Carey-Kidman Mayoral Debate

By Bob Hembree
Posted 6/12/24

The first of three Page City Council candidate debates kicked off June 5 at Page Public Safety Facility (Police Dept.) The Page-Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce organized and conducted the event. The …

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Carey-Kidman Mayoral Debate


The first of three Page City Council candidate debates kicked off June 5 at Page Public Safety Facility (Police Dept.) The Page-Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce organized and conducted the event. The Chamber also provided a live YouTube stream for those who couldn’t attend. Questions were prepared in advance by chamber board members. Additional questions were drawn at random from citizen submissions. The first round was for city mayor. Bill Diak, current mayor, is not running for reelection. Brian Carey and Stephen Kidman each had time to introduce themselves before time-limited questions were asked. Allotted times for each candidate ranged from 1-5 minutes based on the subject matter.

Mayoral candidate Brian Carey is currently a city council member. Carey’s 32 years with the National Park Service (NPS) began as a tram driver at Everglades National Park when he was in college. He’s worked at national parks in Florida, Texas and Arizona. Carey made Page his home in 2009. His last position at NPS was Deputy Superintendent at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Carey served on the city’s parks and recreation board before he was elected to Page City Council and began serving in 2020. He’s worked with Lake Powell Community Foundation. Carey describes the foundation as a “charitable organization that manages funds, mostly in affiliation with SRP at the time, for scholarships for grants to some of our small nonprofit organizations like cuddles and Light Powell Concert association and Catholic charities.”

Addressing the debate audience, Carey said, “I've also worked with some of you in my seven years on the parks and recreation advisory board. Mayor Diak invited me, recruited me to be on the original board there, and we did some tremendous work.”

“We took a hard look at all of the city's parks,” said Carey. “We urged [much] needed maintenance, and then we did a 15-year master plan, all of these things in coordination with city staff and as a team project. We had the skate park replaced. We replaced all the playground equipment at Children's Park and at the sports park annex and at Golliard’s [Park]. We put in the larger community center parking lot and the lighting and the pedestrian [walkway through the park]. And that work has continued on as we now have the Elm street fitness park and many other facilities.”

Stephen Kidman owns and operates RD’s Drive In. He moved to Page about 46 years ago. “Most of you know me when I'm wearing my uniform and RDs,” said Kidman. “I might look different without my visor on, but I moved here to page in 1978 when I was 10. And except for a brief stint away to college and for a five year time where I was operating in RD's Drive In up in Orem at University Mall. I've lived here the entire time. “

“The main thing that I do is, of course, work at RDs and operate and all that, and it keeps me busy,” said Kidman. “I have [a] wonderful wife. We got married in ‘99 and we have six children. The third one graduated just a week ago, so we still have three boys at home and three girls that have graduated on. I'm involved in the community whenever I can be. I especially am involved with music programs when it comes to high school musicals and stuff. Some of you would recognize that I've been there serving, helping with, playing the piano from year to year. But as far as anything else you'd like to know about me, I don't know. I'm not full of words. I know that the reason I decided to run for mayor, I feel I can do a good job. Having been a business owner here in Page for decades, I feel I have a good pulse on what is needed in the town.”

Kidman was given three minutes to answer the first question from the moderator’s panel. “Do you feel you're adequately prepared to be the mayor of Page and please share some qualifications you feel you have so voters can understand your readiness to represent them?”

“Yes, I feel that I would be qualified,” said Kidman. “I'm a quick learner. I've had to operate a business as a sole proprietor. I've had to balance budgets, I've had to maintain costs and controls. I've had to work with a lot of employees. I've had to deal with conflict resolution, dealing with all the issues that come with having employees under you, dealing with customers, all of that has given me experience that I know that I would be able to use in this position. I get along with people and I'm always willing to work with people and have done so my entire life.”

Carey responded to the same question, “I've worked on a number of city advisory boards prior to my 4-year term on the council, so I certainly have learned how our utility systems, our budgeting systems, our capital saving systems have worked. Before that, I've been a community person. I intend to continue that. It started way back when I was in our CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) and doing service work. My life has been public service. I feel that those who can should. And so that's kind of been my personal motto. If I have something to contribute, I try to contribute it.

“In terms of budgets, I administered a $12 million operating budget and $20 million project budget at Glen Canyon. And similarly here as a team, the council manages over a $55 million budget as of this year. In terms of leadership, there's been a lot invested in me by the National Park Service in terms of executive coaching and leadership training and various things like that. It does help you understand who you are and so you can understand better how to work with various people, especially those who are different than you or that have different opinions or that approach problems differently.

“I'll talk a little bit about conflict resolution as we go on here, but being a councilman is not the easiest job in the world. You do have to come down on one side or the other of an issue, and oftentimes that is not popular with the folks that you have not voted with. So it does take a bit of a spine, and it does take a bit of a mouth to explain your reasonings. I think I have both of those.

