Issues

The city IS the People!

Orem citizens, our families, and our communities, ARE our city.  We cannot forget that.  We need to refocus on the People, preserving and building Community, and concentrating on the SERVICE part of  public service. 

 

Value and Respect Police & Fire

Public Safety is one of the primary functions of government.  Every citizen wants to feel safe.  They want their children to be safe.  I am proud to have fought for Appropriate Pay for our Police and Fire.  Keeping our city safe is critical to our quality of life and I will work to Build Connections and Cooperation between our People and Public Safety to keep both citizens and officers Safe and Respected.

Engaged with & Accountable to The People

City decisions should be made by the people Directly Accountable to the People.  City officials and employees should Engage, Participate and Build Bonds with citizens and our communities to strengthen our city.  I will Drive and Work that Vision starting Day 1.

 

State Street Master Plan

The State Street Master Plan must be reworked to foster an environment of Support and Stability for Local Businesses.  It must be a part of our community.  I am not willing to surrender our State Street to a sea of High Density Housing and endless parking problems. 

 

Work to Keep Family City USA

Friendly and Amazing People, Safe and Strong Families and Communities, A Variety of Recreational Opportunities, Open Space, Beautiful Surroundings – Restoring and Preserving Family City USA will take hard work, ingenuity and dedication – all qualities ingrained into my character and Orem’s soul – So Let’s DO IT!  

 

Answers to Emailed Questions

Why are you running for Mayor?
I have a profound love and appreciation for this great country. I came from a place where the voice of the people is silenced. I was born in Egypt as a Refugee, a man without a country of his own. I came to the U.S. in 1997 with nothing but $37.50 in my pocket and the hope that this great Country offers. In 2001 I moved to Orem for work and married my wife Lexi. I love this city and have been committed to giving back and getting involved for many years. I have served as a Volunteer In Police Services (VIPS) for the police department for seven years, I’ve been a youth sports coach, and I currently serve on the Planning Commission. The more I’ve gotten involved, the more I’ve grown to love Orem and the amazing people, and the community and family bonds, that make it such a great place to live.

The more I’ve gotten involved, the more I’ve realized there are problems that need to be fixed. We need to return to a Public Service mindset and remember that citizens are the most important part of a city. Sometimes we all just need the reminder that it’s the citizens that are supposed to be running the show. I will bring that perspective to the city and ensure every citizen feels listen to and heard. I have also seen the wonderful people serving both as employees and as citizen volunteers through my service with the VIPS program and through involvement on the Planning Commission. Let’s bring those people together with a commitment to connecting with people and reinvigorating outreach to keep the great things growing and make sure Orem continues to prosper.

I have also had the privilege to grow and sell multiple business here in Orem. With strong business experience and my involvement working with many city issues, working with our public safety, and with the Planning Commission and City Council for seven years; I know how to get things done in government but still look at things from a business standpoint, especially when it comes to budgeting. I’m passionate about making a difference so the people don’t get left out of our city. People, Community and Service isn’t just a tagline for my campaign, it’s the reason I’m running, it’s what will keep our future bright.

What are the three biggest challenges facing our city and how do you plan to address them as Mayor?
1 – Growth is always a challenge, especially with so many of us wanting our children and grandchildren to experience the same joys we have had living in Orem, and like most things in life, there is good and bad to growth. We simply have to be smarter about the way we’ve been doing things in this regard. I believe with a bit of innovation and a lot more reaching out to citizens we can find better solutions, and I am committed to working hard on both of these aspects to improve our quality of life for all citizens.

2 – The State Street Master Plan needs to be redone. The current plan disregards business and economic activity and puts far too much high density on State Street, along with the accompanying traffic. This has created an uncertain environment for many businesses in Orem, which is not healthy for our city as a whole. I will foster an environment of support and stability for local businesses and provide a place for ideas born from our pandemic experiences to grow, allowing us to create a much better plan.

