PARAGONAH — Lying on the northeastern section of Iron County, Paragonah Town enters the upcoming election cycle with two open seats on the Town Council and four candidates to choose from; some with the goal of keeping the area’s small town feel, and others with the drive to ensure existing public safety elements are kept intact.
Two of the four candidates vying for the open spots are incumbents; and the candidates come with a variety of different experiences and backgrounds.
A 34-year resident of Southern Utah — with all but five years spent living in Paragonah — incumbent Marge Cipkar said what really attracts her to the area, and what keeps her living there, is the small town and community vibe.
“It’s just a small, quiet and super little town,” Cipkar said.
With Paragonah being a smaller community of about 500 people, Cipkar said, the area doesn’t really have many of the issues that face larger towns or cities in Southern Utah — something that she said many town residents enjoy.
“We like it small with our bigger lots,” Cipkar said, “it just helps keep it homey.”
Should she not be chosen for a seat during the upcoming elections, Cipkar said she would try to continue her involvement in the community and the decisions made in it by frequently attending Town Council meetings and speaking up when need be.
Having already served two terms on the council previously, Cipkar said the majority of the community is already familiar with her serving them. What continues to drive her, she said, is her view that if you can see a problem, you should try and help fix it.
“You can’t complain if you’re not willing to get in there and help,” Cipkar said. “That’s always my answer. I figure I can’t complain if I’m not going to do anything about it.”
Council candidate Nancy Dalton is no stranger to the community and issues of Paragonah, having lived in the area for 35 years.
Being a small business owner and having previously served on the town board are both things that make her a viable candidate for one of the two open seats on the council — as well as her involvement as a board member on the Utah Scenic Byway Committee for the last six years.
“In rural Utah, we deal with more than just businesses,” Dalton said, “we deal with community infrastructure and needs.”
If elected, Dalton said one of the first things she would do would be to begin working closely with other council members and the three members of the Iron County Commission to try and find a middle ground regarding some recent discussions.
The county is seeking some form of compensation, Dalton said, because Paragonah uses the Iron County Sheriff’s Office as its main form of law enforcement since the small town does not have a police department dedicated to their specific area.
“I’d like to begin work on that (and) find a fair and equitable solution to those issues,” Dalton said.
The end goal, Dalton said, is to have a win-win situation where both Paragonah and the county come away happy.
If she is not elected, however, Dalton said she would not only attend council and commission meetings but that she would also provide her own input and suggestions on issues.
Having grown up and attended school in the Cedar City and Paragonah areas, Michael Abbott said one of the things drives him to serve is his desire to see the community he loves continue to thrive.
“I’d been contemplating it for a little while,” Michael Abbott said. “I think with the openings there I’ll be able to help keep the locals involved … with what is going on.”
Michael Abbott currently works in maintenance and construction for Utah State Parks and is also heavily involved in volunteer firefighting; he is currently serving as a captain in the Paragonah Fire Department and has been working with them over the last 15 years.
Should he gain one of the two open positions on the council, Michael Abbott said he would work to ensure the council keeps up with preventative maintenance and current existing issues before starting new projects.
“Take care of what we got first before we add to it,” Michael Abbott said. “Of course there is growth, but I think your infrastructure is the main thing that runs your town.”
Even if he is not elected, Michael Abbott said there are still things he and others can do to get involved, even if they are just a part of the community, whether that be working as a volunteer firefighter, attending meetings or just being available to help neighbors out in situations like power outages.
Michael Abbott also is running in the council race against his cousin, Daniel Abbott, who has been serving on the council since early 2015.
Having served as a fill-in on the Paragonah Town Council since June — following the departure of former-councilman Brady Abbott — incumbent Daniel Abbott looks to continue his service on the council by cinching onto one of the two open spots in November’s elections.
Daniel Abbott was born in Cedar City but then moved to Sandy shortly after. He returned to Cedar City when he was 21, he said, to be with family.
Like his cousin Michael Abbott, Daniel Abbott has a history of serving the public through work as an emergency responder, something he said has helped push him into pursuing a council seat.
“Running in public safety really opened my eyes to public needs and helping others,” he said. “That’s what I enjoy.”
In 2007, Daniel Abbot secured a job working for the Iron County Ambulance Service part time until 2012 when he moved back to Northern Utah to attend school at Utah Valley University.
After finishing the program, he returned to his job at the ambulance, as well as another job at the Intermountain Healthcare in Cedar City. When the ambulance service was sold to Gold Cross Ambulance in March, Daniel Abbot switched to a part-time position.
In January, he was also voted into a captain position as a volunteer firefighter on the Paragonah Fire Department.
Should he be chosen to continue his service on the council in November, Daniel Abbott said he does not necessarily have a set agenda of things he wants to tackle, but there are some areas he does want to continue looking into, such as the recent changes to the ambulance service and discussion with county commissioners over law enforcement.
“Not really any big changes,” he said. “I just want to make sure we keep our community safe and work to make sure we have that service provided for them…”
Daniell Abbott also said he wants to help ensure that growth in the area is kept under control and that it is something quite important to those who live in Paragonah.
Should his hopes to land a seat on the council in November not bear fruit, he said he will still do everything he can to serve the community he loves by continuing to work in the public safety sector and by attending council and committee meetings. He said he also wouldn’t mind serving on a committee if he had the opportunity.
Municipal elections begin Nov. 3, and members of the public are encouraged to turn out, get involved and cast their vote. A full list of those running in Southern Utah municipal elections can be found here.
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