2021 Candidate for
Pleasant View City Council
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WHY VOTE FOR PHIL NELSEN?
Thank you for stopping by and considering giving me your vote. If you're short on time, here's a synopsis of why I feel I'm the right pick for Pleasant View City Council.
I'm a former municipal prosecuting attorney. I understand what a small town's law enforcement needs are.
I'm a tenured professor of law and business. I know how to critically analyze multivariate issues to find the best solutions.
I am the owner of multiple small businesses in our community. I know what it takes to run a successful business, how to manage multi-million dollar budgets, and I also know how frustrating poorly written city codes can be for business owners.
I have lived in Pleasant View for over 25 years, and my family is actively engaged in the community. I am a member of the Weber County Chamber of Commerce, the Weber County Small Business Council, and the Weber County Legislative Affairs Committee. If you have children that play sports, it's likely my wife or I have coached them at some point. We love this city.
I run a consulting company and have spent many years consulting with state and federal officials, drafting legislation, and reading more city ordinances than anyone should ever be forced to read. I know how to properly draft and revise municipal ordinances, and have a great deal of experience doing so.
I have been professionally trained as a mediator and educator. I know how to handle emotionally charged issues without allowing my personal biases to blind my judgment.
I have spent the last decade writing about political and legal issues. My law book is distributed nationwide with over 75,000 copies sold, and my articles are regularly published in various national publications. I know how to research issues and formulate my opinions carefully.
For the past 4 consecutive years I have been recognized by Thomson Reuters as being among the top 10% of attorneys in the Mountain States region. I take pride in my work and strive to excel at everything I do.
I am a Republican who leans libertarian. What that means is I believe the proper role of government is to protect the life, liberty and property of its citizens, in the most minimally intrusive manner possible.
Still on the fence? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask me anything.
A BIT ABOUT ME
I have been happily married to my Weber High School sweetheart, Paige, since 2006. We have 3 children. I have lived in Pleasant View for over 25 years, and our family very much enjoys living in Ben Lomond's shadow. Our family enjoys a variety of activities together, but particularly bike rides, camping, hunting, and spending time with our extended families, most of which also live in the community. We enjoy traveling and have seen the sun rise over the Great Karoo in Africa, and the sun set over the Amazon river in Brazil (though not in the same day). From coaching our children's sports teams, to cheering for our daughters at dance recitals, we are enjoying this busy, but wonderful, stage of life. My primary purpose in running for City Council is to ensure this community remains the type of place where my wife and I would want to raise our children.
I have never known how to do just one job, and as a result my professional life has been as diverse as it is fulfilling.
In 2008, my brother and I co-founded an educational training firm that we grew from a single Utah based location to over 50 locations in 17 states by 2015. Working in conjunction with trade schools, state entities and private businesses, we were able to establish ourselves as the premier provider in our industry. By 2015 our firm was enrolling over 20,000 students in our courses each year, and growing at a rapid pace. In late 2014, we were approached by a group of Ohio based investors who purchased our company. I was then retained to help grow and operate the company from 2015 until 2021, during which time we grew the company to operations in over 40 states. In 2021, I once again successfully navigated another acquisition. After this second acquisition I am once again being retained to run the operations of the business. My entrepreneurship story was featured in Forbes, you can read more about it by clicking here.
I also run a few other small businesses in Northern Utah, including a consulting company and a residential real estate company I run with my wife.
In 2009 I wrote and published a 50 state firearm law guide book that has since sold tens of thousands of copies in traditional format, and is currently in its 12th edition. I also created and published a firearm law mobile phone application (available on iOS, Android and Kindle devices) that has over 200,000 users and has been a top 20 selling app in Apple & Android's "reference" categories since 2012.
I began my legal career as a prosecuting attorney in the state of Washington and have been an attorney at Nelsen Law Offices, P.C. since 2012. Our firm practices primarily in the areas of business, contract, firearm, regulatory compliance and estate planning law. I have experience representing clients in a wide variety of legal issues including complex contract disputes, National Firearm Act compliance matters, real estate development projects, criminal and civil litigation, among others. I am routinely retained by large corporations and other firms nationwide to help with legal matters.
Associate Professor (tenured):
In 2015 I was offered, and accepted, a tenure track professor position with Salt Lake Community College teaching business law, entrepreneurship, contract law and other business courses. I was awarded tenure in 2021. I serve as a faculty senator for Salt Lake Community College and have authored, or co-authored, the following courses:
MGT. 2020 - Entrepreneurship,
BUS. 1010- Introduction to Business,
MGT 1100 - Small Business Management, and
MGT. 2050 - The Legal Environment of Business.