3 – Parking and traffic are huge issues as we grow and welcome more families into our city. We have to be more realistic about parking requirements for new development and not pretend cars will go away. We know most people that use public transit in Utah still have cars; we cannot allow inadequate parking to spill into street parking that creates safety issues. Which brings us to traffic, adding people adds traffic and we need to work with the State as a partner to find ways to increase the flow and improve the efficiency of our road system. This may mean some difficult construction decisions, but as a businessman I know sometimes those hard decisions are the ones that bear the most fruit long term.

What are the three biggest strengths here in Orem City?
1 – By far the biggest strength is the people. We have a very active charity/non-profit community and people in general are service oriented. We have an abundance of strong families. We also have a large pool of all kinds of talent from music to technology. There are several innovative technology companies that have started in Orem.

2 – We have great educational opportunities with good public schools, public charter schools, and private schools available. We also have great higher education opportunities nearby with UVU, MATC and BYU. UVU in particular has an incredible variety of options for post K-12 education.

3 – I love the variety that Orem provides. We have great opportunities to shop, eat, work, and play close to home. We are surrounded by incredible beauty and a wide variety of outdoor activities to enjoy, including our great parks. These options close to home reduce traffic, air pollution, wear and tear on road and cars, and in general improves our quality of life.

Do you have any goals or concerns related to Education in Orem?

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The water quality for Orem is quite poor in comparison to Salt Lake City and even the rest of the U.S. What are your plans, (if any) for improving this for the residents and how much of an improvement do you expect?

I have never heard anyone complain about the water in Orem.  The Herald recently ran a story about the exceptional water quality here.  I am interested in your concerns and why you think the water quality is poor.  Can you tell me more about that?  I would like to hear your perspective on this issue.

 

https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/central/orem/orem-claims-to-have-best-water-in-utah-ontap/article_b1bf3ea4-7475-5a88-8cfb-35a290cc0424.html

Do you have any plans to address the air quality of the city and how?

Orem’s air quality has improved significantly in recent years and I anticipate that will continue with expanded use of transit, tier 3 gas, more electric cars etc.   That said, it is a continuing effort in which evolving technology and innovation, including innovative policies, should be evaluated for applicable use in our city to improve air quality and generally be conservation minded.  Most of all we need to be responsible stewards of our environment and examples of sustainable practices.  I will always commit to ensuring we use the best solutions no matter where they come from.

Do you have any goals or concerns related to Education in Orem?

Giving our kids the best education possible is always a concern.  While city government does not deal with education issue directly, I am very supportive of a strong education system and providing opportunities for families within the city to add to their formal education.  I will always be open and available to meet with the leaders of our Schools, our great parents, and teachers to find ways that Orem and I personally can be of service in that regard.

As a resident of the city, how can I best help you achieve your goals as Mayor?

First I have to get elected Mayor, so can I bring you a sign to put up in your yard?  

One thing we can all do is to reach out and build bridges to others, especially those we may disagree with or are different from us in one way or another.  As Orem grows, we as individuals and families will play a big part in keeping our family friendly, community feel.  We must discuss the issues with our friends and neighbors and be willing to find solutions that we all can get behind.  That may mean we go at it a little bit differently than we originally thought but we will get to the destination together and prosper together.

There are so many opportunities in city government and in our communities to serve depending on the thing you’re interested in and time available etc.   Are there any issues you would like to work on that I can help you with?

Given your background in business, do you feel that the local tax/government spending situation is appropriately balanced? Are citizens and corporations taxed too much or too little? Does the government spend too much or too little?
I am a fiscal conservative. I also understand that city government is closest to the people and should listen to the people and the level of city services they desire. I think elected officials must be vigilant and up-to-date to constantly look for ways to serve residents more effectively and efficiently. Every dollar the city spends is taken from a taxpayer’s pocket. I believe we must keep that in mind. Given the level of services our citizens have supported, I think we do have about the right balance, but that does not mean we should not always strive to do better.

