St. George City Council appoints Bette Arial to vacated seat

Bette Arial, appointee to Mayor Jon Pike's vacated St. George City Council seat, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The City Council seat vacated by Jon Pike when he became mayor was filled Thursday night with the appointment of Bette Arial.

The St. George City Council hearing the applicants, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
The St. George City Council hearing the applicants, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

During its regular meeting, the St. George City Council devoted the entirety of the meeting to hearing from 24 applicants. Mayor Pike noted there had originally been 25, but one applicant had been disqualified due to not meeting some of the requirements.

The council chambers were packed with the applicants and their supporters. Pike thanked everyone for attending and said, joking: “I know, this is my fault,” referring to his vacated council seat. He told all assembled that the City Council took the process of selecting a new council member seriously, and that he and the council had pored over the applications and resumés in great detail.

Pike again expressed how impressed he was that so many people were interested in serving, and told those seeking the appointment that there are other ways they can still serve the city and help improve it if they are not the one selected.

The applicants

Each applicant was given three minutes to present themselves to the council. Pike said the council would be strict on the time in order that the process to each applicant be fair. None of the applicants were asked any individual questions by the council during the meeting; all were asked to answer why they applied and why the council should pick them.

Most of the applicants said a reason they applied for Pike’s vacated seat was because they loved St. George and wanted to help the new mayor and council improve the city. Some said they were natives or long-term residents, and had no political or personal agendas but simply wanted a chance to serve.

Tara Dunn speaking to the city council. She said she be a voice for people who felt they were not adequately represented by the city council, such as the animal rescue advocates and the city's non-Mormon population, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Tara Dunn speaking to the city council. She said she be a voice for people who felt they were not adequately represented by the city council, such as the animal rescue advocates and the city’s non-Mormon population, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Tara Dunn speaking to the city council. She said she be a voice for people who felt they were not adequately represented by the city council, such as the animal rescue advocates and the city’s non-Mormon population, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Tara Dunn speaking to the city council. She said she be a voice for people who felt they were not adequately represented by the city council, such as the animal rescue advocates and the city’s non-Mormon population, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Tara Dunn and Ed Baca, who came in a tight third and fourth place in last year’s municipal election behind the the elected Randall and Bowcutt, also applied for the open seat and approached the council.

Dunn said she would represent individuals in the city who she believed may not necessarily feel they have a voice, such as people with disabilities and those negatively affected by the city’s code enforcement. She referenced the progress made on the St. George Animal Shelter, a process she helped begin by speaking out, yet also said more work needed to be done. She also said she believes the city is oppressive to live in if you are not a part of the Mormon faith, and that she would give non-Mormons a voice. She also noted the over 5,300 votes she received in last year’s city council election.

Baca said he had 50 years in public service, and spent the last 10 years serving the people of St. George in various ways. He said he wanted to contribute to a more transparent city process and that his past service, part of which includes time as a police officer, has prepared him to serve on the City Council if he were picked. He also said the city and its people should be more inclusive and respectful to those who move into the area.

Arial

Arial grew up in St. George and maintains a home located in the area beneath the Dixie Sugarloaf Rock. If selected, she said she would serve with gratitude. She said she has worked in various capacities over the years that allowed her to worked with opposing sides, and she was able to work hand-in-hand with both to achieve good outcomes.

Arial has worked with agencies on the state and federal level in the past as part of the Utah State Board of Education, a Utah State legislature lobbyist, vice president of government relations for Energy Solutions, a Southern Utah congressional field office manager, and public information officer for the Bureau of Land Management-Arizona Strip, among other positions over the years.

She has also been involved in the arts, having taught modern dance at Dixie State University and being a past member of the Utah Arts Council dance panel and Utah Humanities Council.

The city gets a new councilwoman

The council voted twice. In the first round, Jimmie Hughes, Gil Almguist and Michele Randall voted for Arial. Joe Bowcutt voted for applicant Diane Adams. Pike called for a second round of votes, in which the votes for Arial were unanimous.