ON THE ISSUES
Simply put, I will never vote, under any circumstances, to increase property taxes. It is my firmly held position that property taxes are the most immoral among all forms of taxation. Land ownership is not only a significant part of the American Dream, but it's also one of the primary mechanisms used by those in our community to build wealth and prepare for retirement. Property taxes serve as a disincentive to property ownership, and as anyone who has ever paid their home off understands, they make it so you never truly own your home. This year alone, the property taxes on my home will increase by $567, constituting a single year tax increase of 12.3%! Pleasant View City is currently contemplating a 16.7% municipal tax increase and North View Fire is proposing a separate increase of 15.48%. That degree of year-over-year tax increase is not sustainable.
Weber County already has the second highest property tax rate in the state, an effective rate of .75%. Within Weber County, Pleasant View is then the second highest taxed city, and that's before taking into account the tax increase currently being proposed by the city and North View Fire. The reason Pleasant View is seeing this degree of increased taxation is because they took the very unusual step of "locking" the municipal tax rates for the past several years. On the surface that sounds like a positive thing, but it isn't. Under Utah's Truth-in-Taxation law, property tax rates are supposed to be freely floating. This means when property values increase, as they have dramatically this year, Utah law is designed to automatically decrease property tax rates to avoid an unnecessary windfall of tax revenue. By locking the rates, Pleasant View has undermined a primary purpose of our Truth-in-Taxation law, and resulted in a tax increase for the past several years that otherwise wouldn't have occurred. I don't believe the council had nefarious motives when they did this, but I would certainly vote against any future rate locks of this nature.
Elected officials are under a moral obligation to limit the taxation of citizens to the minimal amount possible. Retirees in Pleasant View will not receive a 12-16% income increase year-over-year, and as such they should not be forced to confront 12-16% tax increases just to continue living in their homes. This is particularly important when we are also encountering unprecedented levels of inflation. Those on fixed incomes are seeing the value of their money decrease by 5.5% this year alone, and government is increasing their taxes from all angles. That is not acceptable.
If the city needs funding for legitimate projects, as it certainly will, it should be sought through a combination of grants, budget cuts, voluntary donations, sale taxes, or in very limited circumstances, general obligation bonds. The belief that the size, scope and spending of government must perpetually increase each year, at the expense of homeowners, is not something I subscribe to.
Let me reiterate. Under no condition, no matter how noble the cause being proposed, will I ever vote to increase property taxes in Pleasant View. Not a single penny. Ever.
REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT
Roughly 91% of Pleasant View homes are owner occupied. Residents who purchase homes in Pleasant View do so with an understanding that it is a residential community. When considering any development that might occur within the city, particularly development that would require a zoning change/variance, I would weigh the following three factors in the light most favorable to existing homeowners:
How would the new development impact adjacent homeowner property values?
How would the new development impact the use and enjoyment of adjacent homeowner properties, particularly in relation to what they expected when they purchased their home under then-existing zoning?
How does the new development impact the natural resources, including water, of existing Pleasant View homeowners.
None of this should be interpreted as being anti-development. In my law practice I have successfully represented many local developers over the years. I am soundly pro development. The proper role of government, however, is to protect the life, liberty and property of the citizens, and part of protecting property includes strictly scrutinizing zoning changes to ensure they don't result in a rug-pull to existing homeowners.
I am opposed to any more high density developments in Pleasant View.
It is no secret Pleasant View is a residential town, and nothing should change that. However, there is still room for Pleasant View to yield significant business tax revenue without impacting the residential nature of the city. Each year Pleasant View's general fund receives approximately $820,000 in property taxes and only $1,500,000 in sales taxes. That ratio of property tax to sales tax is very low compared to our surrounding cities, and is one of the reasons Pleasant View residents see an ever creeping increase in their property taxes. We need more businesses, and we need the right businesses.
In my law practice I have been privy to the multi-year planning that goes into successfully attracting the right businesses to a city. I am also a member of the Weber County Chamber of Commerce, the Weber County Small Business Council, and the Weber County Legislative Affairs Committee. I have seen how cities, like Farmington, have successfully attracted landmark businesses to their communities, while still preserving the nature of the city. I believe Pleasant View can, and must, do the same.
One of the primary reasons I am running for city council is to help update Pleasant View's municipal code. Maintaining city codes in compliance with ever-changing state laws is not easy, and in many instances our current city code runs contrary to state law. Independent of state law issues, however, our code also needs to be updated to help navigate modern legal questions such as nightly rentals, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), homeowner association covenants, home based businesses, and many other issues that the original code did not fully contemplate.
Through my political consulting business, North Wasatch Consulting, I have personally drafted various pieces of state legislation that have ultimately been enacted into law, and I regularly consult with state and federal officials on proposed legislative language. In my role as a professor I also teach others how to draft laws. Finally, in my role as an attorney I have also successfully challenged, and changed, state laws and city/county ordinances that do not comply with their applicable legal frameworks. I believe I am as equipped as anyone that could possibly hold this office to help update Pleasant View's code.
If there are any other issues you would like to discuss with me please don't hesitate to reach out. I'll be glad to share my opinion.