Ed Baca, St. George’s longtime ‘watchdog,’ officially wins council seat

Ed Baca,, St. George, Utah, date not speified | Photo courtesy of Ed Baca, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Last week’s unofficial election returns placed St. George City Council candidate Ed Baca in third place behind two re-elected incumbents. Though many congratulated him on the potential win, Baca chose to withhold any pronouncement of victory until after the votes were officially canvassed and finalized.

During a City Council meeting Thursday, Baca’s victory was assured, as the canvassed results of the Nov. 3 elections were presented to the council and unanimously approved.

Baca was sitting in a conference room where the council tends to hold its Thursday work meetings. Accompanying him was his wife, Karen Baca. Once the votes were officially canvassed, Karen Baca gave her husband a kiss while Mayor Jon Pike welcomed the longtime “watchdog” of city government to the fold.

For his part, the look on Ed Baca’s face largely remained the same – casual and ever observant.

“He makes everything so casual,” Karen Baca said following the approval of the official election results. “It’s not casual to me.”

Ed Baca has been a constant presence in City Council meetings for around 12 years and has run for City Council multiple times, as well as running for mayor once. During that time, Karen Baca said, her husband has missed a council meeting maybe a total of five times.

As for her husband’s casual demeanor, she said it came with his having served as a police officer while living in California.

“When you’re a policeman for 24 years, he doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but this is a big day for him,” Karen Baca said.

The Nov. 3 unofficial election results placed Ed Baca at 2,952 votes – 161 votes ahead of Gregg McArthur. Despite this, Ed Baca held out for the official results, as many absentee ballots remained to be counted. There was still the potential that votes could swing the election in McArthur’s favor.

Official election results put Ed Baca at 3,124 votes – 152 ahead of McArthur, who garnered 2,972 votes overall.

“It’s very, very humbling,” Ed Baca said. “… I didn’t do a whole lot this time out. The people really stood for it and they pushed me through. They literally carried me across the finish line.”

Americans support fair play and the underdog, he said – values that he believes helped carry him through the election.

“Basically, it all has to do with transparency, openness, trust and honesty,” he said.

Ed Baca has long called for transparency and accountability in government and has described himself as a watchdog in relation to city actions and policy. Now, as a councilman-elect, he said he will continue to advocate for those principles.

He said he also wants to be as accessible as possible to the public.

One of the ideas Ed Baca said he wants to put forward to the council is providing a regular forum in which residents can share their thoughts and ideas with city officials. This forum could potentially last for over an hour and be held on a more frequent basis than the few minutes of public comment afforded citizens during the first City Council meeting of each month.

Another idea includes working with Dixie State University by creating internships for students who may be pursuing political science. The interns would work with the City Council and the mayor and possibly aid with some of the heavy workload each council member carries.

Working closely with DSU would be a part of Ed Baca’s wish to engage with young people and youth in the community. He said he also wants to reach out to the city’s minorities.

These, among other ideas, have been on his mind for years, he said. Now that he is on the City Council, he has an opportunity to better share those ideas and potentially implement them should the council be agreeable.

“The mayor has been very open and inviting, and I just see nothing but positive things occurring,” he said.

Ed Baca will be filling the council seat left open by outgoing Councilman Gil Almquist, who chose not to seek re-election. Coming out ahead of Ed Baca in the election were incumbents Bette Arial and Jimmie Hughes.

Candidate

Nov. 3 unofficial

Votes added

Official tally

Jimmie Hughes

3,783

239

4,022

Bette Arial

3,633

234

3,867

Ed Baca

2,952

172

3,124

Gregg MacArthur

2,791

181

2,972

Bryan Thiriot

2,393

173

2,566

Craig Hammer

2,338

115

2,453

St. George has 37,438 registered voters, 7,168 of whom voted. This brings voter turned to an overall 19.5 percent.

Added to the canvass totals were 326 additional absentee ballots and 116 provisional ballots – though only 103 were counted, as 13 provisional ballots were refused due to reasons related to no proof of residency, no valid identification and other factors.

How people in St. George vote overall:

Type of ballots

Number of votes

Percentage

Early voting

480

1.28

Polling location (Election Day)

4,041

10.79

Absentee

2,544

6.80

Provisional

103

0.28

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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4 Comments

  • beacon November 13, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Congratulations, Ed. You’ve worked so long and hard to get this. And…it’s certainly MUCH better than starting another MacArthur legacy! Best to you as you help to manage future growth in St. George. May your decisions be wise ones.

  • NotSoFast November 13, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Congratulations Mr. Baca. I didn’t vote for you last time, but I did this time. I sensed the community would need a Ed Baca’s voice and
    vote starting in 2016.

  • .... November 13, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Ha ha MacArthur didn’t make it !!! That’s one name I would never vote for.

  • Willie April 29, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Worked with Ed Baca at Fullerton P.D. many years ago. I just have to say that I’m glad to see he is out of California and in St. Charles UT.

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