St. George moves to fill vacant City Council seat

ST. GEORGE — The recent death of Councilman Joe Bowcutt left a vacancy on the St. George City Council that the city is now looking to fill for the remainder of the term.

Joe Bowcutt speaks in St. George, Utah, Oct. 18, 2017 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Earlier this month, the city of St. George issued a public notice calling for residents to apply to fill the council vacancy. The application period started Sept. 9 and concludes this Friday at 5 p.m. Members of the City Council will then take a week to review the applications in preparation for a meeting Sept. 30 in which the applications will be publicly interviewed.

“We’re looking for the person who best fits the needs of Joe Bowcutt’s seat,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.

Bowcutt died Aug. 31 and had two years left in his current term on the City Council.

The last time the city had to replace a council member was in January 2014 when Pike became the mayor and vacated his former council seat.

At the time, 24 people met the requirements to apply for the seat and were interviewed by the City Council in a special public meeting. By the end of the meeting, Bette Arial was appointed to fill the seat. She later ran for the seat and was elected to the position. Arial is currently serving a second term on the council.

St. George City as seen from the Dixie Rock/Sugarloaf formation at Pioneer Park, St. George, Utah, July 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Applicants for the vacant seat have been instructed to submit a resume, along with a single-page letter detailing why they are interested in serving on the council, as well as any prior public and community service.

“The council is going to look at the applications individually the week before the public meeting,” Pike said.

While the council members will be able to review the applications privately, they will do so on their own and not as a body, Pike said. The first time they’ll have the opportunity to discuss applicants as a council will be during the Sept. 30 meeting.

When choosing Pike’s replacement in 2014, the council allotted the applicants a few minutes to speak in response to a single question: Why should the council pick you?

Whether or not the council chooses to repeat this process, Pike said council members will be looking for “the best all-around person to finish out the term.”

From her perspective, Arial said going before the City Council “was a harrowing experience,” as she had expected to be interviewed by them alone and not in front of the 23 other applicants, their families and the public.

In this 2014 file photo, Bette Arial speaks to the St. George City Council about why she should be appointed to fill Mayor Jon Pike’s vacated council seat, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

If there’s any advice she can impart to those who have applied and may yet apply, Arial said it is to make sure they are “very” prepared to speak to the City Council during the few minutes they will have for interviews.

“Make sure you are prepared with facts and show why you are really qualified,” she said. “Some people thought they could just talk, and that didn’t go so well.”

Touching on what the council members will be considering, Arial said they want to see someone who loves the people and city as much as they do.

Pike said he hopes to see people who are not single-issue applicants, but well-rounded in their desire to serve on the council.

As for this year’s municipal election involving three open council seats, the mayor said he believes that should be viewed as a separate matter entirely and not be tied to the pending council appointment.

As of Wednesday afternoon, eight people have applied for the vacant council seat, City Recorder Christina Fernandez told St. George News.

The process by which the city fills a vacancy on the council is outlined under state law and gives the city 30 days to fill the position.

Anyone considering a last-minute application for the vacant City Council seat has until Friday at 5 p.m. to do the following:

  • Submit an application along with a resume and brief one-page written statement explaining why you are interested in serving on the council and any prior involvement in the city or community organizations or activities to Christina Fernandez at the St. George City Office, 175 E. 200 North.

Qualifications to be considered to serve on the council are as follows:

  • Be a citizen of the United States.
  • Be a registered voter in St. George.
  • Be a resident of St. George or a resident of a recently annexed area of St. George for the previous 12 months.
  • Not have been convicted of a felony.

The City Council will meet at the St. George City Office Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. to interview and vote on the applicants.

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

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