Bette Arial (left-center) being welcomed to the St. George City Council by Councilman Gil Almquist (center-right), St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Bette Arial (left-center) being welcomed to the St. George City Council by Councilman Gil Almquist (center-right), St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Arial said she hoped to be the one chosen, but didn’t expect it. She said she was up against 23 other people who were just as qualified.

“Sometimes you do things when you are not fully prepared,” she said.

She said she aims to represent the people of St. George as a whole, and not particular facets of the population. “I don’t think it’s a special interest kind of thing.”

Moving forward, Arial said she would like to promote the arts in the city, continuing where former Councilwoman Gail Bunker left off. As well, she said she will likely focus on homeless issues in the city, specifically in relation to finding a good location for a future homeless shelter.

“She’s a very good choice,” Pike said. “She has an excellent resumé and excellent service. I’m convinced she’ll hit the ground running.”

Overall, though, he said, “We had a lot of very good applicants today.”

Hughes also said he was impressed by Arial’s qualifications, noting her experience in the arts and overall. He also said her work on the state and federal level were among the reasons he voted for Arial. “Her qualifications are tremendous.”

“She has experience,” Almquist said, adding: “She is a genuine person, open minded.”

Like Hughes, he mentioned Arial’s familiarity with state and federal agencies and her ability to work with them in the past. Many of the things the city does have to meet state and federal codes, so having a person on board who can help with those matters will be a benefit for the city and its residents, he said.

Arial also has the same vision for the city as its new mayor, Almquist said.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

Bette Arial, appointee to Mayor Jon Pike's vacated St. George City Council seat, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Bette Arial, appointee to Mayor Jon Pike’s vacated St. George City Council seat, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

 

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28 Comments

  • D Hodja January 23, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Congrats. But, unfortunately this is another lost opportunity to put some diversity and non-like-minded-church thinking on the council. Again Congrats to Better however and I’m sure she will vote the way the council needs her to.

  • Craig January 24, 2014 at 6:02 am

    “…has been active for the past two years with the conservative Sutherland Institute think tank …”
    http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20140123/NEWS01/301230048/Bette-Arial-appointed-St-George-City-Council

    No diversity to upset the handcart. Just another surrogate who will follow her marching orders.
    The choice should have been between Dunn and Baca since they were the 3rd and 4th place finishers in the elections. I’d give it to Baca since he has attended more meetings than anyone on the present council and probably understands the inner workings better than anyone in City Hall.

    • Gunther January 24, 2014 at 8:01 am

      Enough with the 3rd and 4th place rhetoric. The election in Nov. was for 2 positions. If 3rd place was 5 votes behind or 5,000 votes behind it just doesn’t matter anymore. Those election results have been approved, signed, sealed, and recorded as a past event. On Jan 6th at noon, a council seat was vacant due to Mayor Pike resigning. At that point, steps were taken to fill the vacant seat. The Nov election is history and means nothing to this process.
      And further more, Tara had 3 minutes to wow the council and earn a spot on the council. Apparently there was little or no preparation for that speech. Her negative remarks probably earned a last place finish.

      • Craig January 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm

        Gayle, is that you?

      • Happy Happy Happy January 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm

        Amen! I am so sick of hearing Dunn and Baca deserve the seat because they received the votes. THEY LOST PEOPLE! The people clearly have spoken in the last election. Had this third seat been up for election we would have had 6 candidates to chose from. Chances are Dunn and Baca still would have lost. It’s time to get over it and move on!

  • A Guy January 24, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Four Mormons voted for a fellow Mormon. Is anyone surprised?

  • DoubleTap January 24, 2014 at 10:22 am

    About the same as if they had selected Dan McArthur to fill Pike’s vacant seat.

    • Huh? January 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Or Arthur McDaniel’s kid filling the vacant spot. How did he get his current city job position?

  • Neil January 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Think tanks are one of the key elements to a corrupt government; a select group of elites getting together in private and colluding to find new ways to screw the public and produce gains for themselves and then lobbying politicians to implement their “solutions.” And now we have one of them on our own city counsel. Great.

    • Boots January 25, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Just like the appointees on the water conservancy board gives the impression of that being corrupt.

