‘I will work hard for this city I love’: Municipal race winners in Washington County

The St. George City Council elects Michele Randall as interim mayor, St. George, Utah, Jan. 19, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The unofficial reports from this year’s municipal elections have featured incumbent re-elections and challenger victories, as well as some races that could flip once the officials numbers are reported.

Ballot dropbox at the Washington County Administration Building, St. George, Utah, Oct. 19, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

St. George News followed up with the winning candidates in races spread across the various municipalities in Washington County for their response to their unofficial victories and what they plan to achieve as they assume new roles or retain them.

Some races may be subject to change as updated tallies are reported between now and the official canvases to be tallied and adopted in their respective municipalities.

Elections Day’s unofficial results can be found here.

St. George

In St. George, incumbent Mayor Michele Randall won against challenging St. George City Council member Jimmie Hughes in unofficial voting returns. This is Randall’s first time being elected mayor as she was originally appointed to the position earlier this year.

In an email to St. George News, she said:

In this file photo, Mayor Michelle Randall at City Hall, St. George, Utah, April 28 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George news

I was very happy when I was appointed Mayor in January, but to be elected is another feeling of happiness. This time the people voted and their vote of confidence in my ability to lead this city. It’s very humbling. I feel very blessed and I’m very full of gratitude.

I want to see our city grow responsibly. I want us to maintain an amazing quality of life. I will continue to be accessible to everyone. I will work hard for this city I love.

In the City Council race, Natalie Larsen and Michelle Tanner won over incumbent Vardell Curtis and fellow challenger Greg Aldred. Their written comments follow.

Michelle Tanner

I am excited and honored to represent the amazing individuals in St. George. I feel amazing energy in the community. The liberty movement and desire to have limited government within its proper role is strong. I look forward to taking on this challenge and am committed to being a public servant, not a politician.

I will represent We The People. I will be the voice of the individual and place principle over popularity. I hope to secure as much independence for our city away from the federal government overreach as possible. I strive to keep the government within its proper role. I will work hard to assure our community remains the amazing place we all know and love. I hope to increase the support to our law enforcement and fire department as we need to assure the protection of our citizens’ life, liberty and property among our recent growth.

Natalie Larsen

I am grateful for everyone who has helped me with my grassroots campaign. Along with my family, who have been a great support, we have a city full of wonderful, talented people who stepped up to help get my message out. I am honored to be elected as a member of the city council.

I look forward to working with the fire and police departments to make sure they have the resources they need and the citizens of this community have coverage in their neighborhoods. Infrastructure has to happen in step with responsible growth. I will work to build stronger neighborhoods. It is also a priority to tell the history of this community, including the how and why it’s Utah’s Dixie.

Washington City

City Council member Kress Staheli has unseated incumbent Mayor Ken Neilson who sought a fourth term in office.

In this file photo, Mayoral candidate Kress Staheli during a candidate forum at the Washington City Community Center, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 12, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“I feel humbled, and I feel optimistic and I feel ready to serve the public,” Staheli said in a phone call with St. George News. “I’m looking forward to serving and being an active, involved mayor.”

Staheli said he hopes to continue fostering a collaborative relationship between the City Council and city staff, city residents and the greater community.

“Collaboration will be an important thing,” the mayor-elect said, adding he also plans to communicate more with residents about what is happening in their city. “I want to collaborate and communicate.”

Among the new mayor’s priorities will be shaping Washington City’s downtown into a central gathering place for the community.

For the time being Bret Henderson and Marisa Thayn appear to be the winners in the City Council race, having taken more votes than incumbent Roger Bundy and challenger Kimberly Casperson.

Bret Henderson

“I’m really excited to get to serve the community,” Henderson said with cautious optimism that he will be on the Washington City Council next year. Though he has a comfortable lead over the other three candidates, he said he won’t call it a win until the results are finalized.

As a likely new City Council member, Henderson said he has a lot of learning to do, yet is ready to get to work addressing issues of growth and water conservation in the city. He also advocated for increased commercial development in the city.

“We’ve had explosive residential growth over the last 10 years, what we need now is some more industrial and commercial development,” he said.

Concerning water conservation, Henderson said the City Council will need to look at preexisting rules regarding landscaping requirements and may also need to adopt some recommendations made by the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

Marissa Thayn

Thayn declined to comment for now due to how close she is in the race with Casperson. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thayn was just 38 votes ahead with 2,728 votes to Casperson’s 2,690.


Incumbent Mayor Chris Hart won another term as Ivins mayor, securing nearly 1,000 votes over challenger Andy Appel, according to unofficial voting returns. His written comment follows.

In this file photo, Ivins Mayor Chris Hart at the mayoral and City Council candidate forum held at the Lava Ridge Intermediate School, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 4, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

I was prepared for either outcome frankly having served three terms as Mayor already. It’s been rewarding being a part of the many important changes that have occurred in our City during that time so I’m pleased to have the opportunity to continue to serve our residents for another term.

I’m guessing that the election results suggest that experience in City Government, a history of service to our community, a depth of understanding of the issues we face and having a strong voice on regional planning Boards, Committees and Council’s matters to our voters.

Going forward I will do as I have always done; work hard, study the issues, listen to our residents and do what I believe is best for our wonderful City and its residents.

