CEDAR CITY — With the November election right around the corner, the candidates for Cedar City Council have been busy campaigning and sharing their message with the voters.
There are four candidates — Ron Adams, Rich Gillette, Bruce Hughes, Scott Phillips — but only two City Council seats up for grabs.
Cedar City News reached out to each candidate to give them a chance to talk about themselves and where they stand on some of the issues facing the community.
Meet the candidates (in alphabetical order)
Adams is the lone incumbent in the council race. He is running for his third term after first taking office in 2009 and then winning reelection in 2013.
A long-time resident of Iron County, Adams has called Cedar City home for more than 50 years. Of those, 39 of been spent with his wife Michal. The couple have four children and 11 grandchildren.
Adams has been active in the community serving on several boards and committees. Those include the Cedar City Rotary Club, Education Committee for the Iron County Home Builders Association, Rap Tax Committee for Parks and Recreation, Cedar Transportation Committee, Downtown Parking Authority and the Economic Development Board.
He is chairman of the Rural Development Administration and the Municipal Building Authority.
Adams said he is committed to serving the community and believes his record as a city councilman for the last eight years speaks for itself.
An employee of Great Western Realty, Adams previously served as the president of the Iron County Board of Realtors and a member of the Cedar City Board of Adjustments for six years.
Adams worked for 14 years at American Pacific Corporation as a chemical lab technician prior to securing his real estate broker’s license.
Gillette moved to Cedar City from Tooele 32 years ago to attend Southern Utah University from Tooele 32 years ago and remained in the area.
Gillette said he and his four daughters all love Cedar City and would like a chance to serve the community. He said believes he has the experience and the dedication to do the job.
During his time in the area, Gillette has worked in the real estate business for about 25 years.
He has also been involved in the community as an event coordinator for the Utah Summer Games for more than 15 years. He previously sat on the Cedar City planning commission from 2012 to 2017 and another five years on the a Adjustments. He was released from the planning commission in July. In addition, Gillette is a member of the Cedar City Lions Club.
Time-tested experience, financial expertise and involved in the community — the qualities Hughes said he believes he would bring to the City Council.
The list, posted on his campaign Facebook page, is followed with another detailing the multiple volunteer positions he’s held in the last 20 years as a Cedar City resident.
They include: board member of the Cedar City Hospital, Southern Utah University Audit Committee, Southwest Tech Foundation, Iron County Angel Fund, Scenic Byway 12 Foundation, Utah Association of Realtors Housing Opportunity Fund, Boy Scouts of America Cedar District Activities Committee. He served as chairman of the Cedar City Hospital Foundation.
Hughes is a founding board member for People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners.
As a professional accountant, Hughes also served as treasurer for various organizations including the Iron County Board of Realtors, Cedar City Music Arts, Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival, Friends of Iron County Police K-9s and Cedar City Trap Club.
Other activities include volunteering at the Utah Summer Games.
“Cedar City is an amazing community that has much to offer and is blessed with hardworking, generous citizens,” Hughes said. “Like any small town, we must be vibrant and diligent in order to survive and offer a prosperous future for our children. I am fully committed to help make that happen.”
Anyone who has lived in Cedar City for more than five years associates Phillips with the Shakespearean Festival. After 42 years of working closely with Southern Utah University to help build the organization into a national theatre company, Phillips recently stepped down as the executive director for the festival. Before that, he spent a decade as the CEO.
In addition to his festival duties, Phillips served on multiple boards and as the president for both the Shakespeare Theatre Association and the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association. He is a charter member of the Southwest Arts Network. Phillips also served as a theatre panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C., and is a member of the National Theatre Conference and the Theatre Communications Group.
Retirement from the Shakespearean Festival hasn’t slowed Phillips down, though, he is involved in various groups and organizations. Locally, he serves as a member of the Friends of Cedar City Animal Shelter and is working to complete a fundraising campaign for the construction of a new animal shelter.
The list of accomplishments and prestigious awards and honors behind Phillips’ name is extensive and by itself could tell a story.
Phillips points to these achievements to illustrate his commitment and motivation when he is passionate about something and believes he will take these qualities wherever he goes.
“I care about Cedar City and I chose to make it my home for over four decades,” Phillips said. “I am committed to this community and dedicated to its progress.”
Discuss what you think is the number one issue facing Cedar City
Water, homelessness, local businesses and prairie dogs were all key issues named by the candidates as ones that Cedar City continues to face.
Adams said one of the biggest issues facing Cedar City is homelessness.
“It’s surprising how big of a problem we have in the city with homelessness but it is an issue a lot of people don’t know about,” Adams said. “I think if you ask most people they’ll tell you we don’t have a homeless issue.”
As chairman of the Iron County Home Committee, Adams is working to address this issue by finding affordable housing for families and individuals. Among those are people who have just been released from jail with nowhere to go.
