ST. GEORGE — The preliminary election results are in for Iron and Washington counties’ municipal races, with a mix of old and new faces set to serve on the region’s city councils.
What follows are highlights wrapping up Tuesday night’s elections primarily involving local races covered by St. George News. The results of the special election to replace former Rep. Chris Stewart, in which Republican candidate Celeste Maloy was declared the winner, can be read about here.
Washington County races
St. George City Council and recreation bond
Three seats were up for grabs on the City Council this year, with two incumbents for each seeking reelection. Jimmie Hughes and Dannielle Larkin won their fourth and second terms in office respectively at second and third place with 21.8% and 20.3% of the vote, according the latest count released Wednesday. Newcomer Steve Kemp, who will replace outgoing Greg McArthur, had the most votes with 22.37% of the overall vote. The trio beat out fellow contenders Brad Bennett and Paula Smith.
St. George News reached out to the winners in the council races and spoke with Larkin. Kemp and Hughes were unavailable for comment at the time of this report.
“I feeling really happy,” Larkin said. “I’m glad people came out to vote and supported us.”
Larkin said she was happy residents did not appear to be swayed by negative campaigning, referring to leaflets left on the windshields of cars at myriad public events that pointed out her vote concerning the city’s cancellation of a special events permit for a drag show earlier this year. Larkin was in favor of reinstating the permit while the rest of the council at the time was not.
Larkin said she appreciates the public support for the general obligation bond for recreation, parks and trails on the ballot this year, which passed with nearly 64% of the vote.
As quality of life was a big part of Larkin’s campaign, it blended well with supporting the 25-year, $29 million bond. The bond replaces a similar one that expires this year and will help fund parts of the city’s recreational infrastructure like the sports fields in Little Valley and Town Square.
Hurricane City Council
In Hurricane, David Sanders lost his bid for reelection and Doug Heideman chose not to run. Joseph Prete is currently the sole incumbent successor of the three seats up for vote during the general election. He currently leads first-time candidate Amy Werrett by less than 100 votes.
in this file photo, Hurricane City council incumbent Joseph Prete speaks to residents at a Hurricane City Council candidate meet-and-greet for the upcoming primary elections in Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 8, 2023 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George News
“I would like to express my gratitude to those Hurricane residents who voted for me, especially those who assisted with my reelection campaign,” Prete said. “Assuming I stay in the top three when the final vote is tallied, I am humbled and honored by this opportunity to continue serving in the City Council.”
Former Hurricane City Manager Clark Fawcett gained the most votes from Hurricane Valley residents.
“I know I can help out in this city and that’s why I do it,” Faucet said of his bid for City Council. “I appreciate all the support from the community and look forward to working with the other council members in this new role.”
Hurricane resident Drew Ellerman, a former city planner in Arizona and current Washington City Community Development Director since 2007, gained the second most votes.
“I am very thankful to everybody who supported me behind the scenes and those who voted to make this happen,” Ellerman said. “It means a lot. I look forward to working for the Hurricane community — the community I live in.”
Ivins City Council
There will be a changing of the guard to the Ivins City Council in January based on the uncertified results of Tuesday’s election, with new faces defeating an incumbent and a former incumbent.
Sharon Gillespie and Sharon Barton, who helped spearhead a grassroots effort opposing “reckless development” and short-term rentals that unsuccessfully sued to stop a rezoning of The Retreat rental and commercial development, were the top two vote-getters among six who were vying for three spots on the council.
Kevin Smith, CEO and executive producer of the Tuachan Center of the Arts, was 2% ahead of Cheyne McDonald for the third spot as of early Wednesday and 8% behind Gillespie and Barton.
If the results hold up, all three will be new to the council.
Gillespie, who is often seen in the audience of City Council meetings, told St. George News she’s “trying to wrap her head” around the idea of being on the other side of the dais.
“I am humbled and honored to serve this city we all love so much,” she said.
Barton, who like Gillespie was a frequent resident advocate at council meetings, said she doesn’t think it will be strange as much as exciting.
“I’m looking forward to working with the other City Council members, and I believe a priority for all of us is to review and finalize Ivins’ revised general plan.”
Gillespie and Barton were two of the founders of Defenders of Greater Ivins in September 2022. Both were in the plaintiff seats during the civil trial against the city and a developer to overturn a rezoning for The Retreat residential and commercial development in Southeast Ivins.
While Gillespie and Barton were ready to declare victory, Smith wasn’t.
“I don’t want to assume yet that I have enough votes until all the votes are counted,” Smith told St. George News.
Smith followed his uncle and founder Hyrum W. Smith as head of Tuacahn and also serves on the Utah State Board of Tourism Development, Greater Zion Tourism Advisory Board and Zions Bank Regional Advisory Board.
In the run-up to the election, Smith said he had benefited a lot from this city and wanted to “give back.”
“Assuming the numbers hold, I will be honored to serve on the council and will do my best to represent the great residents of Ivins, helping to ensure that the way we conduct city business and manage growth will match the majesty of the red rock canyons that surround us,” Smith said.
Jenny Johnson, a percentage point behind McDonald and three behind Smith, would end a long tenure on the council. The 50-year-plus resident of Ivins who helped to start Heritage Days was seeking her third term.
