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The City Journals

Three Sandy City Council members to retire, with 54 years of combined experience

Jun 19, 2019 04:21PM ● By Justin Adams

Councilwoman Linda Martinez-Saville, the longest-serving membrer of the current council, will retire at the end of the year after 24 years of service. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

The Sandy City Council will have a very different look next year. The council’s three longest-serving members, Chris McCandless, Linda Martinez-Saville and Steve Fairbanks, are all retiring and taking 54 combined years of experience with them. 

“It is sad to think that I’m not going to be here,” said Martinez-Saville, who has been on the council for 24 years. 

Besides the obvious reason to retire (spending more time with family, enjoying retirement, etc.), all three council members referred to increased incivility within the city government as a reason for their decision.

“Often the negative statements have been personal, rather than issue oriented, and in many cases, uninformed or categorically false,” McCandless said in announcing his retirement earlier this year. “Such negative statements become a small rock in the ‘backpack’ of every elected official that he or she gets to carry — 24/7.”

A written statement provided by Fairbanks to the Sandy Journal said, “Regrettably, we have started to see the rancor that maligns our national politics descend to the city level, wherein people find it necessary to pair disagreement with discourtesy.”

Martinez-Saville said she’s done her best to not get involved in inter-governmental drama but that she has been disappointed by what’s going on in the city. 

However, McCandless said his primary goal in his last six months will be to ease the tensions that have existed between the council and administration.

Councilman Steve Fairbanks will step down from the Sandy City Council at the end of the year after serving for 16 years. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

The councilmembers said their impending retirement has not affected the way they handle business.

“Traditionally people that are signing out want to vote for tax increases and do things that aren’t necessarily popular,” said McCandless, who voted against such a tax increase. 

Martinez-Saville did vote for a possible tax increase, but not because she’s retiring, she said. 

“It’s about doing whatever is best for the people,” she said. 

Of the four remaining members, all but one are in their first term. Maren Barker was elected in 2015, and faces re-election this year. Zach Robinson and Brooke Christensen were elected in 2017. The most experienced council membrer will be Kris Nicholl, who was elected in 2012. 

McCandless said only time will tell whether the city suffers from the loss of so much institutional knowledge from the council at one time.

“I’ve been involved not only with this city council but multiple city and county councils in my career and there’s no question that the cities with younger, newer city councils suffer. There’s a learning curve. Everyone goes through it,” he said. 

Fairbanks said he’s been impressed by the council’s youngest members, Robinson and Christensen. “They dove right in and started learning,” he said about their first two years. 

With four council chairs up for grabs this election, and three of them without an incumbent, this November’s election has the potential to significantly alter the makeup of the council. How Sandy residents engage with this municipal election could have a lasting impact on the direction of the city for years to come.  

Be sure to follow the Sandy Journal on Facebook for updates about the election process at www.facebook.com/SandyJournal.