HURRICANE — Like most who live in Southern Utah, residents who live in the Hurricane Valley would like to preserve a small-town atmosphere. Yet the town has nearly doubled in size within the last 10 years, according to census data.
In 2010, the US Census Bureau reported 13,748 residents living in Hurricane. In the latest data showing the St. George metropolitan area leading the nation in growth, the small town is included with 23,077 who live in the valley.
St. George News asked the Hurricane City Council candidates in the upcoming election about their plans for growth, maintaining public awareness on critical issues and the Washington County Water Conservancy District rebate program.
What follows are the candidates’ bios with their direct responses, which have been lightly edited for style and clarity.
David Sanders is one of two incumbents seeking another term. As a lifelong resident of Hurricane, he stayed to raise a family and spent more than 35 years officiating high school sports.
Public relations: With Hurricane covering 54 square miles, having neighborhood town hall meetings would allow citizens to have dialogue with the City Council.
Traffic: There are master-planned roads in which we need to prioritize and budget. With roads needed and the budget to build them limited, thinking outside the box to fund them would be a suggestion. Working with Utah Department of Transportation planners and our legislators concerning state Route 9 and state Route 7 improvements to keep traffic flowing on those routes. Sand Hollow is a State Park within Hurricane city limits and is strongly becoming one of the most highly visited. Access is from a city road, if we could get state assistance to improve that road it would be welcome.
Water rebate: I believe the rebate program would be a great aid to our citizens who want to participate. When it was voted on, some members of the Hurricane City Council wanted stipulations made by Washington County Water Conservancy District which came to an impasse. I supported the rebate program, but was not the prevailing side.
Joseph Prete moved to Hurricane eight years ago to raise his family. An estate attorney by profession, he is seeking a second term on the city council having been elected in 2020.
Public relations: Members of the community can participate in the political process in multiple ways — running for election, voting for their preferred candidates, attending public meetings, making public comments, rallying support for or against key issues, reaching out to elected representatives, etc. I love to see active public participation in the political process, and I enjoy discussing city issues with community members. While doing so, I strive to dutifully do what I believe is in the best interest of the entire community, without preferential treatment.
Traffic: The city has taken significant steps to reduce traffic congestion including construction of 2800 West and 700 West, which will soon provide two north-to-south corridors. Additional corridors are needed, and we need to widen some key roadways including Sand Hollow Road. Roads are very expensive and Hurricane comprises 54 square miles, so the City is always forced to prioritize available funds to the most pressing roadway projects. The City also pursues state and federal grants, when possible, to make our taxpayer money stretch further. Residents concerned about a particular roadway should raise the issue at a public meeting.
Water rebate: I am for the rebate program and many other efforts to promote water conservation. We have a very real water scarcity issue in Southern Utah and I support wise efforts to increase and conserve water including construction of new reservoirs, digging new wells, repair of leaking pipes, reuse of wastewater and reasonable conservation efforts/incentives.
Hurricane City Recorder Cindy Beteag told St. George News that current Hurricane City Councilman Doug Heidemann is not running for reelection, leaving a third seat open on the council.
Drew Ellerman moved to the Hurricane Valley in 2004 with his wife and children. He has spent most of the last 28 years as a city planner in Arizona and is the current Washington City Community Development Director since 2007.
Public relations: First of all, I want the citizens to know my phone will also be on to receive their calls concerning any issue in the city. I also plan on personally getting in touch with citizens that will be individually affected by some of the big decisions that may have to be made over the coming years. I will be willing to hold ‘cottage meetings’ in specific neighborhoods where certain issues/decisions may warrant extra dialogue or discussion.
Traffic: Fortunately or unfortunately, growth is going to come and add to our already heavily used streets. We will undoubtedly have to find alternative routes throughout the city to accommodate the demand. Certain streets will have to be upgraded (or widened) in order to meet those demands. The city already has a master roadway plan, we will just have to implement the improvements of certain streets sooner than later. I will pursue those tough decisions to only affect the least amount of citizens as possible.
