OPINION: Good ole boys a scapegoat for tough times

good ole boys
Photo by Shannon Pifko

Jen Austin is the founder and Editor-in-Chief  of St. George News. She is a talk radio host on the Perspectives Morning Show with Bryan Hyde on Fox News Radio 1450 AM each weekday morning. The opinions stated in this article are solely hers and not those of St. George News.

I once had a listener call in to the show and, to summarize, tell me “Don’t move to Southern Utah if you are just going to complain about it.” I was on our Fox News talk show expressing my frustration that July 24th is celebrated more grandly here than July 4th.

The caller seemed upset, not so much with my views on the holidays but that I had moved to Southern Utah only to complain about it. I see his point of view. I’ve seen this sentiment shared through the county in various other areas, as well. People being told, “If you don’t like it, get out.”

But haven’t we all felt that way before? When someone complains that Utah should have stricter gun laws, I find myself thinking, “Don’t try to change it. Move to California.” When someone complains about the marriage laws, I think, “Then move to New York.”

I moved to Utah, and especially Southern Utah, because it’s the greatest place in the world. (I said that on the radio and had a guy accuse me of being naïve, and too “small town” with no real experience in the world. He’s from Las Vegas. A place I would never raise my children.)

I’m not from Southern Utah, but I am proud to call it home. As a prior military member, I have traveled and lived in more states than most people. I spent a couple years trying to get rid of the “hick” accent I picked up while living in both Texas and Arkansas. I’ve lived in Virginia and attended the inauguration of President Barak Obama. I’ve lived in Portland and cities bigger than our entire county.

I’ve met people of all different cultures and lifestyles and, as I’ve said before, lived in many places where being naïve was simply not an option. I have members of my family who are from a number of different countries and became U.S. citizens because they love America.

And with all that experience, I chose to live in Washington County because it is the best place to call home and raise my children. I know it’s not perfect. I think the City of St. George needs to loosen its regulations on small businesses and I don’t believe they have the right to inject religious beliefs into the city code (such as the dance ordinance which states dancing will not be held on Sundays).

That being said, I completely agree with things that boost the city, such as the carousel – which was paid for in a special fund by those who pay taxes in the downtown area. My kids love the carousel and I think those things are a good addition to the city. I wouldn’t mind if it was privatized either; I just don’t see the big deal either way.

I grew up in a “small town” like St. George. As kids, we rode our bikes on the street and we played with everyone in the neighborhood without a second thought. I was a non-Mormon in a very LDS town and there were times when I had to face the “I can’t play with you because you are not Mormon.” I remember my father being very angry and wishing for more diversity in our little town.

He got his wish.

As we began to grow up, so did our town until it wasn’t small anymore. A few dance clubs came and went, but the teens and young adults caused so many issues with the police that it was shut down. Restaurants and movie theaters popped up everywhere. The small town began to grow at the edges and the downtown began to die. The city seemed to double in size with people and new businesses, and so did the crime. That “once small town” is no longer a place where my children could ride their bikes up and down the street without fear of something happening to them.

Now this is pretty standard throughout society, but there are still areas where you can drive down the road and people working in their yards will wave to you even if they don’t know you; areas where your kids can play without fear of being kidnapped.

Those places still remain in Washington County and I ask you, do you really want to change that? Because you can’t have growth and change without crime. They go hand-in-hand, like it or not.

I hear complaints of the “good ole boys” in St. George and I heard about it right after I moved here. But I honestly believe it’s a good saying without a lot of backing. St. George doesn’t have a lot of jobs so getting a job is hard. Period.

If you think there’s a group of men running this whole town, then how did a single mom (simply being a single mom has a bad label I’ve noticed, even after I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) start her own company and land a job with one of the best companies in the county and get her voice on air every morning? It was my dedication and experience, and my willingness to work hard. It was not because I knew a Gubler or an Ence, or any other family that is being named in this special club.

Where I come from, three very powerful and rich men will prevent you from working in that town if you cross them. I know who they are; everyone in that area knows who they are.

I don’t think that is the case here. Maybe that puts me in the minority, but our problems have more to do with the economy and the housing bust, people’s greed and get-rich-quick schemes, than a group known as “the good ole boys.” I’m not saying they don’t exist, I’m saying they don’t have the power and control everyone wants to say they do. They are a scapegoat when times are tough.

As for the Mormon church, you are going to find things you don’t like everywhere you go. Living in the south, I certainly felt the pressures from the Baptist church.

The LDS church does not run this county. Many members of the church are leaders in the county, but so are non-members. And I am not going to blame a church when the people of that faith are acting in ways I don’t agree with.

If there are problems in this county, I’m willing to stand with you to find solutions. But I won’t join you in finger pointing and name-calling.

[email protected]

Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Bill October 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Well said, Jen.

    I’m new here, (only a year), but just a couple weeks ago I was approached by a “good ole boy” asking my sincere thoughts on a city issue. As we talk that person lamented some of the same things which you commented on. In a rare stroke of wisdom I said “Next time that accusation is tossed out there maybe you should remind them that “Good” is included in the good ole boy moniker.

    Have a great one.

