Virgin Town Council candidates seek family-friendly development

L-R: Top: Virgin Town Council candidates Lee Ballard and Lori Rose. Bottom: Kevin Stout and Jay Lee. | Photos submitted, composite by St. George News

VIRGIN — Two four-year seats on the Virgin Town Council are up for election in November’s municipal election, and four candidates are vying to fill them, including Lee Ballard, Planning and Zoning Commission members Lori Rose and Kevin Stout and Town Council incumbent and past mayor, Jay Lee.

St. George News asked the candidates to tell voters a little bit about themselves and why they’re running presented as follows in alphabetical order based on last names.

Lee Ballard

Q: Background and qualifications?

Lee Ballard is running for Virgin Town Council in the November municipal election, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy Lee Ballard, St. George News

I moved to our town 27 years ago and married a local, Brad Ballard, whose mother grew up in Virgin. I manage our town post office and the attached book shop, which is currently closed while we finish building our house.

After serving two terms (2006-13) on the Virgin Town Council, I sat out the last go-round to work on personal business. As a council member I worked long hours to gather input from citizens and devise fair and practical ways to incorporate their desires into Virgin’s planning and zoning documents.

Over the last four years, in addition to my postal and book duties, I have stayed up to date in the world of local government by working as a consultant, helping property owners navigate permit processes, creating ordinances for other towns and, for one town, writing a complete general plan.

Q: Why are you running and what do you hope to achieve if you’re elected?

I would love to return to work for my hometown now. The job of council is all about solving problems, and I have missed the challenge of finding solutions that the majority of our town can live with, in the place I care about most.

Among other important goals, I would like Virgin’s government: to identify and attract businesses of various types that will energize the town without great negative impacts on its character, residents or efficient operation (residential growth does not pay for itself); to ensure ordinances are sufficient to prevent large new projects from harming neighboring properties, while providing shortcuts to make smaller, lower-impact development affordable and easy; to ensure all the costs of new growth fall on its developers rather than existing taxpayers; and to utilize policies that encourage actual public participation in town decisions (hearings are fine, but an active forum for debate and negotiation can bring us to the most well-rounded solutions).

Our community has seen some conflict over the last few years, which I feel is artificial and unnecessary. Virgin is full of smart, talented and caring people of all sorts, who are surely able to get along and make practical, respectful, unbiased decisions. If our council and planners listen hard, study options and take the time to find compromise, I know we can work out solutions that will benefit business owners, visitors, farmers, families, and residents of all ages.

Jay Lee

Q: Background and qualifications?

Jay Lee in a family photo; he is running for Virgin Town Council in the November municipal election, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy Jay Lee, St. George News

I was born and raised in Virgin and have lived there all my life, and I understand the town.

I’ve been elected mayor three times. I’ve been on the Town Council twice. I’ve been through all of the League of Cities and Towns trainings. I understand the Utah Constitution.

I was instrumental in getting the Virgin BMX track installed, and I’m still working with the BLM on the other 70 acres so we can get some activities in there for our kids – skate park, ball fields and hiking trails.

Q: Why are you running and what do you hope to achieve if you’re elected?

I was out of politics for a while and I’ve seen what’s happening, so I wanted to get back in and see if we could cut some of the regulations and restrictions on property owners.

I’d like to simplify and reduce our ordinances and get back some of the freedoms that have been lost.

We’d like to reduce taxes and fee-burdens on our citizens.

I think we’re already a family-friendly town, but we need to offer affordable housing so we can attract families of all sizes.

I like the small hometown environment – it’s clean and safe.

I’d like to provide a place for families to pursue their dreams. We need some businesses along SR-9 so that families can stay here. Now, they have to leave and go somewhere else – our kids and grandkids.

We’d like to provide money for the town budget and jobs for the citizens.

Lori Rose

Q: Background and qualifications?

Lori Rose is running for Virgin Town Council in the November municipal election, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy Lori Rose, St. George News

Having lived in Virgin 20 years, I appreciate both the perspectives of those who grew up here and those who moved here more recently. We are growing and that is increasing tension between people as we struggle between different visions for the future.

I have served over six years on the town’s planning commission, and in my professional work am known for bringing groups together to develop ambitious plans built on broad consensus which becomes the framework for success.

Q: Why are you running and what do you hope to achieve if you’re elected?

I am committed to finding solutions that serve the entire town. A town for all of us!

I want to hear what townspeople think. I regularly post on my public Facebook page, accessible to anyone. Please visit at facebook.com/VoteLoriRose and share your ideas.

I will prioritize finishing the General Plan update, a plan based on citizen input that creates a vision for the town’s future and develops strategies to achieve our collective goals.

I will work to create affordable housing opportunities in our town so that families and workers are the foundation of our community.

I will work to attract quality businesses while protecting residential neighborhoods.

I will promote planning and projects that protect recreation access to public lands.

I believe we are unified by a love for our town – its quiet neighborhoods, friendly people, rural character, dark night sky – so I believe we have common ground to find solutions to the challenges we face.

Kevin Stout

Q: Background and qualifications?

Kevin Stout in a family photo; he is running for Virgin Town Council in the November municipal election, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy Kevin Stout, St. George News

I’ve lived in Virgin for 52 years. I grew up here and have lots of family here.

I was on the planning and zoning commission years ago. I’ve been chairman on the planning and zoning for the last year and three-fourths.

I‘ve been president of the Virgin irrigation company for 14 years.

Q: Why are you running and what do you hope to achieve if you’re elected?

I’m running because I care about the future of our town and the future of our children and our posterity.

I think Virgin can become prosperous with some responsible growth that might allow our children to stay here if they would like when they get a little older.

I’d like to see some affordable housing in one or two areas that would allow working people to afford to live in their own place – that’s one of my goals.

I’d like to welcome businesses and not be anti-business while protecting the integrity of our neighborhoods.

Read more: Virgin mayoral candidates talk responsible growth, affordable housing

Ballard, Lee, Stout and Rose will appear on the Virgin ballot in the Nov. 7 municipal election. Polling locations can be found at the Vote Utah website.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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