Ogden Nature Center backer launches bid to oust incumbent city council members

Wednesday , October 04, 2017 - 5:15 AM1 comment

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — A Marriott-Slaterville man doesn’t think Ogden city officials have done enough to protect the Ogden Nature Center from encroaching development and, ahead of municipal elections, has launched a campaign to boot them from office.

You may have seen Kerry Wayne’s fliers around town. He printed 2,200 of them, has distributed a little over half of them around Ogden and plans to keep it up ahead of Election Day, Nov. 7. “My goal is to change out the council and the mayor completely,” he said.

The leader of the nature center, by contrast, has only praiseworthy words for the Ogden City Council and called Wayne’s effort — launched without ONC involvement — “concerning.”

“We have a very positive relationship with the current city council. In fact, we have a history of having very positive relationships with the city council,” said Mary McKinley, the ONC executive director.

Ogden City Council Chairwoman Marcia White and Councilman Doug Stephens, meanwhile — both up for reelection and two of the officials targeted by Wayne — say the critic’s suggestions that they’re somehow not ONC backers are off base.

“I can’t think of a better place for our kids and families to go than the nature center,” Stephens said.

White noted her efforts to defend the ONC after word got out last July that Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell was hoping to lure a train manufacturing plant to land near the nature center. Caldwell’s effort, which ultimately fizzled, had sparked concern among ONC backers that the future of the entity’s presence in western Ogden was in doubt.

RELATED: Nature Center leaders 'taken by surprise' by attempted land status change

“I put my foot down,” White said, noting her call to Caldwell after learning of the proposal to voice her concerns. Suggestions in Wayne’s flier that she hasn’t sufficiently protected the nature center are “both misleading and outright false.”

Still, Wayne, who lives just west of the ONC, wonders how Caldwell’s efforts — though they didn’t pan out — could have advanced without some measure of city council backing. Beyond that, he says city leaders haven’t done enough to slow development of Business Depot Ogden around the ONC and he lamented things like the installation of street lights near the nature facility.

RELATED: Growth at BDO brings revenue, also impacts neighbors

“We need your vote to help protect Ogden’s Nature Center from Ogden city officials that won’t,” reads Wayne’s flier. It has red marks through pictures of White, Stephens and Councilman Bart Blair, up for election in the Nov. 7 vote, and touts the candidacies of their challengers, Lew Wheelwright, Taylor Knuth and Mary Khalaf, respectively.

Wheelwright, familiar with Wayne’s views, said the Ogden Nature Center hasn’t been a focus of his candidacy.

Knuth, while a backer of White, expressed measured support for some of Wayne’s criticism. The city administration, he charged, has shown ”an increased desire to bring jobs and further develop the BDO” without regard to the ONC and other entities.

Caldwell is not up for election this cycle.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.