“I do think that it's important to understand that Page is ready for the next 50 years. We have a wonderful community. We have stabilized the city's budget. We have a rainy day fund that is secure. We are ready to tackle some big projects. I do also think that Page can walk and chew gum at the same time. Although the constitution of Arizona only requires the city to provide streets and police, we provide a whole lot more, and most of it at an excellent quality. So I'm ready to lead both our council and our city staff through the various appointees of the council, to achieve those goals, to continue to provide positive encounters for our citizens, customer service, to do so in a fiscally responsible way, and to make sure that Page stays on the map in Arizona and in our region.”

The second question asked was, “How would you represent the City of Page, with our state capital, the county and the Navajo Nation?”

Kidman answered, “Well, I haven't had any personal experience as yet dealing with the state level government, but I feel that I would be capable to do so, [be] deliberate [on] what we were needing to communicate with the state and what we request from the state -- with the tribe as well. Having a familiarity with the Navajo people growing up here, I don't know everything about the Navajo tribe or how it operates, but I do know that if I respect them that I can have a good working relationship with them and the same thing with any other government interactions that would be required.”

Carey, responding to the same question, said, “I do have the benefit, again, of a federal career, so I'm certainly familiar, and I've worked with multiple federal agencies, the Bureau of Reclamation here at the dam, Bureau of Land Management in Texas. I worked with the Secret Service and Mrs. Johnson's detail in Florida. I worked with Kennedy Space Center. So I'm familiar with some of the thinking and some of the culture of the federal agencies. I'm certainly familiar with the planning processes. I've dealt with some complicated planning things.

“I was recruited to come up here, and some of the first two projects I was involved in was to make sure we got the second deepening of The Cut, which was kind of hung up in a bit of a compliance nightmare. So I managed to pull that one through. The other one that was hung up in compliance was the intake station for a possible second straw. And so I was involved with both of those issues before I was even working with the City of Page. So I do have some background on that. As far as tribal relations, I also worked with our Rainbow Bridge consultation committee. So I'm familiar with the five tribes that claim our area.

“I have given presentations at LeChee chapter, at Navajo Mountain chapter, Ts'ah Bii Kin, Oljato. So I'm familiar with some of the issues that are faced by the western part of the Navajo Nation. That's our closest partner. And I've worked with Supervisor Fowler at the county level on a couple of projects, one of which was the regional trail alliance, which we got off to a good start, which Mr. [Steve] Mongrain here in the office, has managed to see almost across the finish line. So those are exciting things. I hear a lot [of] people say government is slow. It's not actually slow, it's deliberate. And that's to make sure everyone is included, every voice is heard, and that we make the best decision we can. That would be my goal as well.”

The third question asked was, “As mayor, what would you say are the top five concerns for the city of Page and how would you lead us and address your top five concerns?”

Kidman answered, “Top five concerns for Page, in my opinion, No. 1, I'm very concerned about the second straw that if the city has a critical failure in any of several parts that have been identified that it would be very, very troubling. And so that's one of the major items. Relationships with the public, I think are very, very important. And I think that in the past, unfortunately, even though there has been transparency, there has not been clarity and it has caused a lot of friction and a lot of people upset at the city. I think that's very important to correct, of course, the infrastructure, the housing, which there was a great meeting with Habitat for Humanity, a great presentation at the recent economic development board meeting this past week, and it was very impressive. So the housing issue is top priority. And I think that with the correct pushing and with the correct motivation that it can be tackled and in a timely manner.  I think those are the top [of] many of the top issues.”

Carey, answering the same question, said, “Let's talk about housing first. It is a nationwide problem, and it didn't happen yesterday. It's been overnight building in terms of no housing stock, and we're in a gateway community, particularly attractive for people to move to. It has indeed caused a housing crunch. I would continue to do what our council has been doing, which is try to increase housing stock at every single level. We've had 13 single family homes in the past year and a half. We've added 12 manufactured homes. We've added eight townhomes or single family homes, single family attached homes. 54 apartment units are under construction at Whispering Sands. The Pinion Point transitional housing is another 21 housing units. That's how housing is going to be tackled. One bite at a time. The Habitat for Humanity I'll be bringing up along with Councilor Leightner at the next board meeting on the 12th to ensure that we have some council buy in on proceeding on that. On second straw. Again, 2004, is when that problem was recognized, other councils did not do anything about it or did not have success because it's a hard problem. I would continue to be in the room and to make sure that we are with the right partners that will help us. We have a couple of exciting opportunities that may come up, one of which is using the NGS intake and buying raw water from the Navajo Nation. Again, that's going to require good timing and good coordination with the Nation on that. Otherwise, we're going to be pursuing federal funding, state funding and others to try to not only replace our aging infrastructure at the dam, but also upgrade our water treatment plant.

“I think building an aquatic center is an important next step for our parks and recreation. Page deserves this. Our youth deserve it. That's a high priority for me. I also agree with expanding communications. Under my urging, the council has had the city manager dedicate a position to social media. Make sure we have the best website we can, have the sign boards come in. I've tackled Facebook on my own and tried to make sure that information is out there that's accurate. I would continue to do that and I'm not afraid of communicating. I want to make sure that people know what the council's doing and what they're heading for. I don't think we've done that well in the past. Those are some of things that are most important to me.”

To watch the full mayoral debate, visit the Page Chamber YouTube channel at