Meet Steven Shields, Herriman’s newest city councilman
Jan 27, 2020 10:44AM
By Justin Adams
Steven Shields (left) takes the Oath of Office alongside Jared Henderson (right).
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
The 2019 municipal election cycle saw one newcomer elected to Herriman City’s legislative body, District 4’s Steven Shields.
Shields has lived in Utah for 25 years, a majority of that time being in the southwest part of the valley. He’s now lived in Herriman for about six years after having previously lived in Daybreak.
If you asked Shields how he got involved in local politics, he’d tell you it was an accident.
“About 18 months ago when the Olympia Hills thing came up, I was caught off guard,” he told the Herriman Journal. “I was surprised. I thought of myself as an educated person. I thought I was up on current events, and I had no idea that something that huge could be happening in my own backyard, and I’d not even know about it.”
From that moment on, Shields resolved to be more engaged in local issues. He started attending city council meetings, trying to learn more about what was going on in his city.
When Councilwoman Nicole Martin announced that she wouldn’t be seeking re-election for her District 4 seat, people began asking Shields if he knew anyone who would be interested in running. He came up with a dozen names, but none of them were interested. When someone suggested that Shields himself run, he was dismissive at first.
“I told them it wasn’t really my thing, but it kind of came an issue of principle for me,” Shields said. “If I believe that the most important form of government is the smallest form of government that’s closest to the people, and I’m not willing to serve in that government, then it felt a little hypocritical. It was a crisis of conscience for me. I had to decide, if not me, who? And if not now, when?”
And so, after consulting with his family, Shields decided to run.
For someone whose local political activity was spurred by the controversial Olympia Hills development, it wasn’t surprising that the first two topics listed on the “Issues” page of Shields’ campaign website were “Growth” and “Density.”
“We need to slow down,” wrote Shields under the “Growth” section. “Not only do we need more responsible decisions about land use and zoning, but I believe that we need to better prioritize infrastructure improvements before new developments happen.”
Shields said he’s not focused on just one issue.
“I am concerned about development,” he said. “I’m concerned about the economics of our city and whether we can sustain our growth in the future. Just like everyone, I’m concerned about traffic and schools—all the things that are common interests that everyone has. I’m not sure I can pick one over the others and say, ‘This is why I got into politics.’”
He also said although he does have strong principles that influence his positions and decision making, he does want to consider everything with an open mind.
“I am comfortable acknowledging that my personal beliefs and priorities may not be the best answer for any situation,” he said “I am OK with being wrong and changing a position based on better information. My principles guide me through a process of asking difficult or uncomfortable questions and being OK if the answers lead me to a conclusion that was different than I would have assumed at the beginning.”
Engaging with residents is an important part of Shields’ political activity. Before he even announced his candidacy, his name was a recognizable one in Herriman-area Facebook groups thanks to the posts he made about various local issues.
“Whenever there’s an issue that catches my attention, I generally overdo it when it comes to trying to learn everything I can about it,” Shields said. Then he tries to share that information because, as he said, “Not everybody has the time or inclination to do all that research.”
Shields said residents can expect to continue seeing such posts from him on social media, but cautioned people not to take anything he says as anything more than his opinion.
“I can only speak for myself; I do not speak for the council; I do not speak for the city,” he said. “I can only represent what my thoughts and feelings are.”
When asked what his goals are for his four-year council member term are, Shields emphasized his role as a team player.
“If people expect that I can come in here and accomplish something great or make dramatic changes, they probably don’t understand how our form of government works,” he said. “I’m one of five voices, so I hope to contribute to the decision making. I hope to ask good questions and perhaps influence the topics that we talk about. But as far as my goals, I want to be able to build good relationships and help our city get the best results we can get.”