating Tooele City through the Great Recession.
“The economy was a bump in the road,” he said. “We have created jobs and brought in business. We have a working plan to continue to do that.”
Dave McCall, who is no stranger to Tooele City government, has served six years on the city council and is the current chairman of the council. He now wants to be mayor.
“Tooele City is my home and I have the desire and knowledge to run this city,” he said.
McCall talked about how he came to Tooele on assignment as a Marine in 1993.
“I fell in love with Tooele and after I retired, I stayed here,” he said.
McCall cited his experience as a Marine and his work in human resources in the public sector as qualifications to lead the city.
“I have the ability to lead and have proven that ability,” he said. “I have the desire to do the job. There is not any aspect I cannot do well. I can do the job. I want to do it. I have confidence in myself.”
Scott Wardle, a Tooele City Councilman for eight years, led out with a list of accomplishments.
His list included working with the mayor on the budget to trim expenses and not raise taxes while keeping quality services for citizens.
While Wardle has served on the council, he also worked to help create the Tooele educational corridor where the Community Learning Center, Tooele Applied Technology College, and Utah State University now stand.
“We have more to do with building our research park, attracting research and technology based industry, and a new science building for USU,” he said. “I have the experience and I want to finish the job.”
Wardle said he also worked with the mayor and city council to draft and implement a solution to double frontage lots and set building standards that promote quality residential development.
Debbie Winn, who has served on the city council for nine months, described her vision for the future of Tooele City.
“I see the educational corridor humming with the Community Learning Center continuing to educate students where a runway and airplane hangars used to stand,” she said. “My grandchildren will be able to earn a master’s degree at USU in Tooele, or get certifications at TATC so they can get jobs right here in Tooele. Ninigret will be filled with businesses. There will be more education and more jobs and a quality lifestyle right here in Tooele.”
Tom Poyner, a candidate for Tooele City Council who currently is on the planning commission, cited 39 years of community involvement, including youth baseball, basketball and football, being a Boy Scout leader, and Bit and Spur club leadership, as evidence of his ability to lead and his love for the community.
Poyner also stated that his work experience in construction as a laborer and building inspector, along with his current work as a contractor’s representative for the federal government, would be valuable experience for the city council.
“I am a very innovative person that thinks outside the box,” he said. “I keep things moving. I am a planner and organizer that is always thinking how to do things bigger, better, and faster.”
The five candidates were asked six questions, one of which was about the $20.5 million Tooele Associates lawsuit that a Third District Court judge recently ruled the city must pay.
Candidates were asked if the city should seek further appeal or pay the judgment. They were also asked how would they pay for it.
McCall was first to answer.
“We have not met yet as a council to discuss a collective decision on how to proceed,” he said. “Personally, I feel we have spent enough of the taxpayer’s money. We can pay it, but I have no specifics on how and when.”
Dunlavy followed with the lawsuit question.
“For the last year, I have worked with financial advisors on a plan,” he said. “Twenty million is a staggering amount. I have a plan to pay the $20 million. It won’t be easy, but I believe we can do it with minimal impact to our taxpayers.”
Dunlavy added that he inherited the lawsuit and, “if you knew what I know, you would have taken the same steps.”
Wardle and Winn said they have seen and agree with the mayor’s draft plan to pay the amount set by a jury trial.
Tom Poyner, the only candidate not a current elected city official, is the only candidate that has not seen the mayor’s undisclosed plan to pay the $20 million settlement.
“I will make a difference,” said Poyner. “I want to be in that room when they make that decision about the lawsuit.”
Before the debate, candidates met with audience members in TATC’s lobby to share their campaign platforms and answer questions. During the debate, each candidate was granted a two-minute introduction and one-minute concluding statement. Each candidate also replied to questions regarding job creation, economic development, growth management, and a vision for the city a decade from now.
Early voting for Tooele City residents is available at the Tooele County Building in room 318/310 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 22, 23, 24, and 25; Oct. 28, 29, 30 and 31; and on Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Early voting for Tooele City will also take place at the Tooele Senior Center on Oct. 30 from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
The general election is in two weeks on Nov. 5.