I have had the privilege to grow and sell multiple business here in Orem. With strong business experience and my involvement working with many city issues, working with our public safety, and with the Planning Commission and City Council for seven years; I know how to get things done in government but still look at things from a business standpoint, especially when it comes to budgeting. I know how to prioritize and make the tough decisions necessary to balance a budget and run a tight ship fiscally.

Recently there was a controversy surrounding the Orem Public Library's Pride Month display. One city council member and some Orem residents expressed concern that the display does not represent our values as Orem residents. Do you support the Orem Library's LGBTQ-friendly pride month display?
I believe government must protect the civil rights of all citizens. I also believe government should not in any way supplant the rights of parents and families to educate and discuss sensitive issues with children. I understand the concern regarding the Library’s Pride Display, although some of the concern was handled poorly. For me there are really two issues to consider here: One, was there anything in the display that was sexually explicit or inappropriate for young people who often frequent the Library? The second, is this a normal thing for the Library to do for other celebrations? Is it typical? If it is normal for the Library to have such a display and the items were carefully chosen to be age appropriate, I don’t have a real issue with the display. I suppose the argument could be made that it doesn’t fit with our “family values,” but I also believe treating others with respect and valued as a human being, are also important “family values.”
Do you feel that the 2020 presidential election was fair or that it was manipulated/rigged? Can we trust the results of our elections?
I believe that we can trust the results of elections in Utah. We have been using mail-in ballots for a number of years and it has gone quite smoothly here. That’s not to say nothing every goes wrong, even in the old system, but I do believe results are reliable. While I do believe that there were some instances of irregularities and problems in other areas, I don’t believe the 2020 election was rigged or manipulated in a way that would have changed the outcome. I do believe we must do better and that asking for identification is not an unrealistic expectation.
Are you in favor of Rank Choice Voting in Utah?
I don’t like the idea of RCV because it obscures the final head-to-head comparison between the strongest candidates that helps voters clarify who best matches their policy views. Valid or not, people already feel like it is too difficult to really research candidates. I also believe this is the wrong time to consider a system that will add confusion to the process. No system is perfect, but I believe the current system is a better system. There are several municipalities using RCV this year, and it will be fascinating to see what those cities and their citizens have to say after this year’s experience.
Are you for or against forcing the Covid-19 vaccine on all eligible citizens?
I am absolutely opposed to any kind of forced Covid-19 vaccination, and in researching what the Legislature did during the last General Session, I don’t believe there is any appetite for such a mandate. Anything like this would go entirely against the foundational principles of this great country and my deeply held principles.

Are you for or against segregation based off of vaccination status?
Absolutely not. I don’t think much else needs to be said on that one. This would be a massive breach of our liberties and core values.

Would you work to fund or defund our law enforcement if given the option?
I am not for defunding the police in any way. I am proud to have fought and brought people together to get appropriate pay for our police and fire personnel. Keeping our citizens safe is critical to our quality of life and one of the core functions of city government. There is no way I will make vital policy decisions based on the fact that there is the rare “bad cop.” We make terrible policy and funding decisions, often with terrible unintended consequences, when we allow emotion, individual cases, or outside pressure from groups driven by emotion or agendas not related to the safety of our communities. I have worked as a volunteer with the Orem Police Department for seven years, and in my experience, we have very dedicated police personnel. Of course, there are always areas to improve. I want to concentrate on building connections between the people and public safety to keep both citizens and Public Safety personnel safe and treated with respect. We need to work to keep our more experienced and talented officers in Orem and not lose their training and experience to other agencies. We need to ensure that they have the proper equipment to keep our officers safe while they keep us safe. And, we must be constantly mindful that each dollar we spend is taken from the taxpayers and must be spent most effectively and efficiently.
If presented with a request, would you or would you not provide funding to a company for the implementation of ERG (Employee Resource Groups)?
I would not provide funding for an ERG program. This would not be the proper role of city government and would be a misuse of precious taxpayer dollars. I find it frustrating that this type of program is concerned with every kind of diversity but the diversity of thought or values. This has led to very unhealthy societal trends and political discourse. I will not support programs that breed division by creating an “us” and “them” mentality. The stated goal of programs like ERG often sounds great, but in practice, they are divisive. As an immigrant to this country, I understand what it is like to be one of “them,” to be profiled or stereotyped. Even as I write this, I got a message stating I should “go home.” This is my home. I worked very hard to become a citizen. I continue to focus on giving back to my community and this great country rather than concentrating on the rare case of ignorance and bigotry. There is far more good than bad, and no program will eliminate all bigotry. The great “program” to end bigotry and divisiveness is treating others with the respect we’d like to be treated. We do our City, our country, and society, in general, an enormous disservice by treating diversity as a zero-sum game.