McDonald was seeking a return to the council after he was voted out by 47 votes in 2021 in an attempt for a fourth term.
Washington City Council
Two of three incumbents on the Washington City Council retained their seats, while Ben Martinsen was replaced by Troy Belliston, a former city councilman who lost a first bid for reelection four years ago.
“I’m not sure what feels better about the election this time,” Belliston told St. George News via email. “The win after months of campaigning or the relief of the campaign being over. I really want to thank all of those that have supported me over the years and through this election, my parents and my wife especially.”
Craig Coats told St. George News he is excited to start his second term on the City Council, while also gaining the second-most votes.
“The city is in a good place,” Coats said. “I look forward to working towards keeping the city smaller, measured growth, good planning — for the older and the newer residents alike.”
In a victory celebration, Kurt Ivie gave a speech shortly after the first poll results were posted. With the most votes in Washington City, Ivie too thinks the city is “heading in the right direction and setting standards for the county.”
“The hardest part is putting yourself out there,” Ivie told a group of supporters in Washington City. “For me, the reason I run is because of my family and friends, the community that we try to build and the good things that we try to do, so thank you.”
Iron County Races
Iron County bond proposals
Iron County voters had two general obligation bond proposals on the ballot, both of which were unsuccessful.
An $89.9 million proposal by the Iron County Commission to fund a new county jail and sheriff’s complex failed by a nearly two-to-one margin. According to Wednesday’s updated totals, 7,824 people (64%) voted against the bond, while 4,402 (36%) voted in favor.
Meanwhile, Iron County School District’s bond proposal was more closely decided yet still came up short. The district was seeking $75.5 million to build two new schools and fund several other major infrastructure projects. According to Wednesday’s updated totals, 6,126 voters said no, while 6,068 said yes, a difference of 58 votes or less than one-half of a percentage point.
The Recreation, Arts and Parks sales tax reauthorizations proposed in Cedar City, Parowan and Brian Head all passed.
Cedar City Council
In this file photo, incumbent Cedar City Council member Tyler Melling speaks during debate at Southern Utah University’s Hunter Alumni Center, Cedar City, Utah, July 31, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News
Incumbent Tyler Melling won a second four-year term on the Cedar City Council, where he will be joined by newcomers Robert S. Cox and Carter Wilkey.
“I’m honored to have the trust of Cedar City voters,” Melling told Cedar City News on Wednesday morning. “After seeing the five- and six-figure campaign budgets last cycle, I committed to make affordable campaigning great again and kept this year’s campaign expenditures below $1,000.”
Melling, who was the race’s top vote-getter with 3,317 votes as of Wednesday evening, added:
“To me, this campaign represents our community’s desire for less government influence in daily life, balancing history with opportunities for the future, and sustainable resource management. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue serving for another four years.”
Cox, who garnered 2,991 votes to finish second, said he plans to hit the ground running and “do what I need to do.”
“I just want to thank all of the candidates who ran,” he added. “I admire those who are willing to throw their hat in the ring, especially in the environment that we’re in.”
“This is probably the cleanest City Council race I’ve ever seen in nearly 30 years,” Cox added. “Kudos to those that did run.”
Cox also expressed his thanks to his supporters.
In this file photo, Cedar City Council candidate Robert S. Cox speaks during debate at Southern Utah University’s Hunter Alumni Center, Cedar City, Utah, July 31, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News
“I’ve been asked for many election cycles to run and I was finally like, you know, I do need to take my turn,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing my civic duty and being a wise steward of the taxpayers’ money and making some good decisions that will hopefully help Cedar City remain the awesome city that it is.”
For the third and final seat, Wilkey’s lead over fourth-place Brittany Fisher stood at 109 votes as of Tuesday night. As of Wednesday, Fisher had narrowed the gap to 62 votes, but Wilkey appears to have secured a seat on the council by outpolling Fisher 2,860 to 2,798.
“I’m very encouraged by the results thus far,” Wilkey said on Wednesday morning. “I hope that the numbers stay the way they are and that the lead stays the way it is. And if I come in at No. 3, I get to serve Cedar City. I’m excited and ready to go to work.”
Wilkey also praised his fellow candidates.
“It was a very clean campaign,” he said., “Nobody slandered anybody. It was very respectful and cordial. It went the way election season really should go.”
Enoch City Council
For Enoch City Council, two of the three incumbents running were reelected, including the two top vote-getters, Shawn Stoor and David Harris.
The incumbent who didn’t win reelection was Westley Harris, who ended up in fourth place. Supplanting him and securing the third seat on the council was Debra Ley, who received 780 votes to West Harris’ 578.
Parowan City Council
Newcomers John Dean (712 votes) and David M. Harris (677 votes) were the top two vote-getters for Parowan City Council. The next two candidates, incumbent David M. Burton and newcomer Jessica L. Smith, were initially tied with each other when the totals were released Tuesday night.
However, Wednesday’s updated totals show Burton with a seven-vote lead over Smith, 592-585. The race’s other incumbent, Jim Shurtleff, was eliminated after finishing fifth in the voting with 498 votes.
St. George News / Cedar City News reporters Jeff Richards, Haven Scott and Chris Reed contributed to this report.
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