‘You just witnessed history’: St. George swears in mayor, new councilwomen

ST. GEORGE — St. George’s mayor and two new councilwomen were sworn into office on Monday, ushering in a new period of city government that the mayor called historic.

St. George Mayor Michele Randell is sworn into office, St. George, Jan. 3, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“Everyone in this room, you just witnessed history,” St. George Mayor Michele Randall told the crowd assembled in the St. George City Council chambers. “We’ve never had three women on the council before.”

Randall, who was appointed to fill former Mayor Jon Pike’s position nearly a year ago, was officially sworn in as the city’s first elected woman mayor. She took the oath of office along with new council members Natalie Larsen and Michelle Tanner. Together with Danielle Larkin, the two council newcomers make women the majority of the council.

Last fall, Randall won the election over challenging City Councilman Jimmie Hughes, while Tanner and Larsen defeated incumbent Vardell Curtis and challenger Greg Aldred.

When talking to media later on, Randell noted that seven municipalities in Washington County now have women mayors. Just four years ago, Donia Jessop ran to become the mayor of Hildale and won, and had even recently been reelected, Randall said. Randall gave Jessop credit for breaking that particular glass ceiling in the county.

New St. George City Councilwoman Natalie Larsen is sworn into office, St. George, Jan. 3, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“I don’t think its the year of the woman,” Randall said. “I think women are getting out of their comfort zones and deciding, ‘You know what? I want to serve my community.’”

The mayor also said she believes the mix of men and women on the council will provide a good mix of perspectives that will help the city continue to move forward in a positive way.

“I think the mix is good,” she said.

Larsen said it was good to see society supporting women getting into politics, yet added she hopes people vote on a candidate’s policies and not their gender.

“I see people as individuals,” she said, “not necessarily as male or female.”

Tanner said it was exciting to be a part of city history.

“It’s cool to see more women stepping up and getting involved,” she said. “And we’ve really been seeing that a lot in these last two years. It’s been dominated by more women speaking up, and I think it’s really the ‘Momma Bear’ response – that kind of innate feeling to protect our children. So I’m excited to be a part of that.”

New St. George City Councilwoman Michelle Tanner is sworn into office, St. George, Jan. 3, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The newly elected mayor and new council also shared responses as to what they plan to do now that they have been sworn in.

All three spoke on supporting and promoting public safety.

Randall said she wants to keep the St. George Police Department staffed with as many officers as possible in order to deal with the continuing growth of the city. Tanner said she wants to make sure the city remains safe for children while also having adequate fire coverage. Larsen wants to see more “communities within communities” that promote close neighborhood ties where people watch out for on another and won’t hesitate to call the authorities if something seems amiss in the neighborhood.

The need to keep up with infrastructure and water use as it pertained to growth was also brought up, with each woman saying those issues were among their priorities.

“You can’t just stop growth unless the water dictates it,” Randall said.

Overall, each shared their gratitude to the voters for getting them to where they are now.

“I look forward so much to serving our community and having it be the best place to live,” Larsen said. “I don’t take this lightly. It is a public service. I love this community and believe in the residents.”

Friends, family and city officials gathering at the St. George City Offices for the swearing-in of the mayor and two new council members, St. George, Utah, Jan. 3, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Tanner said she was also looking forward to the opportunity to serve.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to serving in government in this capacity,” she said.

Randall said she was very grateful, humbled and excited to be able to serve another 4 years as mayor. Her goal, she said, is to make her family and city residents proud and keep St. George a place people love.

“I hope as we grow and move forward, we always continue to keep that small-town feel, and that we treat each other with kindness and respect,” she said. “There’s one thing we all (the City Council) have in common up here, and that is that we love the city that we live in, and we want it to be the best city for our kids and grandkids.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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