Gillette identified water is the key issue facing Cedar City today adding that, if elected, he would support the work of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District.
“I think the City Council and the water conservancy district are already doing a good job of dealing with this issue so I would continue to support those efforts,” Gillette said.
While having served in many capacities in the community, Hughes specifically focused on his role in dealing with the issues of prairie dogs. A founding member of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Prairie Dogs, Hughes said the group “finally brought common sense to the prairie dog problem in Iron County after 42 years.”
“That’s something I was personally involved with,” Hughes said.
Phillips is passionate about the downtown area and creating a “strong city center.”
Having worked for years on SUU campus located near the downtown area, Phillips said he believes the city has a “strong, thriving downtown will benefit the entire community.”
“We have a proud heritage in our community and we need to continue to embrace that past while looking toward the future,” Phillips said.
If elected, Phillips said he would like to help support this area, making it a “gathering place” for the community.
While Cedar City is beginning to enjoy commercial and residential growth really for the first time since the downturn of the economy in 2011, some locally-owned businesses continue to struggle.
Cedar City News asked the candidates what they believed the City Council could do to support the local businesses to succeed in a community where more big box retailers and popular franchises are moving in.
Adams pointed to his role as chairman of the redevelopment agency as an example of how he has helped keep a thriving downtown area in Cedar City. The incumbent voiced strong support for local business but didn’t offer any specifics about accomplishments in his current position.
Adams, along with two of his fellow council members, recently came under fire from the public for their vote to award a contract to a Salt Lake City-based business over a local company that had been providing computer service to the city for several years. The new contract also took an additional $20,000 out of city coffers.
At the time, the residents expressed their opposition to the vote, arguing the city’s decision would force the local business to close down.
During the interview with Cedar City News, Adams repeated his reasons for awarding the bid to another company including the Salt Lake City organization. He also said the company has since hired local residents to fulfill the city contract, adding that the city employees are satisfied with the level of service now being provided.
“I think we made the right decision,” Adams said.
Second to water, Gillette said he believes making sure the council supports local businesses is the next important issue.
“We need to make sure local businesses, future businesses are all doing well,” Gillette said.
To that end, the candidate said he doesn’t believe there is a lot city government can do for businesses except to possibly provide incentives and more opportunities for them to succeed.
As a certified public accountant with more than 700 clients Hughes said he has a finger on the pulse in Cedar City regarding small businesses.
Hughes said he believes the city sets the tone for small businesses and in many cases he said it’s been negative. He would like to turn that around by treating locally-owned businesses the same way as the big corporations moving in town are treated.
“The Tour of Utah, they thought we were incredible because we treat them wonderful,” Hughes said. “Small business people need to think we’re wonderful too. So if there is anyway they can stay in town they know we will help them make that happen.”
As the number-one issue Phillips is running on, supporting local businesses that are largely located in the downtown area is something the candidate said he fully believes in.
“I believe if we lose our downtown area where many of the local businesses are we lose our core,” Phillips said.
If elected, Phillips said he would like to help the businesses be successful and has several ideas for making that happen, including bringing a variety of establishments into the downtown area.
He would also like the city to help find a way to connect the downtown area with the university that is just two blocks away.
“We have to change the way we think,” Phillips said. “We are a university town so we have to embrace that and think about what kind of businesses do we need to have to cater to that clientele.”
With the loss of water rights threatened and Iron County under a groundwater management plan candidates were asked, if elected, what they believed they could do to resolve the water issues facing the area.
Adams said he would continue to support the efforts of his fellow Councilman Paul Cozzens who, as a member of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, has helped make great strides in securing new water sources and building additional recharge projects to help the aquifer replenish itself.
“I think we (City Council) need to get behind him (Cozzens) and support him,” Adams said.
In addition, Adams said the council is working to purchase as many water rights as possible to ensure the city has enough water for the future.
As the issue that Gillette said he believes is the most important, he said he would be willing to spend more money on efforts to find and bring additional water into the valley and build more recharge projects.
Gillette again stated his support of the conservancy district and the council’s current activities regarding this issue.
Hughes does not believe that the answer to water issues is penalizing residents for watering their lawn in the middle of the day. The issue is bigger than that, he said, and includes the city working with the agricultural industry, the largest water user, to find innovative ways for them to conserve water.
He pointed to other places in the world where they have learned how to increase agricultural yield while using less water.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if Cedar City were the innovators on finding ways to help agriculture to use less water but increase yields at the same time?” Hughes said. “It’s being done already but it takes money. So all we have to do is look at how other people are doing it and then provide incentives for farmers to do it here.”
Phillips addressed the issue of the community drawing down more water from the aquifer than it is recharging. Like his opponent, Phillips said he feels strongly that the city must help farmers figure out how to conserve water.
“Water is a big issue,” Phillips said. “We can’t grow without it.”
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