CEDAR CITY — Voters in Iron County should start seeing their general election ballots in their mailboxes within the next few days. They’ll have until Nov. 21 to return them, either by mailing them or by dropping them off in person at designated locations.

File photo shows voting stickers at Iron County Courthouse in Parowan, Utah, Nov. 4, 2022 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Iron County Clerk Jonathan Whittaker confirmed on Tuesday, Oct. 31, that the county’s ballots were delivered to the post office in Provo earlier that afternoon.

Following is a short breakdown of what voters can expect to see and the decisions they will be making as they mark the ovals:

Federal offices

The first race on the ballot is the special election to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, who resigned Sept. 15, citing his wife’s health concerns. That race is the reason that Utah’s Election Day is two weeks later than most of the rest of the country’s. 

A total of seven qualified candidates are listed in the District 2 race, including Republican Celeste Maloy and Democrat Kathleen Riebe, who recently debated each other on television. The five other names in the race are Cedar City resident Brad Green of the Libertarian Party, January Walker of the United Utah Party, Cassie Easley of the Constitution Party, and independent candidates Perry Myers and Joe Buchman.

Municipal offices

The next section of the ballot contains the nonpartisan City Council or Town Council races, if applicable, for the municipality in which the voter resides. There are three cities in Iron County with contested races for City Council seats, namely Cedar City, Enoch and Parowan.

Cedar City Council candidates debate at Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 10, 2023 | File photo by Jeff Richards, Cedar City News

In Cedar City, six candidates are vying for three seats on the five-member City Council. Tyler Melling is the only incumbent running; he is seeking his second four-year term. Also running are Mark Mumford, Kathy Long, Carter Wilkey, Brittany Fisher and Robert S. Cox. The six recently appeared in a public debate hosted at Southern Utah University.

Meanwhile in Enoch, five candidates are seeking election for three City Council seats, including incumbents David Harris, West Harris and Shawn Stoor. Joining them on the ballot are challengers Debra Ley and Brandon Cox.

And for the five-member Parowan City Council, five candidates are vying for three seats, including incumbents David Burton and Jim Shurtleff. Also on the ballot are David Harris, Jessica Smith and John Dean. Each of the five candidates was asked several questions by interviewer Jennelle Zacaj, who compiled their responses. The summary document can be downloaded and viewed from the city’s website at the following link. 

Ballot questions

All Iron County voters will have two separate bond proposals on which to vote, one being a $75.5 million proposal by Iron County School District for various projects and the other being a nearly $90 million proposal to fund a new county jail. Following is a brief overview of each:

School bonds

Iron County School District’s general obligation bond proposal is designed to pay for five main projects that address anticipated growth, as previously identified and prioritized by school board members: 

Construction of a 10th elementary school in a growing area of the district, with the location yet to be determined.
A new building to house the district’s alternative programs, including Southwest Education Academy and Launch High School.
New additions to Canyon View High, including nine more classrooms, expansion of the weight room plus new spaces for dance and wrestling.
All-abilities playground equipment at all district elementary schools and preschools.
Artificial turf was installed on the fields at all three of the district’s high school football stadiums (Cedar, Canyon View and Parowan). 

Iron County School District Superintendent Lance Hatch and other officials tour construction site at Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 3, 2023 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Because previously issued bonds are soon scheduled to be retired or paid off, the $75,465,000 proposal is being called “tax neutral.” The language on the ballot states, in part:

However, because the District has other outstanding bonds that will reduce over time, it is expected that there will be no ($0.00) incremental property tax increase on residences and businesses within the District from current annual levels after the Bonds are issued.

“Iron County School District recognizes the unsure nature of the current economy,” district public information officer Shauna Lund said in a written statement, adding, “District leaders take a responsible approach when requesting and using bond funds, spending proceeds as needed, only on the approved projects, much like they have done with voter-approved bonds from 2021.”

As previously reported, progress on the various 2021 bond projects can already be seen, including the additions currently underway at both Cedar and Canyon View middle schools, along with the construction at Cedar City’s new East Elementary. Next up is a new multipurpose building in Parowan, for which ground is expected to be broken next spring.

Extensive information about the 2023 bond proposal and the various planned projects can be found on the school district’s website 

County jail bond 

Iron County is seeking voter approval for more than $89 million in general obligation bonds to the construction of a new county correctional facility to replace the current jail that was built in 1987. 

Officials welcome those in attendance to a special Iron County Commission meeting to discuss jail funding options, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 31, 2023 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The much-debated issue has been discussed at length over the past few years, with county officials holding several public meetings devoted to the topic. 

As previously reported, after one such public forum on Aug. 22, Iron County commissioners initially voted to raise the county general fund’s share of the property tax rate via the “truth in taxation” process. However, at their regular meeting the following week, the commissioners reversed that decision and repealed their earlier vote in favor of putting the measure on the ballot as a bond proposal instead. 

“Iron County urgently seeks $89,500,000 in bonding to construct a new jail and sheriff’s complex southeast of the airport,” reads a written argument on the county’s website in favor of the proposal. “With your support, this new facility will be built by 2026, solving the short and long-term needs of our community for the next 50 years.” 

County officials have expressed a sense of urgency, saying that inflation and rising costs have already increased the project’s total price tag by nearly 25% from three years ago.

“If we act now, the anticipated cost to the average residential homeowner will be $12.75 per month,” the statement reads. “Iron County hopes this cost will be even less with the additional revenue it makes from housing other state inmates.” 

For more information about the proposed jail project, visit the Iron County’s jail webpage, which also includes archived videos of previous public meetings, along with informational graphics and a voter information pamphlet. Also, see the related story links below for previous Cedar City News coverage.

RAP tax reauthorizations

Mayor Garth Green prepares to cut ribbon while being flanked by city officials and others involved with the pickleball courts project at Bicentennial Park, Cedar City, Utah, July 31, 2023 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Also on the ballot in Cedar City, Parowan and Brian Head are propositions for reauthorizing the RAP (recreation, arts and parks) tax in those communities. The RAP tax, which is in the form of a 0.1% sales tax, is already in place in all three of those municipalities but needs to be renewed every 10 years in order to remain in effect, according to state law. Check back on Cedar City News for a related story about how Cedar City has used RAP tax funds for various projects.

Brian Head ballot proposition 

The town of Brian Head is proposing $3.5 million in general obligation bonds for planned safety and beautification projects, including crosswalks, transit stops, along with improvements to streets, trails, lighting and utilities. 

Questions about ballots and voter registration

Any voters who have questions about their ballots, or who do not receive a ballot in the mail are asked to contact Iron County Clerk’s office either by phone at 435-477-8340 or via email at clerk.group@ironcounty.net. Voters may also check their registration and ballot status at vote.utah.gov.

 In-person early voting will be available at Iron County Courthouse, 68 S. 100 East, Parowan Nov. 14-17, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Additionally, in-person voting will take place at the courthouse on Election Day (Nov. 21) from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Election Day polling stations will also be held at Cedar City Offices, 10 N. Main, and Enoch City Offices, 900 E. Midvalley Road, also from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 21.

To see a copy of Iron County’s official sample ballot, click here.

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