Do you believe the members of the City Council are representing the constituents' wishes for the future of the City?
Considering that neither the City Council members nor constituents are homogenous groups, I suppose the honest answer is “sometimes.” I do believe we have relied too heavily on city staff and that policy decisions need to be made by the people (the Council) directly accountable to the people. The more I’ve gotten involved over the years, the more I’ve realized there are problems that need to be fixed. We need to return to a Public Service mindset and remember that citizens are the most essential part of a city. The citizens are the heart of the team. I will bring that perspective to the City and ensure every citizen feels listened to and heard. While we have differences, we have good people serving currently and other good people running for the Council. I have also seen the wonderful people serving both as employees and as citizen volunteers through my service with the VIPS program and through involvement on the Planning Commission. Let’s bring these people together with a commitment to connecting with our citizens and reinvigorating outreach to keep the great things growing and make sure Orem continues to prosper.
In your opinion, do Orem kids need to mask up for school this next school year?
I would not support a mask mandate for our kids but would support parents in their decision one way or the other.

Should children be Covid-19 vaccinated for the new school year?
It should be up to parents whether to vaccinate or not. I know there are other vaccination requirements for children to attend school, but I believe there is, and should be, an opt-out, especially with a vaccine that is so new.

CRT taught in schools, a good idea or not?

No, Critical Race Theory should not be taught in our schools. We should never teach anything that says a person’s character or value is defined by their race. The resolution the Legislature passed said that any discussion about race should not include:

· That one race is inherently superior or inferior to another race
· That an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual’s race
· That the individual’s race determines an individual’s moral character.

To me that sounds like a very good place to start, and not just in schools; these are a good start for discussing these issues in general. We can honestly address very difficult issues defining a person by their race, or again, treating diversity as a zero-sum issue.

How would you protect Orem citizen freedom if Governor Cox issues lockdown mandate/vaccine mandates?
It does not appear that Governor Cox is going down that road, and the Legislature passed legislation earlier in the year that significantly limits his power to enact mandates without the Legislatures approval. While some individuals may support mandates, the Legislature as a whole has been very resistant to these kinds of extreme measures. I do try to be understanding of the fact that the modeling and original estimates were incredibly dire, and many leaders were doing what they believed best for preserving the lives of Utah citizens. That said, emergency measures went on far too long and were far too inclusive. I would fight an attempt at such mandates on Orem citizens.

Which Council members currently running would you like to work with if you are elected Mayor?
I believe LaNae Millet is very qualified and would do a good job on the Council. Dave Spencer has helped me to fix some of the problems in the State Street Master Plan. There are many good people running, and given my experience in business, volunteering and working with the City, I believe I can work well with anyone that is elected to serve on the Council.

Do you believe there has been election fraud in Utah?
I believe that we can trust the results of elections in Utah. We have been using mail-in ballots for a number of years and it has gone quite smoothly here. That’s not to say nothing ever goes wrong, even in the old system, but I do believe results are reliable. I do believe we must always strive to do better and that asking for identification is not an unrealistic expectation.