ST. GEORGE — It seemed apparent Mayor Jon Pike’s farewell was imminent when the 50-odd people gathered on the third floor ballroom at the Children’s Museum cleared out from the center of the room and sidled up to the wall. Though they came to bid Pike farewell, he said he wasn’t really going anywhere.
“Lt. Gov. Cox asked me to keep living in St. George,” Pike said. “So, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Still, he’s no longer the mayor.
City Manager Adam Lenhard spoke across that space to Pike, quoting from “The Boys in the Boat,” by Daniel Brown, one of Pike’s favorite books.
“‘It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt,'” Lenhard said, quoting the book. “‘It’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.’”
This book was known to many city employees who worked with Pike. He quoted from it consistently throughout his term as the city’s mayor. Among other reasons, he said he likes the book because it shows how people who work as a team can defy the odds.
Pike’s sense of humor shone through even as his colleagues praised him, lending the occasion of his farewell celebration a feeling of lightness and buoyancy.
“That’s the second funeral I’ve had in two days,” Pike said, taking the microphone from Lenhard. Then, as he was wont to do, he pivoted back to praise through metaphor.
“It has been a pleasure being on this boat with all of you,” he said. “This is a team sport. You need all hands on deck.”
The tasks that Pike focused upon, which revolved around his campaign promises, were to listen, ensure that the city emphasizes planning and make sure planning is in public view. He also vowed to focus on economic growth and education.
“Those are all good things,” Pike said. “And we’ve worked hard to ensure that they got the attention they deserved.”
Regarding population growth, Pike said he focused on making sure that life-long residents and new-comers alike feel respected.
“If we can make people feel respected and appreciated, we’ve done a lot as a city,” he said.
Another book from which Pike likes to quote is “Love Your Enemies,” by Arthur Brooks. In it, Brooks refers to the Dalai Lama.
“The Dalai Lama says we should practice warm-heartedness, not contempt,” Pike said. “This thing won’t work with contempt.”
Though there’s ample opportunity for charged conversations when collaborating with others, especially during times of upheaval and change, Pike said he’s focused on the task at hand.
“We should remember: We’re making history,” Pike said. “My mom used to say: ‘Sometimes a change is as good as a rest.’ I haven’t had any rest yet, but there’s been a lot of change.”
The change began with a call from Governor Spencer Cox, who invited Pike to join his cabinet as commissioner of the Utah Insurance Department. Pike, who has worked for years as regional operations director at SelectHealth, suddenly found himself in a position that required him to resign as St. George Mayor, as well as from his day job.
For all that, Pike will continue to call St. George home.
As the event came to a close, Pike said he owed his success to his teammates, which included his city colleagues, wife Kristy and family.
“We all own this city,” he said. “What a privilege of a lifetime it has been to work with all of you.”
Though Pike is moving on to a new position, Interim Mayor-elect Michele Randall said she had learned much from him.
“Jon has dedicated everything he has to St. George,” Randall said. “I’ve watched him work at the City Offices early in the morning, late at night. His family has been amazing to give him up for seven years. I’ve got big shoes to fill.”
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