This is what St. George council candidates said and why when given a pledge challenge; 2 say yes, 4 say no

St. George City Council candidates from L-R: Marc Stallings, Bryan Thiriot, Greg Aldred, Gregg McArthur, challengers; Michele Randall, Joe Bowcutt, incumbents. The candidates had an opportunity to share their opinions on various topics Wednesday night during a meet and greet sponsored by the Dixie Republican Forum, St. George, Utah, Aug. 9, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Taxes, water and growth were the primary issues on the minds of voters during a “Meet the Candidates” night Wednesday when St. George City Council candidates had a chance to speak directly to the electorate … and face a challenge by the forum chair to sign a pledge on how they would govern if elected.

The event, held at the Washington County Commission Chambers was sponsored by the Dixie Republican Forum. It drew about 100 people interested in learning about the six candidates running for office: Michele Randall and Joe Bowcutt, incumbents; Gregg McArthur, Bryan Thiriot and Marc Stallings, challengers.

At the beginning of the meet-and-greet, Forum Chair Larry Meyers asked each of the candidates to sign a pledge agreeing to support city ordinances or resolutions that support the following goals: defend second amendment rights; cut spending and reduce taxes; reduce and eliminate unconstitutional federal funding of municipal projects and programs; and enforce city business licensing requirements against local businesses that hire people living in the country illegally.

The City Council election is nonpartisan and Meyers said the proposed pledge does not represent any political party. It does, however, represent values championed by conservatives such as those belonging to the Dixie Republican Forum. The founder of the Dixie Republican Forum later told St. George News he puts a great deal of weight on who to vote for according to which candidates were willing to sign the pledge.

“I think it’s important we get their agreement to these principles in writing,” Meyers said, “that way they can be held to it.”

Several of the candidates refused to sign the pledge including Bowcutt and Randall, incumbents, and  McArthur and Thiriot. They all said they support the same principles outlined in the document but for different reasons and did not feel it appropriate to sign the pledge.

Randall specifically called out the section on “reducing and eliminating unconstitutional federal funding of municipal projects and programs,” arguing that without federal monies the city would not have Switchpoint, a shelter for St. George area homeless.

Bowcutt said that without federal funds the council would be strapped to fulfill state mandates.

“I know sometimes those things cause us to be beholden to the federal government,” Bowcutt said, “but I think sometimes without those grants or without some of that money, we’re pretty stressed to meet all the requirements we have from the state.”

Stallings and Aldred both said they adamantly support the document and its principals and were more than willing to sign their names.

“I agree with all this. I signed it about five minutes ago,” Aldred said. “I’ve been a concealed carrier for many years. I love that right, I hope all of you are packing ‘cuz you guys are the good guys, I want you to defend me …. Thank you for this Larry and thank you for letting me give my two cents on this.”

Meyers asked the candidates several questions he had prepared in advance as well as questions gathered from the audience throughout the evening.

On many of the issues candidates’ opinions varied only a little while others involving topics such as the Lake Powell Pipeline drew out strong opposing responses.

Stallings expressed his steadfast opposition to the pipeline arguing instead for conservation.

“Talk about conservation. Talk about these alternative resources,” Stallings said. “In the very very end it may be the best solution but right now I am not on board. We should talk about conservation first and foremost.”

Randall, however, didn’t pause when asked if she supported the project, immediately voicing her support.

“I do support the pipeline,” Randall said. “We need the water. We can conserve but we cannot grow any further past about 160,000 if we don’t have a new source of water.”

McArthur agreed with both of the candidates, stating he is in support of the project but also believes in conservation.

“I am in favor of the Lake Powell Pipeline,” McArthur said. “I hope we can get the state of Utah to help us with that and the costs. I think having a good reliable second water source is a very good thing. I agree with Marc (Stallings) I think conservation is very important. I think that’s something we need to look into.”

The subsidized remodeling of the Dixie Sunbowl paid for with recreation, arts and parks, or RAP, tax revenue was another issue that garnered varying responses.

While Stallings said he supported the renovation of the Sunbowl when he ran for City Council two years ago, he does not support it this time around.

“I’m not for raising taxes to spend over seven digits,” Stallings said. “I love tradition. I love the Dixie spirit and the Sunbowl is near and dear to a lot of our residents’ hearts but I’m not going to raise taxes to renovate that Sunbowl.”

While some of the issues drew out controversy and much discussion, the candidates all remained civil and respectful to one another’s differing opinions.

