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These are mayoral candidate Ben Nadolski’s priorities to meet Ogden’s ‘blue-collar grit’

Ogden mayoral candidate Ben Nadsolski outside the city's Pleasant Valley Branch of the Weber County Library, Sept. 13, 2023.
Saige Miller
/
KUER
Ogden mayoral candidate Ben Nadsolski outside the city's Pleasant Valley Branch of the Weber County Library, Sept. 13, 2023.

Ben Nadolski takes after his mom. As a kid, the Ogden City Council member and mayoral candidate spent his childhood at Arizona State University with his mom, Linda.

“She said, ‘I'm going to go back to school, finish my degree, and then I'm going to run for office.’”

Linda Nadolski went on to serve on the Phoenix City Council and as vice mayor. She later ran for mayor, making it out of the primary election – but she fell short in the general election.

Nadolski remembers waking up in the middle of the hot Arizona night to get a drink of water only to find people packed in his home. His mom was organizing, speaking with constituents and, as Nadolski puts it, “giving back and contributing to the community and making an impact.”

He didn’t expect to become politically involved and yet he isn’t surprised by it.

Nadolski moved to Utah in 1996 to play football at Weber State University. He had other offers, but couldn’t shake the feeling he had when stepping foot in the city. It was a sense of home and what Nadolski describes as “blue-collar grit.”

“A ‘can do’ attitude of if it's not right, we'll make it right and we'll do that by doing the work ourselves,” he said. “It just really resonates with me. I really feel connected to that part of our community. It's just bred into our ethos.”

He’s been an Ogdenite ever since.

Now he wants to leave the city council and instead lead the growing city as mayor. He hopes his experience within city government will give him the tools to deal with his top priorities of infrastructure, affordable housing and economic development.

Infrastructure woes

Nadolski’s biggest concern is the city’s aging infrastructure.

“We have had decades and decades of deferred maintenance in infrastructure. We have spent, in the last 10 years, a ton of money catching up on that. But we've got more catch-up to do, especially for roads and sidewalks.”

He already has his eyes on the first project – a water pipeline coming down from Ogden Canyon. It’s over 100 years old and has failed before, Nadolski said, leaving residents “without water for days” while it was repaired.

But the repairs aren’t cheap. It would cost the city millions of dollars to replace the system. To Nadolski, the water pipelines are a project that “should keep city leaders up at night,” until it’s fixed.

“Our water is our lifeblood. If we can't have water that's safe to drink and delivered reliably, we are going to have huge troubles and none of these other things even matter. It's so fundamental to our future.”

Nadolski doesn’t think Ogdenites should foot the bill for every infrastructure project. While it would take millions to fix the water pipeline, he believes the city can partner with state and federal entities to receive grants. The grants, Nadolski hopes, would help fund the necessary maintenance so the burden wouldn’t fall on taxpayers.

Tackling housing needs

Ogden isn’t immune from the aggressive need for housing in Utah. But Nadolski doesn’t just want any type of housing. He believes there’s already enough rental stock and not enough affordable homeownership opportunities to help build generational wealth.

“There's nothing wrong with rentals. We need to have it. But we've been overbuilding and there's just an overdemand for rental because it creates the best return for developers.”

If elected, the focus would be getting Ogdenites into homes instead of rentals. He said he would work with developers to identify the best and cheapest options for families. That, to him, might not mean a traditional family home.

“I think it's important that we plan for the size and scale of homes that people can afford,” Nadolski said. “I think that townhomes are becoming the new, you know, starter home and if there is a single-family home, then we probably need to work on having smaller lots so that we can reduce the price of them.”

He added that there could be density bonuses for developers and the city could look into leasing land to developers instead of selling it to them.

Cultivating economic growth

When Nadolski moved to Ogden, he said the city was in a bad spot economically. But, in his view, that isn’t the case anymore – companies want to invest and the city can decide who to sign contracts with.

“I want to make sure that we have responsible economic development that provides a fair and open competitive space for that kind of capital and that kind of development to participate in Ogden.”

Instead of approving any kind of development, Nadolski said he wants to be “choosey” and “more competitive.” He doesn’t think the city should bite on every opportunity presented, but rather be selective of the best offer for the best buck.

Nadolski said he would rather have contractors working with what Ogdentites want and need instead of what the market determines.

The general election is Nov. 21.

Editor’s Note: This profile of Ben Nadolski is the second of two profiles in the Ogden mayoral race. You can read more about Taylor Knuth here.

Saige is a politics reporter and co-host of KUER's State Street politics podcast
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