ST. GEORGE — For years, Ed Baca has sought election to the City Council of St. George. Long known as a local government watchdog, Baca has been a regular fixture at council meetings, but always as an outsider. On Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, Baca was finally sworn in as a Councilman in a ceremony in the City Council Chambers at the City Office in downtown St. George.
“This is a great day for the family and it is a great day for myself,” Baca said. “Knowing that we received the support of the community, you can’t help but be humbled to recognize that nobody does this by themselves, there’s a lot of people that … participated in this process.”
While his family watched, Baca was sworn in, along with Councilwoman Bette Arial and Councilman Jimmie Hughes.
Baca was particularly pleased to have his newest great-granddaughter Elizabeth — all of two months old — join the rest of the family for the ceremony.
“This is her first political outing,” Baca said.
After several attempts to get elected to the City Council, Baca said he was elated to have finally accomplished that goal. As an advocate of political transparency, Baca was particularly pleased to announce that the City Council Chambers would be open to the public on a regular basis.
“Once I get my schedule outlined, I plan to be here two hours, one day a week, just to meet with the public,” Baca said. “To get any input they might have to pass on to the mayor and to the rest of the city staff.”
During his remarks after the swearing-in ceremony, Councilman Joe Bowcutt said they (the council) were fortunate to live in a city where they were proactive rather than reactive, and Baca said he agreed with the sentiment.
“I think that is a big key, to be proactive and to look forward,” Baca said. “You can do that when you have public input.”
There are some issues that do need to be resolved moving forward, Baca said. The city code enforcement lawsuit brought against the city is one item Baca said he would like to see resolved.
“It would be nice to put that to rest,” Baca said. “Mend the fences that need to be mended.”
The city of St. George, despite its challenges, is growing for a reason, Baca said.
“You can’t deny the city of St. George is one of the greatest cities in Utah,” Baca said. “We’re going to continue to grow and develop. We have so many golden opportunities here.”
There are specific challenges lying ahead, and transportation is one issue that will need to be addressed, Baca said. He said that when the economy allows, he would like to see an improvement of the bus system. Better transportation connections throughout the city — Baca gave the Mall Drive underpass as an example — are also of great importance moving forward.
Water has always been important to St. George and is another crucial issue Baca said he would like to see addressed.
“I think the water issues are always with us,” Baca said. “The city’s moving in the right direction … we’ll have to keep an eye on what will take place with the Lake Powell Pipeline proposal. It’d be nice to know if that’s going to be a feasible project for the citizens. We need to hear from the public on that as well.”
The ability to move forward and take action is part of what makes being a councilman in St. George special, Baca said.
“We have an opportunity to be proactive, and that opens the door and it really expands the vision we can have. We’re just fortunate we have such a great city staff, and of course, I believe the mayor has a direction he wants to go and I support him fully,” Baca said.
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