ST. GEORGE — Serving the residents of St. George is a common theme among the candidates running for City Council this election cycle. Three council seats are up for grabs this year, with two incumbents — Bette Arial and Jimmie Hughes — seeking re-election against challengers Ed Baca, Craig Hammer, Gregg McArthur and Bryan Thiriot.
St. George News caught up with the candidates and asked: If they could only achieve one goal while serving in office, what would it be and how would they go about achieving that goal if not elected?
We also asked the candidates to share something about themselves that others may not otherwise know about them.
The general election is Nov. 3.
Bette Arial – Incumbent
Arial said she didn’t have a primary goal beyond serving the citizens of St. George the best she could.
“To serve… with dedication, integrity and with respect for all,” Arial said. “I have no ax to grind or agenda other than making good decisions for St George.”
If not re-elected, Arial said she will remain an active citizen and remain involved in city happenings, particularly the arts.
“I would give my whole support to those who win, and (I would) work to keep this city the great place that it is,” she said.
Arial has climbed Mount Timpanogos in northern Utah multiple times. The first time was with her father, who shared some advice that Arial said has acted as a set of guidelines for her.
He told me that there were three things to remember when we hiked, namely: we hike only as fast as the slowest hiker, we never gulp the ice cold water from the seeps but sip it slowly and we always finish the hike. These have been great guidelines to apply to life.
Baca said focusing on any single goal is shortsighted since the needs of the city and its people can readily change. Nevertheless, he said a prime goal would be devoting his time and energy to moving the city forward.
“My first and foremost, my goal would be to give of my time and energy to effectively work with others and to agree on a course of action that will always lead to doing what is in the best interest of the city,” he said.
If not elected, Baca will continue to do what he has done for over a decade — keep attending City Council meeting and acting as a public watchdog.
“I will continue my efforts to educate and inform the public of actions taken by the council,” Baca said, “and expand transparency within city government.”
“My hobby, for a lack of a better description, happens to be serving as a public watchdog and reporting to the public the workings of city government,” Baca said. “… At the age of 74, I delight in voicing my opinions and values without having to be politically correct while at the same time trying to do my part in being a good citizen.”
Keeping spending and taxes at an absolute minimum while also maintaining the quality of life people in St. George enjoy will be a primary goal for Hammer if he is elected, he said.
If he doesn’t make it, Hammer said, he will do as he has always done: “Stay actively involved and volunteer in the community.”
While people know Hammer as a council candidate and as a member of the administration for the Washington County School District, what they may not know is that he once played basketball for the University of Utah.
Jimmie Hughes — Incumbent
“If I were to have only one goal to accomplish as a city councilman, it would be to serve the people of St. George,” Hughes, who seeks re-election, said. “That is ultimately the duty of the City Council. We are elected to serve, to be there each week to make decisions that will best reflect the will of the people … I plan to continue as I have done in the past and seek out and listen to input from the public as we go forward.”
There are many ways a person can be involved without being on the City Council, Hughes said. There have been many issues in the city that have been solved, he said, not by the City Council but by concerned citizens and groups.
“You do not have to be elected to make a difference,” Hughes said.
Hughes is involved in a wide array of activities, he said, and is as comfortable in a business suit as he is in boots and a cowboy hat. Professionally, Hughes is a mortician. He said:
“Sometimes I surprise people when they learn that I raise cattle and want to be a farmer when I grow up.”
“My main goal is to represent the citizens of St George well and to make sure the decisions that are made best serve to keep our community the amazing place to work, live and play it is today,” McArthur said.
If the election does not favor McArthur, he said he would continue to look for opportunities to stay involved and give input to city government.
“A little thing many people might not know about me is that one of my favorite activities is canyoneering,” McArthur said. “I have been through the majority of slot canyons in Zion National Park and many others throughout Utah. The amazing scenery and natural wonders that surround us is one of the many reasons I love it so much here.”
“I would make sure St. George City is represented locally and at the state and federal levels,” Thiriot said. “I would like to see an economic analysis … to identify the economic strengths of St. George City. I want to make sure that St. George City has a functional infrastructure as the population is projected to double by 2050.”
If not elected, Thiriot said, he would continue to have an active presence on the personal and professional level, which he would use to help St. George continue to be successful.
“I am the oldest of six boys and I was born and raised in St. George City,” Thiriot said. “I graduated from Dixie High School and Dixie College. I wouldn’t raise my family anywhere else. We love spending time out in Goldstrike and Pine Valley in Washington County. I am a Utah Jazz and Tennessee Titans fan. I lived across the street from and am close friends with Sen. Marco Rubio.”
Resources – campaign sites
- Primary election canvas is in; future of Ridge Top Complex yet in planning
- City Council candidates talk about growth, code enforcement; see them here, STGnews Videocast
- 11 declare run for St. George City Council
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