  • Hogrider October 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I’ve heard that too but usually from those who have nothing good to say about most anything. If they aren’t progressing, they will blame the unseen “good ole boys” for their problems, rather do some serious soul searching about their own failure to succeed. St George was initially created in the minds of Latter Day Saints who settled here. Theirs was a sense of good values and they built the town with those things in mind. All the good this city has is rooted in those values. Loosening the values will allow bad influences to flourish as they have in other cities everywhere.

    I like not having helicopters flying overhead all night long on patrol, distant gunfire, graffitti everywhere and people who just don’t care about you. I don’t want that to happen to St George or Washington County, and I do what I can to preserve what we have. If everyone would take part in that, we would all be “good ole boys (and girls)”.

  • tyler October 5, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    If people moved here and didn’t complain about some issues, imagine just how deeply square and eerie this place would be with all one track, same-minded people, EWWW!! I was born and mostly raised here and believe me, I probably complain more than new residents about how lame and twisted some things are. When I hear “if you dont like it here, leave”, it hits a nerve, cuz how else can a place change and evolve without complaints and opinions from the outside world, or local for that matter?! Nowhere is perfect, and STG is without a doubt, no exception. Hands down, the best thing to EVER happen to this area is growth and diversity to break up and mix the stagnant culture and closed-mindedness. May diversity thrive!

  • urbanboy October 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    “the lds do not run this county, many lds are leaders in the county” ok, that’s the point though, the problem stems from their religion and not knowing how to properly seperate their church and political issues. you can’t tell me that the leaders who are lds don’t try and push their values on all of us around here! if they werent so obvious in pushing their values so much, there wouldn’t be minorities hating how they are discriminated or singled out etc. so yes, in mine and many others’ opinions, lds culture floods out everything else and dictates in a huge way what is and isn’t gonna be. for example, when we do start getting clubs and a nightlife eventually, just like a rated R show or an MMA fight at the dixie center, if you don’t like it or don’t care to get involved because your church doesn’t agree with it and runs your life, then don’t partake, but what right does ONE certain religion have to dictate and run the show for the rest of us? 😛

  • -Mike- October 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I agree with parts of what everyone has said. St George is a great place to live and raise kids, and that is mostly because of the values of those who founded the area. However, those values shouldn’t be forced upon those who disagree with some of them… to many people, Sunday is just another Saturday and there’s nothing wrong with that. People will always complain, and we can’t expect everything to change, but with how the diversity has grown over the past decade we should be able to expect the leaders to embrace that diversity and make accommodations. Just because the majority of us are LDS doesn’t mean that the minority should “suffer” through ultra-conservative laws that shouldn’t have made it through the “separation of church and state”. If I don’t want to drink, I won’t go to a bar. If I don’t want to party on Sunday’s, I won’t. That shouldn’t mean that others CAN’T.

    Loosening up a few laws and accepting the diversity we have isn’t going to run St George into the ground.

  • ms jackson October 8, 2011 at 12:35 am

    OKAY ok ok ok…although usually interesting and entertaining, im sick of stg getting judged up n down everytime an article like this appears! can we all move on. St George is whatever it appears to be in the eye of the beholder. Thankyou 😉

  • ms jackson October 8, 2011 at 12:40 am

    …Vote November 8th, ’nuff said.

  • Not a Mormon October 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Believe it or not, but there are “good ole boys”. It’s not some cabal of a few men in top hats (or dressed like Boss Hogg), plotting in cigar-smoke filled rooms, but it is all those who are in any position of power who allow their Mormon theology to affect ANY decisions that are part of the public sphere.
    Its those backwards, closed-minded, small-town, head-in-the-sand, cult beliefs that keep wages artificially low, refuse to allow new businesses in, don’t allow 18 year old adults to smoke, over tax and water down the booze, hold liquor permits in secretive hands so there can’t be a normal number of bars, don’t allow dance clubs, run transients out of town like they have the plague by buying bus tickets for them and threatening them with jail time, have “seminaries” on public school grounds and allow students to attend during public school hours, close businesses on Sunday, and any other myriad abnormal-for-modern-America behaviors that reveal the seedy underbelly of Southern Utah politics/life.

    Bring on the growth, bring on the crime, bring on the NORMALCY of life like in the rest of the United States. There is no reason that one should be nearly required to have a passport to cross the Utah state border. This is America and we should all be able to come here and not have our lives inconvenienced because Mormons want to impose their values on everyone. Live your cult faith quietly in private and get out of the public sphere! At least the wave of illegals will help outbreed Mormons.

  • Helen Schuenemann January 17, 2012 at 9:46 am


    What happened? Did Fox replace Bryan and Jen radio talk show? I listen most mornings and today you guys are gone? Seems like the establishment can’t even allow an early morning three hr. show from those other than the establishment lackys.

    So sorry if you are gone. Please let me know if I can find you elsewhere.

    A Fan.


    • Jen Austin May 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Helen I just saw your comment and I’m sorry for a very late response. I’m now a TV news anchor, happily married and missing STG! Maybe someday I’ll retire there! I move to where my jobs takes me as that’s the nature of my career. You can find me on betweenbroadcasts. Com

  • Firefly January 18, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Dear STGeorgeNews: Some one please inform Helen Schuenemann that Jen Watkins is no longer with your agency and that there is no longer a Bryan and Jen show at Perspectives. Jen Watkins (now Jen Austin) no longer resides in Southern Utah.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.