  • joe January 24, 2014 at 11:06 am

    i think tara should have gotten picked, she would have brang great things to the councial, but the councial leaders are so close minded, she had the majorty of the votes in the election, if i were them, i would have chosen her, but this city does not like things out of place

    • Huh? January 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      You mean, the church does not like anything out of place. The council is made up of mormons doing mormon work for the mormon church.

    • Betty January 25, 2014 at 6:50 am

      Tara would bring nothing but drama. She cannot even listen to the advice of her own spouse, how would she ever listen to what the common voter wants? She seeks her own agenda and seems to love the spotlight. Give that woman a big spoon and a large pot. Pot stirrer! BTW, I’m not LDS and I’m not even a John Pike fan.

  • My Evil Twin January 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    No matter who they picked, there would have been a bunch of whining, unhappy people. Live with it until election time rolls around. Then, if you can make your voices heard in a positive way, prior to the election, people might just listen to what you have to say. But the pointless snivel and whine session has gotten real old.

    • Ken January 25, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      I like when people like you whine that people express their 1st amendment rights! If you can’t handle people speaking their minds then move to a different country! Want some cheese for your whine?

  • Dana January 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    It is any surprise to anyone that it’s only Catholics that elect a Pope? The reason for that is because that is the dynamic. Right now on the city council, we happen to have a majority of LDS members who voted for Bette last night.
    On four occasions the majority of voters have not made Ms Dunn their first or second choice. The voters have spoken!

    • Huh? January 24, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      The voters have spoken? Huh? I don’t recall seeing Bette Arial’s name on the ballot, neither as a candidate nor as a write-in. I do remember the Tara Dunn and Ed Baca receiving the next highest number of votes. This selection is a sham, a farce. It has nothing to do with representation of the people. This is a selection of someone who will cast her votes based on what she is told to do by the others who selected her. What a joke!

      • Happy Happy Happy January 24, 2014 at 9:09 pm

        THIS WAS NOT AN ELECTION! THEY LOST NOW GET OVER IT!

        • Boots January 25, 2014 at 8:58 am

          You are right. It’s not an election. It’s about mormon religion control. Otherwise, they would have selected someone who represented what the voters wanted.

        • Ken January 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm

          Another election should have been held, people are and should be elected by the people considering it is the people they serve. An appointment is a complete and utter joke. But since that’s the way the church does it in Utah so be it!

          • Happy Happy Happy January 26, 2014 at 7:33 am

            THEN MOVE! Sorry but state law is state law. If you don’t like it you have three options. 1) MOVE 2) Petition your state legislator 3) run yourself. In the mean time let the pity party continue.

        • Ken January 26, 2014 at 8:24 am

          Happy I have lived in St George since 74 and I ain’t moving anywhere! I see that you haven’t managed to mature past grade school level with your immature comment “then move”. It seems your issues are deep, get help! I will let you have the last comment because I know that’s the attention you crave so badly!

          • Happy Happy Happy January 26, 2014 at 5:01 pm

            My immature comments stems from your deep rooted problem with the Mormon church. Last I checked Morons were the majority in Utah and have been here long before 74. Yes my advise, not an immature comment, to you if you do not like the Mormon ran state is move.

  • Randy West January 25, 2014 at 12:08 am

    It would take a little research, but maybe it would be worth finding out if other cities appoint the leftovers from the latest or not in cases like this, figure out how common or uncommon it is. People who are unhappy with the council’s choice can call the council members and ask why they voted the way they did. Their numbers and emails are on the city website. Actually speaking to the city politicians, what a novel idea. It may prove more effective than all the unhappy internet posts.

    • Ken January 25, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Getting a straight honest answer wouldn’t happen! Better off playing the lottery and if you don’t like people posting on the internet, why do you read it?

  • Servant January 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Suspect she will serve the council well, not the people of the city, but the other council members who were ELECTED to their positions. She probably was selected (not elected) because she will serve them and like a good mormon woman, do what the superior men tell her.

  • Boots January 25, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Bootlicker

  • William Way January 25, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Interesting story. Pictures of the village trouble-maker giving her speech, but no pictures of the other candidate that a councilman actually voted for, who just happens to be non-LDS. More yellow-journalism.

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