Water rebate: This is difficult, I admit I love beautiful green grass — comes from my baseball-playing addiction. But, I am also fully aware of the need to protect our water supply which supersedes my love for acres of green grass. I appreciate that the program exists to help offset property owners’ costs to go to an alternate landscape design that can still beautify their homes and businesses and our community as a whole.
Amy Werrett has lived in Hurricane for 17 years and has worked as a speech and language pathologist for 26 years. She has worked in home health, hospital and private clinic settings, as well as 15 years with the Washington County School District and as a vice chair for her local precinct, and a county/state delegate.
Public relations: If elected, I will be available to any resident to listen, talk and try to help and understand all sides and concerns before voting on any particular issue or action. I will seek clarification when needed. I know many in Hurricane feel marginalized and I would like to be approachable and welcoming to all. As a practicing speech/language pathologist for more than two decades, I have learned the importance of how to listen and communicate effectively. I help children learn to advocate and communicate for themselves. I will be a voice of common sense and help advocate for the residents of Hurricane.
Traffic: Hurricane is growing rapidly and covers a large geographic area. The Southern Parkway in Hurricane is a great example of being able to quickly connect the north and south parts of Hurricane. The city needs to be proactive with planning for growth and find innovative solutions to provide better access across town for all residents. There are a couple of intersections in Hurricane that are particularly dangerous and busy. We should consider many alternatives, including looking at the timing of traffic lights, improving crosswalk safety and good lighting at night. Getting ahead of growth and being proactive instead of reactive is the key for the city council. There is a master plan that has been through several drafts and revisions with input from the planning commission, city council, city staff and residents. It is important to stick to that plan as much as possible and carefully vet any reasons for exceptions to it.”
Water rebate: The rebate program needs to be better advertised. My family recently tore out some of our grass to put in more drought-resistant landscaping in our backyard and I wish we had known about the rebate program before we did it. I am in favor of the program because it is voluntary, not mandatory, and allows for private property rights, yet provides incentives and encourages responsible water conservation efforts.
Clark Fawcett previously spent 37 years as the city manager in Hurricane before retiring in 2021. He is a certified public accountant earning degrees from Dixie State and Brigham Young University.
Public relations: I put together a shared Google doc for my campaign with a QR code. In the document, I shared my views on a number of topics. I would like to continue to use that document after being elected. I would make sure the code was available and each week I would write a little about important decisions and upcoming events.
Traffic: Traffic is definitely a negative result of growth. The city streets are still pretty good, except for those going to and from school at the beginning and end of school. We have a great master plan with designated roads. If the plans are followed and the roads are built, I feel pretty good about traffic as we grow. The biggest problem I see is the state highway. I know plans for the highway going west from 2600 West will be a grade-separated road with exits. This will greatly improve the flow with no lights and should help. Following the plans already in place will be the key.
Water rebate: One of my big concerns has been how the government will handle water conservation. I know we need to conserve, but I don’t want to eliminate all my landscape so more people can locate here. I am in favor of the government offering to buy the water, not steal it. I think the program offers money for landscape elimination. I don’t know the full details; it may not be enough. But as long as the citizens are given the option to eliminate landscape in exchange for payment, not being forced to do it, I am in favor.
Stephen Lemmon is a lifelong resident and business owner in the Hurricane Valley. Lemmon did not respond to emailed questions or phone calls from St. George News in time for this publication.
Dixie Convention Center, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George.
Tuesday, Nov. 14 — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 15 — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 16 — Noon to 4 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 17 — Noon to 4 p.m.
Hurricane Community Center, 63 S. 100 West, Hurricane.
Tuesday, Nov. 14 — Noon to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 15 — Noon to 4 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 16 — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 17 — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Valid voter identification is required. Registration by provisional ballot will be available at both locations.
The Utah municipal general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 21. A polling location for all Washington County precincts will be located at:
Dixie Convention Center, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George
Hurricane Community Center, 63 South 100 West, Hurricane
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for voters to return their ballots or vote in person. Voters must be a citizen of the United States; residents of the voting precinct in which they are voting; and 18 years of age or older by the general election in order to participate. Voter identification will be required.
Visit https://vote.utah.gov/ for more information, or call Washington County Elections at (435)301-7248.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.