‘A successful democracy requires participation’: Debate scheduled for St. George mayor, city council races

Stock image | Photo by Sushiman/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The newly-formed Southern Utah Debate Commission will host candidates for St. George City Council and mayor on Tuesday.

Outgoing Mayor Jon Pike and Interim Mayor-elect Michele Randall at Pike’s farewell event in St. George, Utah, Jan. 20 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

The debate for St. George City Council candidates will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the debate for mayoral candidates will begin at 7 p.m., both in the Eccles Fine Arts Building at Dixie State University.

Vince Brown, who serves as co-chair of the commission, said that he saw a need for regularly scheduled debates for each new election cycle.

“I saw that there were only a few ad-hoc debates in St. George,” Brown told St. George News. “I wanted to standardize debates.”

Brown, who is both a professor of political science and director of the Institute of Politics and Public Affairs at Dixie State, said that debates are an important part of the process.

(L-R) File photo of Councilman Jimmie Hughes and Jackie Comeau, a scouter with 38 years of service, in St. George City Hall, March 18, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

“A successful democracy requires participation from a well-informed public,” he said. “Debates are the best way for voters to gain knowledge of the candidates, as well as their policies.”

“Personally, I’m thrilled that we are holding our first debates,” he continued.

Citizens assess the quality of a candidate based upon how they interact with others, Brown said. This includes the ways in which they interact with other candidates, as well as citizens. And, he added, they must distinguish themselves from the other candidates by responding to questions in real time.

Councilman Jimmie Hughes and Mayor Michele Randall will be there, as will all four candidates vying for the two City Council seats, which include incumbent Councilman Vardell Curtis, Natalie Larsen, Michelle Tanner and Greg Aldred.

Aldred told St. George News that he may arrive in his pickleball gear, though, as he’s also competing for a medal in the Huntsman World Senior Games that day.

“Hopefully no one will hold that against me,” he said.

Don Willie, president and CEO of St. George Area Chamber of Commerce, said the St. George Area of Commerce is pleased to support the newly formed Southern Utah Debate Commission.

“This commission fills an important gap in our community and creates a valuable platform for voters to learn where candidates stand on critical issues,” he said.

A collaborative effort, the Southern Utah Debate Commission is multi-partisan, Brown said. It includes members of the Washington County Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans, as well as members of the media and other local organizations.

The Commission is partially funded by Dixie State University. There is no admission charge, and all are welcome.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 election by clicking here.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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