2 newcomers unseat incumbents to join St. George City Council

L-R: Winners in the election for St. George City Council -- Jimmie Hughes, Dannielle Larkin and Gregg McArthur, Oct 2, 2019 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Beginning in January, the St. George City Council will welcome two new members.

Councilman Ed Baca, right, who was defeated in the 2019 municipal election for St. George City Council, congratulates newly elected Dannielle Larkin on her win, St. George, Utah, Nov. 14, 2019 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News

The St. George City Council certified the 2019 municipal election results during today’s council meeting, making the tally official, with the top three vote-getters claiming council seats.

Incumbent Jimmie Hughes received the most votes at 7,717, with businessman Gregg McArthur receiving 7,647 and business owner Dannielle Larkin receiving 6,714 votes. The trio will join current council members Bryan Smethurst and Michele Randall in January.

Incumbents Ed Baca and Bette Arial were both unseated at 6,331 and 5,432 votes, respectively. Greg Aldred received 5,792 votes. The city announced a 36.1% voter turnout.

Newcomer Gregg McArthur looks to future

For McArthur, it was a long but cordial election season lasting more than five months. Although he is approximately two months away from being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2020, the freshman councilman plans to hit the ground running.

“The one thing about people who run for City Council here is that it isn’t because they are strongly unhappy, it’s because they love the community and want to serve,” McArthur said. “I want to make it the best possible city it can be. This was a common thread with all the candidates running.”

McArthur added that the reason he ran was to preserve what makes St. George an “amazing” place to live, work and play.

“Running for the seat, I probably talked to 200-300 people on the phone,” McArthur said. “Each time I asked what are the biggest issues that we have here in Southern Utah.”

Gregg McArthur filing papers to run for St. George City Council, Jun. 7, 2019 | File photo courtesy of Gregg McArthur, St. George News

McArthur identified five top concerns. Ranked in order was growth, affordable housing, traffic, the availability of high paying jobs and water.

“It was funny,” McArthur said. “Water is a big issue here, but when it comes down to it, it was a lower priority, but I plan to focus on these things. I want to be a voice for the residents of Southern Utah.”

The St. George community is dependent on the Virgin River Basin for its water needs, the primary source of water in Washington County.

While it is believed that water from this source is enough to sustain the county at its current estimated population of 171,000, it will not be enough to sustain the 500,000 projected for the county by 2065.

To alleviate some of the water shortage issues is the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline.

When completed, the 140-mile, 70-inch diameter pipeline will run from Lake Powell to the Sand Hollow Reservoir. The projected route will snake across the Utah and Arizona border and will be able to carry approximately 77 million gallons a day to 13 communities in Kane and Washington counties.

McArthur supports the pipeline project.

“If there is one thing that we don’t want to have an issue with here it is water,” McArthur said. “We have the Virgin River Basin, which we are currently drawing our water from, but we are getting to the top use of the water. If there were ever any problems with that source, I want to make sure we have a reserve.”

McArthur realizes that the No. 1 concern, growth, should be a separate discussion, yet the topic of water is directly linked to the expansion of the town.

“I want to make sure we have water coming to Southern Utah,” he said. “Let’s make sure we don’t have a problem.”

To address many of the concerns from citizens, McArthur believes the city must have a good master plan. He said that he is excited to be a part of that process as the city looks at its master plan during the coming months.

“It’s also important to have a good mix of housing and commercial property, but it must be planned properly,” he added.

McArthur remembers a time when St. George was a small and affordable place to live. During the past 10 to 15 years, the town has become one of the most expensive places to live per capita in Utah.

“We’ve been discovered,” McArthur said. “It is an amazing community to live in.”

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

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