In the City Council race, Lance Anderson and Mike Scott took first and second place in the unofficial election returns and beat incumbents Derek Larsen and Cheyne McDonald. Their written comments follow.

Mike Scott

I’m excited to start serving on the Ivins City Council because it gives me the opportunity to get residents involved earlier in the decision-making process. I believe a lot of residents feel their concerns about issues, like water and development, haven’t been heard. I think that’s one of the reasons the election went the way it did.

We all know Ivins will continue to grow, at least for a while. But we need to do more to ensure that growth is sensitive to and compatible with existing neighborhoods and does not overwhelm our environment, infrastructure, and tap out our limited water supply. By working together, the whole community, that’s how we will be able to keep Ivins special.

Lance Anderson

Anderson did not respond to St. George News’ request for comment prior to publication.

Santa Clara

Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg, who has served the city as its mayor since 2007, was unopposed in the mayoral race and will return for another term.

“Well, it’s either that or no one wants the job,” Rosenberg joked during a prior interview with St. George News. “I’ve always said if somebody else wants to step forward and take the job, and if I think they could do a good job, I’d probably go fishing more. But I enjoy the job. People say I’m crazy for that, but I enjoy being mayor.”

Incumbent Ben Shakespeare and newcomer Christa Hinton won reelection and election respectively based on Tuesday night’s unofficial returns, defeating Jimi Kestin who came in third in the race. Their written comments follow.

Ben Shakespeare

In this file photo, Council member Ben Shakespeare during the Santa Clara City Council meeting in Santa Clara Town Hall, Santa Clara, Utah, Oct. 28, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

I really just want to thank the residents of Santa Clara. I am very grateful to have the ability to continue to serve on the city council.

I want to thank both Jimi Kestin and Christa Hinton for running such positive campaigns. They are both great candidates!

I will continue to do my best in doing what is in the best interest of Santa Clara. I will listen and try to make decisions that will benefit the community now and with a vision for the future.

This is such a great community and I am so grateful to be a part of it!

Christa Hinton

Hinton did not respond to St. George News’ request for comment prior to publication.


Donia Jessop will return next year as Hildale’s mayor for another term, having defeated challenger Jim Barlow.

In an email written to St. George, she said:

In this file photo, Hildale City Mayor Donia Jessop at the Real Women Run Southern Utah training in St. George, Utah, Dec. 1, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

I feel like this is not just my win, but it’s the people’s win and it’s Hildale’s win. It really shows how the people are feeling about the direction we’re going. I feel like the woman who won the first election is not the woman who won the second election.

I have grown and learned so much in my last four years, and I expect to grow and learn a lot more. I want to stay in tune with the people’s needs and get a lot done in the next four years, particularly securing much-needed water for our families.

Terrill Musser and Brigham Holm took the top spots in unofficial election returns over incumbent Jared Nicol, challenger Derick Holm and write-in candidate Darlene Stubbs. Their written comments follow.

Terrill Musser

I am honored and humbled to be elected. To all who voted for me, thank you for your support. I promise I will not let you down and will work tirelessly to advance the vision of Hildale and all of Short Creek as a healthy and prosperous place to live for all of us.

To those who did not vote for me, I want to emphasize that I respect your opinions and will represent you as well. I will work to earn your respect and support during this upcoming four-year period. The future is bright!

Brigham Holm

I feel very honored that people in my city chose me. I’m very passionate about my town, and I’m excited to do the work we need to do to keep moving in the right direction. I look forward to working with everybody on the council to continue showing people what it’s like to have a functioning city that serves its people.

That’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to serve my constituents and make sure they know they have a voice in their city and we listen to them.


In Hurricane, voters chose two winners out of four candidates for City Council.

David Hirschi was first with 2,646 votes and Kevin Thomas was second with 1,943 and both were elected

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

Finishing in third and fourth, respectively, were Douglas Heideman (1,886) and Brian Hawkins (1,823).

“I’m just really honored to serve the citizens of Hurricane. They’re looking for a change,” Hirschi told St. George News. “They want to be more conservative in our growth and policies as a city. I feel honored to represent these great people and get to know them and work with them, and help them keep Hurricane great.”

Thomas was elected to the council for a second time after having served a previous term from 2016 to 2020.

“I was very pleased that the people were willing to have me back,” Thomas said. “In this election cycle I made an effort to reach out to folks, and I’m just happy I was able to mend some of those fences and hard feelings. I’m grateful that they were willing to have me back. Hopefully, I can do a better job this time around.”

In the mayor’s election in Hurricane, current council members Nanette Billings and Kevin Tervort had a very close race that saw Billings win by getting 51% of the votes (2,317) to Tervort’s 48% (2,144).

“It’s very humbling,” Billings said, noting the margin of 173 votes separating her from Tervort. “That makes me recognize that I have to work even harder to gain all the citizens’ support.”

Billings said that she believes her message of retaining Hurricane’s values and standing up for the beliefs of the electorate rang true with voters.

“I was representing citizens that wanted our small-town charm, that wanted to keep the current zones, and not increase density,” Billings said. “I was representing citizens with their view that we should stand up for what we believe.”

St. George News reporters David Dudley, Eric Gould, Chris Reed and Ammon Teare contributed to this story.

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

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