In closing, each of the candidates had an opportunity to tell voters why they were the best one for the job.

CORRECTION: We inadvertently  reported Thiriot signed the pledge and Stallings had not when in fact, it was reversed – Stallings did sign the pledge and Thiriot did not. The correction was changed at 9:45 a.m. to reflect the correct information.

Read more: Council candidates speak on Vision Dixie, Northern Corridor, water

St. George City Council Candidates featured in this photo will participate in a “Meet the Candidates Night,” Top row L-R Greg Aldred, Bryan Thiriot, Gregg McArthur. Bottom row L-R Joe Bowcutt, Michele Randall, Marc Stallings, location and date not specified | Photos courtesy of St. George City Council Candidates, St. George News

Voting and election process

The top four candidates who receive the most votes in the Aug. 15 primary will move on to the general election.

Read more: VOTE: Guide for early primary voting

Early voting is underway with voters in some municipalities heading to the polls and others sending in mail-in ballots.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • thejoshw August 10, 2017 at 8:24 am

    This is what’s wrong with St. George… “you can be elected, as long as you agreee to never change anything.”

  • mmsandie August 10, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Wish I could have made the meeting I had to be out of town.. Can,t see why more didn,t sign the papers.. Most politicians saY one hing and do another after they are elected..sounds familiar in Washington dc now.
    Saving water andd limiting residents and building is important to the rest of us who have been here over 20 and more..but companies should not be hiring illegals, when others can work. After many landscaping companies we finally got legals and English speaking residents, do a great job..
    I also hope there will be a term limit someday so there can voice their thoughts and serve the people here

  • Walter1 August 10, 2017 at 10:41 am

    The pipeline is another attempt to scam the Utah taxpayer that will drive water prices up and only serve the build, build, build obsession of Southern Utah’s good old boy governing monarchy. Look at the Southern Parkway for an example. With a construction cost of 500 million dollars and more costs to come the Parkway transits an average of less then four cars at any point per minute. That’s five hundred million dollars . One half a billion. How many neighborhood roads and trails could have been improved with that sum. As usual Utah citizens will follow their leaders like sheep to the tax slaughter. A better solution is to build another reservoir similar to Sand Hollow and save more of the water that flows down the Virgin River and out of the area everyday. What ever happened to common sense?

  • desertgirl August 10, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I’ll not for for any of the above supporting the pipeline. This area is far too confined by topography for growth numbers anywhere near 200,00, as is predicted. Restricting growth only makes sense. If people want to live in congestion like Vegas, Cali, or NYC, by all means move to that area. If you aren’t fortunate enough to get here before we top out growth you will have to look else where; that’s life. No point in destroying an area of the country just because others do.

  • just saying August 10, 2017 at 11:29 am

    They are all a bunch of phonies! Never think about the tax payers, just want to ignore us and take all the money from us then can.

  • Not_So_Much August 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    The only two candidates to consider signed the pledge STALLINGS and ALLRED. While far from ‘perfect’ the other 4 are grow, grow, grow. Of course this area will grow but there will be limits due to the nature of this area. Do you really want a $2 BILLION (or more) water pipeline from Lake Powell that YOU will pay for? Please do everyone a favor, if you don’t know where the candidates stand then don’t vote for someone for some other reason. St George is and will change and now is the time to be smart about what our future will look like. I doubt the other four running for office can or will take us in the right direction.

  • Bender August 10, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Smells like a Trumpian loyalty oath. Swear fealty to Larry Meyers or you ain’t pure enough.

  • comments August 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Without fierce opposition from taxpayers the pipe is going to be built, and it’ll likely be built even if we vote it down. I have a feeling any city counsel and potential city council member can be bought at bargain-basement prices. And this “pledge” is just more loony r-wing nuttery. If they don’t get the feds or at the very least the state to pay for the bulk of this big pipeline we are in trouble. We may end up with some of the highest taxes and fees of any county in the entire US. Around here are the worst tax-and-spend republicans that I’ve ever encountered. They love to spend other people’s money, and for the most ridiculous and unneeded things. Worse than any liberals.

  • JJ August 10, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    “We can conserve but we cannot grow any further past about 160,000 if we don’t have a new source of water.”

    YES!! That’s what I want!

  • utahdiablo August 11, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Don’t forget about that stupid water park to use 150,000 gallons of fresh drinking water eachday and add even more congestion to exit 13 at Green springs…

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