ASHTON – The citizens of Ashton had a chance to meet the candidates that are seeking election in the upcoming election at a forum held Monday night at the Mills and Petrie Building.
Trustee candidates had the opportunity to introduce themselves and highlight the characteristics and experience that they can individually bring to the board.
Most candidates expressed their passion for living in a small town and wanting to help to build it up with projects and ideas to inspire growth and stability of the infrastructure.
Candidates seeking a four-year term include: Kyle Magnuson, David Chapman, Martha Holder, Chuck Ellis and Jason Grimes. Grimes was unable to attend the meeting.
Each of the candidates was then given the opportunity to respond to 10 questions regarding their experience, qualities, strengths, what they see as challenges the village is facing and solutions to those challenges.
Holder said the benefit of living in a small community is that “everyone comes together to help each other out.” Ramadani, who is looking to fulfill and unexpired two year term, says that “Ashton is a great place to raise a family and that his family came to Ashton from overseas 20 years ago and was met with open arms.”
Chuck Ellis said his years of experience as a union construction worker has opened doors for him to help with projects he has been working on at the cemetery. “I have a lot of business contacts that can help with projects like that.” Dave Chapman said that his approachability and ability to work with people will make him a good trustee. In his 13 years of engineering he has worked on grant writing and project management.
Magnuson says that his personal strength is his experience working in the village of Davis Junction, experience counts. Holder said that people who need help need to ask for it.
As far as challenges the village is facing, the most prevalent is the infrastructure, streets, alleys and sidewalks are in need of repair. Another area of concern is attracting new business and rooftops to the village. The village had plans to do some street repairs last year but the COVID 19 pandemic put a halt on it when the costs were well above the estimates.
Magnuson suggests grants are available to help with some of those repairs, Chapman suggests getting more people involved, young people especially. Ramadani says the residents of the village need to be involved in the development of the 40 acres acquired from the Blum Family Foundation.
Candidate John Martinez was unable to attend due to illness, he was provided the questions and given the opportunity to respond. Kathy Davidson represented Martinez and relayed his responses to the audience. Present village president Tim Henert was on hand for the evening.
Again, each candidate had the opportunity to introduce themselves and state why they feel they are the more qualified candidate.
Martinez has been a life long member of the community, he formerly served on the village board for two years and help the office of the village president from 2009 – 2013. He also has five years experience from serving on the school board.
Henert has been the village president for the past four years, and was a trustee for two years prior to that. He has been working on plans for the village to move forward by repairing infrastructure to seeking new businesses to come to town.
Martinez says that the strengths of the community are the school district, he feels people come to Ashton for the smaller classrooms and to get away from the gangs and things larger communities deal with.
Henert gave accolades to former village president Ray Forney for laying the foundation for a strong infrastructure system. “It is in need of repair but it is still strong.” The village has been able to pay down the debt on the Main Street project. Some things happened in the past couple of years to delay the repairs, such as the water tower going down and COVID. “Last year asphalt was very expensive, this year the costs are lower so we will hopefully be able to move forward with street repairs and sidewalk repairs as well.”
Martinez says that Ashton needs growth and he is hoping to bring an on/off ramp to I88 to build revenue for the village. He also sees the need for a subdivision and more rooftops.
Integrity is one of the top qualities that a village president should have. Martinez says that being consistent with everyone is the key. Henert noted that he is always representing Ashton and that integrity is the number one priority. Before making a decision, he stops to think how will it serve the people.
As part of a strategic plan, the most important thing is to have a plan. The village president and the trustees all hold other jobs, “we are all part time politicians.”
Martinez agrees that planning is important and we need a hands on approach.
Henert told the audience that four years ago Don Ross approached him about purchasing the 40 acres south of the high school. Part of the Blum Family Foundation’s plan was for money to be used for recreational things for the community. A committee will soon be established for beginning the planning process.
Martinez wasn’t to work with senators and representatives on the possibility of an I88 on/off ramp. He feels it is a gold mine because of our proximity to the interstate. He also feels establishing a TIF district would help.
Regarding the splash pad, Martinez said it was unfortunate that the company hired to install the splashpad didn’t take into consideration the climate that Ashton has compared to their climate in Arizona.
Henert reported that the Blum Family Foundation requested bids last year to either repair the splashpad or to replace the splashpad. Those plans will be presented to the Blum Family Foundation.
Both candidates are interested in pursuing a subdivision and more businesses in the village.
What needs to change – Martinez feels the deficit needs was overcome on his term. “We need the I88 on/off ramp to get extra motor fuel tax to be used for infrastructure repairs.”
Henert says we need to continue doing what we are doing, we all need to come together, and be involved. He noted that the studies to explore the possibility of an on/off ramp would cost the village upwards to a half a million dollars and then purchasing land, it just doesn’t seem feasible. Motor Fuel Tax is calculated per capita of the population, not by dollars spent.
Residents are urged to get out and vote on April 6. Your village depends on you.