ST. GEORGE — When the St. George city council meets on Thursday there will be two new faces looking out from behind the dais.
Danielle Larkin and Gregg McArthur will join the incumbent members on the council, Bryan Smethurst, Michele Randall and Jimmie Hughes. Larking, McArthur and Hughes, who is starting a third term, were sworn in during a brief ceremony Monday at city hall.
Larkin is excited to roll up her sleeves and get started.
“What I have learned living here is that the people are really involved and excited about helping with our community,” Larkin said. “I knew this when I was running for office and now more so after the election.”
Larkin added that since being elected, the citizens of St. George have reached out to the freshmen council member with ideas, suggestions and wishlists of things they would like to see happen.
“I have received so many emails and phone calls saying, ‘let’s work together and help each other,'” she said. “I love this about our city.”
McArthur echoed similar thoughts.
“St. George has traditionally been a place that has been welcoming. It’s a place that is safe and a great place to raise a family,” McArthur said. “As we move forward and we grow we need to keep these things into consideration as a council.”
During November’s general election, Hughes pulled in the most votes at 7,717, with McArthur receiving 7,647 and Larkin with 6,714. Incumbents Ed Baca and Bette Arial were both unseated at 6,331 and 5,792 votes, respectively.
Although Baca lost his bid for a second term, he said Monday’s ceremony was a happy event and marks a continuity in local government.
“We’ve got some good people coming on,” Baca said. “Danielle and Gregg are both the tops.”
Baca added that as long-time residents, both bring a wealth of knowledge that he believes will benefit the city’s population.
During his time on the city council, Baca is especially proud every member worked to ensure a high level of transparency and cooperation. While council members had their differences, there was always civility, he said.
“The changes here have been immense during the past few years,” Baca said. “Those who preceded us set the foundation. Now, all we have to do is keep our nose clean and continue to do what’s right for St. George.”
Mayor Jon Pike acknowledged Baca’s contributions to the city both as a councilmember and a community activist prior to his public service.
“We really appreciate his service during the past four years and really more than that,” Pike said. “I’ve always said that Ed’s attended more city council meetings that I have, still.”
Pike pledged that a seat in the council chambers will always be open if Baca chooses to continue to attend meetings.
“We are grateful we have served with Ed,” Pike added. “He has been a great public servant. One thing that you learn pretty quickly is that you are fortunate to serve with the people that you do. When you know their heart is really in it for the right reasons, that there are no agendas, but if there are agendas they are for the good of the public.”
Pike singled out Baca’s commitment to transparency in government and his commitment to his community, always doing what he felt was in the best interest of residents and visitors to St. George.
“Being part of the city of St. George has been a blessing,” Baca said.
Pike welcomed the new councilmembers by discussing the benefits of individuality.
“Each one of us, we bring unique gifts and talents to this council,” Pike said. “We never need to give that up. We are going to occasionally have a difference of opinion and that’s okay. But, we are also going to cooperate as a council. Even if we don’t agree we will come to a consensus … and leave the chamber with good feelings.”
There have been moments during his 12 years in public office, Pike added, he may not have agreed with the direction the council was taking but urged the current council not to give up on individualism, to work in cooperation and respect each other’s votes.
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