As primaries approach, mayor speaks to unique campaigning style in Hildale

Hildale City Mayor Donia Jessop speaks at the St. George Women's March at the Vernon Worthen Park, Jan. 19, 2019 | File photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Municipal primary elections are set to take place within the next few weeks, and candidates are looking for new ways to catch potential voters’ eyes.

While most candidates have their campaign signs already posted near roadways and buildings, some are considering more elaborate means of getting the word out.

No matter what a candidate’s strategy, Hildale Mayor Donia Jessop said the most important aspect of a successful political campaign is connecting with the people they hope to represent.

“Meet with the people,” she said. “Get that one-on-one time with people.”

Candidates all around the country have been known to go door-to-door to speak with residents in the communities they are hoping to serve. Utah candidates have become especially fond of debates and listening tours, particularly for statewide races.

In this file photo, Donia Jessop is sworn in as mayor of Hildale at a ceremony held at Water Canyon High School, Hildale, Utah, Jan. 4, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Jessop, who was voted into office in the 2017 municipal election, says she is the first Hildale mayor to have campaigned for the position and was the first candidate to post campaign signs and posters around the city. The signs were helpful for people she already knew, she said, but it was the time she spent getting to know the people in her community that made all of the difference.

For Hildale, campaigning is still new, but Jessop said that doesn’t necessarily mean the strategies should be limited by tradition. The Hildale City Council has four candidates running for three seats, and three of the four candidates are incumbents running for re-election. Campaigning is already underway, but the mayor said she is surprised that she hasn’t seen a lot of activity on social media.

“I know I, personally, will be doing a lot more social media because that’s what really reaches the people and kids. That’s how we’re going to get our younger generation involved in politics and changing things the way they need changed.”

Social media has become a popular avenue for successful campaigns, petitions and movements across the world. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced his intent to run for Utah governor through a video posted to Twitter in May and has since launched social media pages called “Cox for Governor” to stay in touch with Utah residents and share pictures from various events.

Hildale, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Creating websites specifically for the campaigns has also become particularly popular for candidates from larger cities in Washington County. Websites can be used to share a candidate’s backstory and credentials, accept donations, update residents on election events and share their platform and values.

No matter the campaign, Jessop said it is important for candidates to remember why they’re running and what their purpose is, throughout the campaign and while they serve.

“Keep a clear identity. Remember why you took on this job.”

Primary elections are scheduled to take place Aug. 13, followed by general elections Nov. 5. Residents can participate in the elections by casting their vote in person or – in some cities and towns – by mail.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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