ST. GEORGE — Two veteran city council members were released from their duties just before the newest Santa Clara City Council members were sworn in during a meeting Wednesday.
Former councilman Herb Basso and former councilwoman Mary Jo Hafen both served on the Santa Clara City Council for over 10 years, with Basso hitting 23 years and Hafen resting at 12 years.
“They’ve been around longer than this building; they’ve been here a long time,” Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg said. “You just don’t see a lot of that, but you see it in small towns, in quality towns like Santa Clara.”
Basso has worked tirelessly to represent the citizens throughout his time on the council, Rosenberg said . Basso said it has been a pleasure to work with city staff and councilmen and women old and new.
Basso likes to be involved in the processes behind what affects his life as well as the lives of his neighbors, friends and family. Serving on the city council was a great opportunity to do just that, he said.
Hafen initially served one term on the city council before serving a mission, and upon her return, regained her seat. Rosenberg told the audience that he has not only appreciated her friendship over the years but also her willingness to share her perspective as a long-time resident of Santa Clara.
“She’s someone who really cares,” he said. “She cares about the city, she cares about the people, she cares about the downtown. She’s really put her heart into it, and sometimes, it’s cost her.”
Hafen began to cry as she addressed the hall filled with residents calling the day bittersweet and adding that whenever she has spoken her mind, although not everyone has agreed with her, she has always felt respected, which is important to her.
Each of the exiting council members were gifted with presents from the council and the city staff pitched in to award Basso and Hafen with their own LED plaques.
“These are good people we have in our community and the people who are coming in,” Hafen said. “We’re in great hands. We are so fortunate to live here.”
Councilman Jarett Waite was re-elected to his seat on the city council and joined council-elect members Denny Drake and Leina Mathis as they were sworn in to office by city recorder Chris Shelley.
Drake was the frontrunner in the election, earning the most votes — 817 or roughly 22% — of any of the six candidates vying for the three open seats. Waite earned 747 votes, resting at 1.11 percentage points higher than Mathis, who earned 706 votes. Mathis earned the final remaining open seat with almost 6 percentage points more than Gary Allred, who had the fourth highest number of votes.
Drake has lived in Washington County his whole life, but moved to Santa Clara over 40 years ago with the dream of raising his children in a family-friendly community. He now has four children and 12 grandchildren that call Santa Clara home.
In previous years, Drake is no stranger to the city council, having already served on the council as well as on the Santa Clara Planning Commission and as the mayor of Santa Clara. He also served as the County Commissioner for Washington County in years past while participating as a member of local, state and national committees.
Mathis made her way to Southern Utah in 1994, and has lived in Santa Clara for about 13 years with her six children and 10 grandchildren. She received her bachelor’s degree from Utah State University. She has worked in the banking industry for over 30 years, with experience in risk management, finance and real estate.
Mathis has also served as a board member and the president of the St. George Exchange Club, directing the St. George Mayors Walk for years. For about 12 years, Mathis was a governing board trustee for Dixie Regional Medical Center and spent the last four years working on the Santa Clara City Planning Commission. Mathis, until her election to the city council, served as the chair of the Santa Clara Planning Commission.
Waite has served on the Santa Clara City Council for four years and has assisted the city in establishing a social media presence as well as ironing out various technology issues. Traffic concerns, conditions of the city’s road, and helping citizens understand the impacts of new developments nearby were also topics that he frequently worked on.
Waite graduated from Brigham Young University in 2005 with a degree in business management and runs a small business while taking care of his five children.
Currently, Waite is coordinating the funding and construction of Santa Clara’s BMX track in Canyon View Park while serving as the liaison between the city Public Services Department and chair the Southwest Mosquito Abatement District Board. He also serves at the president of the Chamber Ambassadors while participating as a member of the St. George Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.