In a recent episode of Utah Stories, host Richard Markosian engaged in a thought-provoking discussion with mayoral candidate Angel Castillo, shedding light on two critical issues plaguing Ogden and the state of Utah at large: the affordable housing crisis and flawed economic development practices that favor massive corporations over locally-owned businesses.
Castillo concedes that there is an alarming lack of affordable housing options for working-class residents in Ogden. She emphasized that this issue extends far beyond Ogden, as the entire state struggles with unaffordable housing. Castillo expressed deep concern for middle-class individuals who earn less than $60,000 annually and face challenges in purchasing homes, and even trailer parks are becoming out of reach for many.
Owning property, Castillo stated, is essential to breaking the cycle of generational poverty, fostering wealth independence, and securing a stable future for families. Moreover, she stressed that affordable housing is vital for attracting and retaining working-class professionals, ensuring the prosperity of the entire community.
The conversation shifted to discuss the state’s farming crisis, particularly in Summit County, where a farmer’s land is now worth much more than the income it generates. The increasing unaffordability of farmland has led many farmers to sell, raising concerns about food self-sufficiency in Utah. Angel Castillo proposed a solution by advocating for land banking, a system where non-profit entities preserve farmland with restrictive covenants to ensure its continued use for agriculture. This would provide young farmers with affordable leasing options and bolster Utah’s ability to produce its own food.
“I have nothing against big companies at all. However, the data shows that the investment in locals stays longer and upsets the ecosystem of how growth is happening in a less invasive way than bringing in big development and putting our infrastructure needs by giving tax increment financing (TIF) away that nobody’s paying into this infrastructure. So that is how a city goes bankrupt,” Castillo said.
Delving further into economic development practices, the interview highlighted the dangers of relying on tax increment financing (TIF) to attract big-box retailers to the area. Castillo emphasized that TIFs can lead to a dependence on corporations for tax revenue, potentially harming local businesses and creating a vulnerable financial structure for the city. She stressed the importance of investing locally and fostering a vibrant community, as local businesses contribute significantly more tax revenue per acre than large corporations.
Discussing her candidacy for mayor, Angel Castillo shared her previous campaign experience in 2019 and her determination to tackle these challenges head-on. She expressed a passion for incremental development, bottom-up initiatives, and investing in the people and businesses within the community. Castillo also praised Governor Cox’s focus on rural areas and self-sufficiency.
The interview concluded with the promise of breaking a significant story concerning homelessness and drug-related issues in Salt Lake City on Monday. It highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to governance, addressing both housing and social challenges for a brighter future for Utah.
“It takes some real investment to dig deep and understand what those unintended consequences and underlying costs are. Because you may look at what’s on the top of, oh look, new building, big box store. That’s exciting. But then you look underneath and that’s the iceberg part of what that costs you and who’s paying for that,” Castillo said.
Angel Castillo’s platform for affordable housing and balanced economic development has garnered attention and support from various communities in Ogden. As the mayoral race unfolds, her innovative ideas continue to resonate with residents, and her commitment to transforming the city’s future could shape Ogden for years to come.