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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 09, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 20Apr00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

LDS Mayor In Ogden Moves Fast
Deseret News 9Apr00 D2
By Donna M. Kemp: Deseret News staff writer

OGDEN, UTAH -- In his first three month's on the job, Ogden's youngest mayor, 29-year-old Matthew Godfrey, is picking up speed as he races through 12 to 14 hour work days. In his first 100 days on the job, Godfrey has set out to honor his campaign promise of cutting taxes and reducing government. "He's a ready, aim, fire kind of guy," said Glenn Mecham, the 63-year-old former mayor of Ogden.

He recently submitted a reorganization plan to the City Council that would slash $250,000 out of the current budget by eliminating six top management positions. The proposal calls for a 20 percent property tax cut, and wants to hire 16 more police officers. "He's calling for some rather significant changes," Council Chairman John Wolfe said. "It's way too early," he said. "After we get through the reorganization and the end of the budget in June, it will paint a pretty good picture of what the mayor will be like."

Godfrey is currently serving as a Bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Monica have three young children and are no strangers to hard work. They started their first business while in college. Godfrey graduated with a bachelor and master's degree in four years. They borrowed down payments from credit cards in order to buy rental properties. Today, he owns 45 rental units. "We started with no money and built it up," said his wife, Monica.

The same work ethic is evident in Godfrey's political life. He brings a frenetic energy to the mayor's office. In his reorganization plan, he is calling for a combination of economic and community development under one office with one administrator. "Instead of having two administrative assistants for the mayor and chief administrative office, only one is needed," he said.

Justin R. Eccles, a retired businessman, approves of Godfrey's style. "He's not a politician but a businessman," Eccles said. "I think the city needs an outstanding young businessman." Godfrey hired Stuart Reid as his business and community development director. Reid was the former community and economic development director of Salt Lake City. "I chose Ogden because of Godfrey," Reid said. "It's because of his enthusiasm to make changes and be progressive."

"He's rearranging the chairs on the ship deck," Mecham said. "His promise of a tax cut may not be achievable." Yet, it is too early to say which of its ideas will take root. "The challenge for any newcomer is to get up to speed on the issues," said Anderson, who co-hosted a commuter rail workshop with Godfrey. "One person can't do it alone." "I think [Godfrey] understands the importance of working with elected leaders throughout the entire region," Anderson said.

Godfrey is working hard to change Ogden's image from a haven for crime to one of hiking trails, kayak parks and marathon races that will attract runners from throughout the West. "I think he has the vision of what he sees can be done and doesn't allow the past to dictate the future," Reid said. Godfrey sees a revitalization of the downtown section in Ogden. He envisions a farmers market, more downtown housing, a better municipal park and a successful Ogden City Mall. He backs the idea of a high speed rail system that would link Provo to Ogden. He has organized a coalition of mayors and non-profit groups to see that it all happens in four to six years.

"Youth can be a real advantage," Anderson said. "Certainly experience counts for a lot, but energy, both physical and mental, count for a lot, too." "There's been a time of probation," Godfrey said. "People were very nervous that I would be out of control. People now are at a real comfort level." Godfrey adds, "After all, I've done nothing radical."


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