In the debate over the highest executive seat in the city of Ogden, Weber State University was the central focus.
The mayoral candidates — Mike Caldwell, the current Weber County public information officer, and Brandon Stevenson, Ogden City council member for seven years and WSU alumnus — both focused on issues that were specific in many cases to WSU.
The first topic covered in the debate was a much-discussed issue: parking. This issue brought up a variety of other problems, many relating to the recently tabled streetcar initiative, a proposal brought before the city of Ogden which looked to create a streetcar system that would bring people from downtown Ogden to the university.
“Finding ways that Weber State University students can get here to class and do it without driving” was a point that Stevenson revisited on several occasions. Another idea Stevenson presented dealt with running an express UTA bus from the FrontRunner to campus.
“There are a lot of different options here,” Caldwell said. “There is not one magic bullet to address that issue.”
Stevenson went into more detail, outlining his belief that more downtown living space is needed.
“It is critical that we develop additional living spaces in the downtown, specifically directed towards students, so that our students are living downtown and are able to actually connect to a bus or whatever transit (that is) made available,” Stevenson said.
The topic of jobs and the economy was also covered.
“If something is working, don’t fix it,” Caldwell said. “. . .Last year, Ogden City was the second-top job-producing city in the nation.”
Stevenson met with WSU President F. Ann Millner about high-tech incubation. He explained that “bringing businesses from the start-up, helping them be successful, and bringing those from Weber State University students that are being developed in that way as well” is important to growing the job base in Ogden.
The candidates went on to address several other issues. Stevenson spoke in detail about developing lower-income areas into safer and more productive communities.
“We want families to come in and feel safe,” Caldwell said.
Stevenson said that actual work needs to be done to motivate people to care for their communities.
“I think community engagement is a critical component, because the best way to improve a neighborhood is to get the community involved,” he said.
The candidates wrapped up with questions from the audience, which ranged in subject from internships for WSU students in the mayor’s office to more complex issues, such as protecting the environmental sustainability of the city.
Matthew Globburd, WSU junior and vice president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society which hosted the debate, described how events like this debate are important for students, the university and the community.
“A lot of students get their party ID or come to their political careers in college,” Globburd said. “By having the mayors here on campus, (it) connects students to the mayors and the city and, vice versa, with the city to the campus.”