Hurricane mayoral candidates Nanette Billings, Kevin Tervort address voters

ST. GEORGE — The candidates running for mayor of Hurricane recently met in a public forum at the Hurricane Fine Arts Center, and while Nanette Billings and Kevin Tervort agree with each other on certain issues, they have different ideas about some topics as well.

Billings and Tervort have both served on the Hurricane City Council the past two years. Current Mayor John Bramall could have run for another term, but he chose not to.

Chamber president Nic Lauritzen was moderator at the forum. He read questions that had been emailed by Hurricane citizens for the event.

What follows is a summary of some of the topics discussed by the candidates for mayor and their comments, edited for clarity and brevity.

Why they are running for mayor

“It’s really to cast a vision,” Billings said. “I’ve been here a long time, and I love our community. I love the people, I love our city, I just love everything about Hurricane. I feel like I can cast a vision of what we want it to look like.”

Hurricane candidate for mayor Nanette Billings speaks at a forum, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 4, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

One of her main goals, she said, is to listen to the citizens of Hurricane.

“I haven’t had any problems doing that,” Billings said. “I’ve answered every text, every email, every phone call, every message, because I think that’s important to recognize. I’m here for you. I’m here to make sure that I’m your voice, and I’m casting a vision within the council so that we can represent all of you.”

Billings described herself as a strong supporter of the Constitution.

“I love the freedoms it allows us, and I will always be the one that will stand up for those freedoms, always,” she said.  “That is dear to my heart and I will make sure that we’re not overreaching.”

Billings also strongly supports the city’s master plan.

“I believe that  if we follow that plan, we can keep our small town charm,” Billings said. “I’m running for Hurricane because I want to keep that small town charm.” 

Like Billings, Tervort shares a deep love of Hurricane.

“I came here in 1985, with a little dream and a little tiny family,” Tervort said. “Our major plan was to not stay, and that turned into we’re staying forever. Our kids were raised here; this is the greatest town of all. I’ve been around, I’ve seen a lot of them, and Hurricane is the place to be.”

Tervort said he has the time to serve as mayor, and nothing is more important to him than being able to serve.

He said that like Billings, he hopes to maintain Hurricane’s strong sense of community.

“Our community is the focus of what we need to do,” Tervort said. “And I’m not talking about how many buildings we need to put up, I’m talking about how do we keep this a community.”

Hurricane candidate for mayor Kevin Tervort speaks at a forum, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 4, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Tervort also said he’s a big proponent of the master plan, and in terms of growth, the city needs to stick to that plan as best it can.

He talked about what he’s learned the past 12 years from three different mayors.

“I’ve learned from some of the best,” Tervort said. “I learned that service is the key to a good community. I learned to be direct and stand fast on what you believe.”

“And John (Bramall) has taught me to be kind,” he added. “We need to be kind to each other, that’s how we’re going to keep our sense of community.” 

The pandemic and public welfare

Tervort said that the pandemic has been an issue before the council for the past year.

“We follow our leaders and we try to do the best that we can for our community,” he said. “I’m not one of those guys who says that we’re going to pass mandates and say, everybody’s going to have to do this, everybody’s going to have to do that. I will not, that’s not me.”

He believes that wearing masks and getting vaccinated are personal choices, adding that he did get vaccinated and will wear a mask again if he needs to.

“Do I feel like the rest of you should be forced to do that? No,” Tervort said. “Do I think we need to pass some sort of mandate in our town to make that happen? Absolutely not. Do we need to make a resolution? No.”

Billings had a very similar response.

“I think if you’re wanting mandates or bans then I’m not your candidate,” Billings said. “Follow state guidelines to keep people safe, be mindful of other people, but it’s a personal choice.”

She went back to her belief in the Constitution.

“I believe in not allowing government overreach,” Billings said. “I believe in upholding the Constitution, which is freedom, which is liberties. When those are taken away, we stand up. Personal rights must be protected.”

She added that a mayor’s role is to be influential.

“I believe in standing up and influencing the state Legislature and the state and the attorney general,” Billings said. “You can be influential to state and local school boards.”

Nepotism and conflicts of interest

Depending on the outcome of the election, it’s possible that Billings will be on a council that has council members who are related to her.

Candidates were asked, “Do you believe that if they were elected, that would lead to a conflict of interest to the members of the community?”

Billings called council candidates Kevin Thomas, her brother in law, and Douglas Heideman her friends.

“I believe that we have good men and women in our community,” Billings said. “With everyone here, you won’t be wrong if you vote wherever you vote, because we don’t have evil.”

She added that what separates all council members are differences of opinion, differences in vision, differences in how they’re going to stand up.

“We can all work together,” Billings said. “There’s not a person here who’s going to persuade me to something if I disagree. That’s just my personality to stand up the way I believe.”

Tervort said that all of the candidates are level-headed people, and he thinks the council would be able to work together. But he said the voters might have a different perception.

“There’s people that live here that are not from here, they don’t know you from Adam,” Tervort said. “They just know already that you’re all related. And in the towns they come from, that’s not going to pass. Ever. It’s just not going to happen.”

“But that’s their perception,” Tervort added. “I don’t think you’re bad people. I just think the perception is bad.”

Water and development

“I think the solution would be more wells,” Billings said on the issue of water. “We have 156,000 acre feet of water beneath us, we have to access it. It’d be great to have the Lake Powell Pipeline, but that’s just not an option at this point.”

She also shared an opinion that is the majority among council candidates.

“I believe that the good Lord has made this world and He can certainly sustain it,” Billings said. “I believe that we have to have faith and recognize where the water comes from. It’s there, we just have to access it.”

Tervort said he is on the Water Conservancy Board of Trustees and said that there is water to sustain the community until 2050 at the longest.

“Nanette’s right, we’ve got water beneath us,” Tervort said. “Can we get it, is it good water? We don’t know. Do we have this Lake Powell pipeline water? Yes we do and we’re going to go after it, and we’re going to get it.” 

Growth and infrastructure

“When we’re building the city I believe the future needs to be planned out and then implemented,” Billings said. “We only have 54 square miles of Hurricane, that’s like 22% that’s developed. So there’s lots of spots for growth.”

The key is to use smart planning and to keep enforcing existing codes and regulations, she said.

“If we keep that vision of following the (master) plan, then I believe that we can develop at current zoning and we won’t have chaos,” Billings said. “We can keep that small town charm.”

Tervort said that a big issue involved with growth is infrastructure.

“We’ve talked about all of the development that is going to come, but we haven’t talked about how we’re going to get them there,” Tervort said. “We’re having a big issue about how to provide for these developers that do want to come here.”

Tervort said that infrastructure issues involve water, power, sewer and water pipe issues. He suggested fixing roads and adjusting tax structures on non-residents as ideas to think about to help strengthen infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is costly,” he said. “Citizens do not pay for growth. Development pays for growth.”

To see the entire forum and hear the complete recording, visit the Chamber’s Facebook page.

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

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

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