ST. GEORGE – With campaigns for city councils across Washington County having come to an end with the passing of Election Day, the people of St. George were greeted with a the potential of a new face on the city council.
While the election results have yet to be made official, new city councilman Jimmie Hughes is confident of his victory.
The night of Nov. 8 found Hughes trailing near the bottom of the list of candidates as votes were tallied. Initially, Ed Baca and Gloria Shakespeare were trading places for the third councilor seat. As the night wore on however, Hughes passed both candidates. And while the numbers between Shakespeare and himself remain close, Hughes isn’t worried.
“We feel pretty good about the numbers,” Hughes said.
Hughes noted the results will not be finalized for another seven days after the election. During this time absentee and provisional ballots will be processed. There are about 300 votes that have yet to be received and counted, he said, and added that the majority would have to swing in Shakespeare’s favor in order to unseat his lead. Hughes said he doubts what will happen.
The current tally between the candidates stands at 3587 votes for Hughes and 3474 votes for Shakespeare.
The Next Step
So now that he’s won a seat on the city council – albeit an unofficial win until votes are finalized – what issues does Hughes intend to take on first?
Hughes said that there were a lot of issues to tackle, but he focused on reforming city codes and regulations, as well as making sure the city spent taxpayer money responsibly.
“There was a lot of [voter] support on the codes,” Hughes said. “[City government] needs to stay out of peoples’ backyards.”
He also said he would do what he could to untie the hands of local businesses so they could prosper, thereby uplifting the local economy.
Hughes reaffirmed his commitment to responsible government spending as well.
Sometimes, he said, the city council may need to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time when it came to issues like public safety. However, Hughes said such instances should never be the norm.
“Fast decisions should be rare,” he said.
In reference to the St. George carousel, a subject that has been a bone of contention for a number of city residents, Hughes said the city council moved as fast as it did out of fear of losing the desired carousel to another buyer.
In this instance, Hughes said the wheels of government should have moved slower.
Hughes recognized the frustration of St. George citizens towards the carousel, but also said that they evidently were not frustrated enough to vote out more council incumbents.
Open and Accessible
As a potentially new member of a city council – and a new politician – Hughes acknowledged the dangers of getting drunk on any perceived amount of political power.
“I don’t want to be that person,” Hughes said.
With a laugh, Hughes said that he had friends and family that stood ready to give him a “slap upside the head” if he ever stepped out of line.
“I want to be accessible as much as possible,” Hughes said.
Whether that meant dealing with an unhappy constituent or listening to someone with a concern or suggestion for the city, Hughes said he would be open and available to everyone.
“I have to listen to everyone,” Hughes said. “You get in trouble when people don’t listen.”
Hughes acknowledged that his victory could still be overturned by the absentee and provisional ballots, but nonetheless wanted to thank everyone who voted on Nov. 8.
Should the Hughes maintain his lead over Shakespeare, he will officially join incumbents Jon Pike and Gil Almquist on the St. George City Council.
Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent