Pike v. McArthur; gloves come off for Duel at Dixie mayoral debate

ST. GEORGE — Mayoral candidates Dan McArthur and Jon Pike met for the Duel at Dixie Debate this evening.

The debate, hosted by the Dixie State University College Republicans, was held at the DSU Gardner Center Ballroom. Both candidates were cordial enough through the first few rounds of questions, but the gloves soon came off as the conversation wandered into controversial topics, such as the shutdown of Dixie Ambulance Service, failures at the city Animal Shelter, and questionable code enforcement practices.

The first questions were about the economy. Both candidates talked about the importance of the Washington County Economic Development Council and pledged to continue working with Director Scott Hirschi.

“I went out and asked Scott Hirschi (to be on the economic council),” the incumbent McArthur said, touting his own role in St. George’s past growth. “Economic development started under my tenure,” he said, stressing the important role St. George has played in the economic development of the entire county. “Wal-Mart couldn’t have been there if it hadn’t been for St. George,” he said, “Litehouse Foods couldn’t be over in Hurricane if it wasn’t for St. George.”

Pike said that he thinks that the future of the economy in Washington County rests on the shoulders of today’s students.

Mayoral candidates Dan McArthur and Jon Pike square off at the Duel at Dixie Debate in the DSU Gardner Center Ballroom, Oct. 28, 2013 | Photo by Michael Flynn, St. George News
Mayoral candidates Dan McArthur and Jon Pike square off at the Duel at Dixie Debate in the DSU Gardner Center Ballroom, Oct. 28, 2013 | Photo by Michael Flynn, St. George News

“I’d like to emphasize education,” Pike said. “As we sit in this great jewel of an institution, I think it’s important to remember that from an economic standpoint that this is the key to our future in St. George City and Washington County.”

He has high hopes for a science and technology campus, Pike sad, that the city plans to develop in partnership with the state, on top of the Black Ridge where the airport used to be.

On the importance of the next mayor being native to St. George, Pike said that he believes there are advantages to having lived here long enough to understand the region. He said that he and his wife have lived here for 18 years, and he feels like that’s just about the right amount of time.

However, Pike also pointed out that the city is full of transplants from up north and out of state. He asked audience members to raise their hands if they were born in Washington County, and less than one-third of those in attendance raised their hands.

“What does that tell us?” he asked. “There’s a lot of people that weren’t born here. I wasn’t born here. I have relatives that were here in the old days, but they didn’t stay here,” he said. “But we all love St. George, and we can all say now we are from Dixie, can’t we?” he said, recalling the lyrics to one of McArthur’s favorite song.

“That’s what the song says: Are you from Dixie? Well sure, because we all live here now. So, I’m from Dixie too, and I think it’s great that we have different perspectives and different experiences.”

It is important to understand what came before, McArthur said. “Knowing that history and imparting that to the rest of the public that comes here … by imparting that to you, it makes this your hometown,” he said. “We stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before that have always stood here and tried to invite the world to our community. And we continue to do that, and welcome the world to our community.”

Pike was asked why the city didn’t consider creating a city-run ambulance service when Dixie Ambulance collapsed after its license was revoked by the state. Pike said that the city didn’t make that decision.

“Frankly, we kind of abdicated our role in that process because we never put forward a standard-of-care agreement,” he said. “I wish we would have. I think it would have protected them as well as us.”

Pike said that he had fought for such a measure to be implemented five years ago when he first joined the Council, but the city never went through with it.

McArthur said that he regretted what happened to Dixie Ambulance, and accused Intermountain Healthcare – the company that Pike works at – of instigating the ambulance service review that led to the revocation of the ambulance service’s license.

“I thought that it was going to be just an appraisal of what kind of service we had,” McArthur said, “because we never had an appraisal of our ambulance service from the state.”

Pike later took issue with McArthur’s statement.

“I just wanted to clarify one thing,” he said. “I don’t think the Mayor meant to say this, but Intermountain Healthcare did not request that we look at this, it was Gold Cross that did. Is that what you were trying to say?” Pike said to McArthur.

“What I’m saying is that you brought it before the City Council,” McArthur said, addressing Pike directly.

Pike hesitated for a moment, then said: “Well no, I didn’t, actually, it was Gold Cross who brought it. Gold Cross brought us the letter and asked us to sign it.” Pike said that the Council refused to sign a letter of support for either company, and agreed to wait to see the outcome of the review process. Pike then pushed the blame right back to McArthur, he said:

We failed 15 to 20 years ago when we failed to set up a standard-of-care agreement that protected everyone. I believe that if that were the case, Dixie Ambulance would have stepped up to the level they needed to be at, and they would still be in business today.

The most interesting questions may have been the ones that the candidates submitted themselves for one another. McArthur’s asked Pike how he expected to be an effective mayor when he already has a full-time commitment working for Intermountain Healthcare.

Pike said that, while he doesn’t own his own business, as McArthur does, his job gives him quite a bit of flexibility of scheduling. He said he spoke with his boss and with the president of IMHC.

“I’m a very efficient person, by nature,” Pike said. “my job is such that I can go in early, I can stay late, whatever it takes to get my job done.”

Pike then asked McArthur if he thinks that recent questions surrounding the animals shelter and code enforcement might be symptomatic of a larger problem with city governance.

McArthur said that Pike should share some of the blame for problems that have come to light in these areas.

“I feel like a deer with the target painted on me during deer season,” McArthur said, “when I think it should have been spread out among other people.” McArthur said that he doesn’t have very much authority over some areas of city government.

“A ‘weak mayor’ form of government it’s called because we have a city manager that is appointed by the City Council,” McArthur said. “Certainly when you point fingers, a lot of them come right back at you.”

It’s up to the City Council to decide on what codes and ordinances the city adopts, McArthur said. “I don’t have a vote,” he said.

The general election will be held next Tuesday, Nov. 5. The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Follow this link to see if you are currently registered, and where to go to cast your vote this year.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.



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  • Joe Smoe October 28, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Time for the Current Good ole boy system that St George currently has to go away

    • John Doe October 29, 2013 at 8:47 am

      There is actually a Good Ol’ Boy system in “every” political administration in this nation. That’s just how it works. It starts at the President, goes on to the Senate and Congress, then to The States, on to Counties then City’s. There’s not one group of elected officials anywhere that are not part of a special interest group or influenced by their own gang of Good ol’ boys in one form or another. There’s no way around it. There’s too much money involved. Human nature likes and desires power and authority over others. Our founding fathers have written many papers warning us of this syndrome of human nature. So who do you vote for? All you can do is vote for the lesser of two evils and hope for the best. Then wait for the next election.

    • Ron de Weijze October 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      The Good ole boy system is the backdoor politics we do NOT know about or which is kept away from us at any cost, including bribery, intimidation, railroad jobs, train wrecks. Don’t confuse the visible and openly discussed with the invisible and carefully avoided.

  • Ken October 29, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I really don’t like either of these two! First off McArthur has had his turn and it is time for change, second wasn’t Pike involved in backdoor dealing with Urquhart and Gold Cross. I also thought TARA DUNN would be different but her political grandstanding with Pike and Urquhart at Zion is very telling about her character!!

  • DoubleTap October 29, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Sounds like McArthur has taken a “cue” from the Obama administration.
    1. Not his fault.
    2. Someone else is responsible.
    3. “I don’t have a vote”.
    4. I didn’t know.
    5. “Economic development started under my tenure”.
    6. McArthur brought Wal Mart.
    7. McArthur brought Litehouse Foods.
    8. It was IHCs fault St. George lost Dixie Ambulance.

    Sounds like McArthur has his work cut out for him. How many citizens will fall for his “stories”?
    It is time for McArthur to go. He has hurt this great city enough.

    • Arrogant October 29, 2013 at 11:15 am

      The 2006 economic collapse where area unemployment was higher than the national average. For several years, the area unemployment was over 10%, ranking it as one of the worst job markets in the nation. The housing market collapsed, and the housing devaluation was higher than national average as well as the extremely high rate of repossessions and bank foreclosures that occurred under his tenure. People lost their jobs, their homes, their livelihoods because of McArthurism. At one time, there were approximately 3,000 houses on the market. Houses were devalued far below what people owed, and people just walked away from their debts. Look at the increases in the rate of domestic violence (one of the highest in Utah), drug related crimes and thefts. This was Mayor McArthurism at its worst.

    • Duh! October 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Who can forget him telling volunteers at the animal shelter to keep their mouths shut becuase it might hurt his reelection campaign?

  • Arrogant October 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I think McArthur is extremely arrogant in his demeanor. He seems to imply that if you move to St George that you are beneath those born here. He seems to imply everyone should adopt his ideology, and if you don’t, then you aren’t welcome (“You can move!”) McArthur needs to answer and make amends for his illegal trespass and searches on people’s properties. He needs to answer and make amends to the poor operation and abuses at the animal shelter. McArthur’s personal businesses must abide by the same city codes he endorses. McArthur also needs to listen to the ideas of people moving here. He is a public servant not a DICTATOR.

  • Curly October 29, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Amazing that McArthur didn’t probe Pike on his relationship with Senator Urquhart & Gold Cross and how those paths cross with IHC.

    Jon Pike might be an oustanding bishop, but voting him into office as Mayor will be voting IHC & Gold Cross into power. Wouldn’t that be a great city.

    Pike cannot criticize the Mayor when it is Pike that has had the vote on the council for years and Pike that has had the ability to rally other council members for a vote.

    History has also shown that Pike is a “yes man” to the city manager as a council member when he has a vote. If he becomes Mayor and doesn’t have a vote and has a full-time job, it is pretty clear he will be even more of a “yes man” to the city manager.

    St. George is swirling down the drain and Jon Pike is leading the charge.

  • jim October 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

    HAHA! The only way McArthur will not be mayor, is when he dies.
    This city is 99.9% good old boys McArthur fans.

    • Arrogant October 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

      I hate to admit you are probably right, because 1: old people here are afraid of anything that could hint at change (even if that change is for the better or removes a controlling dictatorship from office), 2: young people are either too lazy to vote, are ignorant to issues and candidates, or just don’t care, 3: people will vote for him anyway, because they think whoever new in the office would be just as evil as the predecessor.

    • non-voters October 29, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Historically there are usually 12-15% of registered voters who turnout to vote. So in order to win, just over 50% of the turnout is needed to secure victory. In other words, 8% of the registered voters choose who wins every time we vote. Isn’t that just fantastic ?

      • DoubleTap October 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

        The low voter turnout (12%-15%) in this city is pathetic.

        McArthurs “use by ” date has expired. Toss him out on Nov.5.

      • Duh! October 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm

        That’s because the younger voters either don’t have a clue or don’t care. The makeup of that 12 – 15% voter turn-out probably is mostly seniors. Young adults in this town are clueless on local politics let alone nation or world events.

  • Josh October 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I think Pike has got this one won! Check out the analysis in my article. Hope it’s ok I post this here Joyce.

  • Knowledge is power October 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    What is so wrong with IHC? They have brought open heart, roger Millar, neurosurgery, chad cole, the helicopter and they are a huge economic driver in the private sector.
    I wonder what this community would be like without IHC.
    Research the economics if Saint George and you’ll understand. But maybe Saint George residents don’t care about jobs and their economy. We should maybe just go back to farming.
    My aunt is coming down here now to get cancer treatment instead of at huntsman in SLC because of Dr. Nadauld.

  • Adrian October 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Oh, the horror. During McArthur’s tenure St. George consistently made the top ten places to retire, raise kids, live, etc. The only negative bleat I hear is that he’s a “good ol’ boy”. (Let’s not dignify the latest complaint — that he didn’t personally manage the Animal Shelter).

    What’s a “good ol’ boy” anyways? Hmmmm. Someone who’s lived and worked here all his life? Someone who’s owned businesses and ranch land (that wasn’t worth anything until recently) for generations? Hmmm. Yeah, good ol’ boys are evil. let’s elect a recent liberal-transplant to be mayor or council member. Yeah, let’s become like Berkeley or Boulder.

    Asia Carrera, yes the former porn star, said it best a while back (in the Spectrum): “I deliberately moved to St. George with my husband so we could raise our kids in a conservative atmosphere, in a low-crime, family friendly state. I do appreciate that the laws are there, and will make it harder for my kids to get into trouble when they get older.” And she reiterated that the community’s conservatism was the reason she moved there, and that she had no plans to challenge it.

    Yeah, St. George suffered in the recession. But nothing like California and the blue states. Wake up folks, you do NOT want to be like them.

    • Head Buried? October 30, 2013 at 8:38 am

      You don’t read the arrest records much, do you? Otherwise you’d see that St George has a drug problem, and that drug use could be filtering into the younger group. You haven’t read the domestic violence incidents either, the shootings, the murders, etc. Jobs? Give me a break. Fast food wages don’t give people a livelihood. Unemployment is higher than the rest of Utah. You are typical of many people here with your “it’s not California (LA) or liberal” comment. Why are you so paranoid of electing someone else as mayor instead of propping your dictator back in charge? St George reminds me of Cuba with Fidel Castro as their dictator. Apparently some Cubans find their dictator Fidel Castro as okay despite how he is viewed by the rest of the world. Maybe that’s how St George natives view their dictator McArthur.

  • Tired of Cry Baby's October 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    There was once a City by the Sea and the city was full of CityFolk who said “Oh we hate it here. It is not at all like the great City by the Desert, where the people are so friendly and warm and so pleasant to be around”

    So the CityFolk move from the City by the Sea to the City by the Desert. But then the CityFolk started noticing that things were not to their liking. And cries of “the town is being run by the Good Old Boys Club, and these hicks or Dixie-ite, are too backward and racist in their thinking to be in power”

    So the CityFolk whine, and cried, and wrote about how things should be in the newspaper and campaigned to bring ENLIGHTENMENT to the City by the Desert. They got together and make up the Washington Coalition. They scoff that those who said “It you don’t like it leave”

    After a time the CityFolk with help of others of their kind, got their way and made the changes, that brought the ENLIGHTENMENT to the City by the Dessert.

    Then CityFolk put a For Sale sign in front of their house. When ask why they were leaving after getting ALL that they wanted. They cried “Oh we hate it here it now like the City by the Sea. It not like at all like the great City by the Forest where people are so friendly and warm and so pleasant to be with”

    • observation October 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      People have the right to move where they … well please. They might come here for the National Parks, the weather or for whatever reason they choose. It is their right to move where they please. This city does not belong to Dan McArthur. It belongs to those who live here, including those who moved here. If you cannot tolerate change, then you should leave. And maybe the people like your “City By The Desert” but can’t stand the politics of McArthur, especially those that violate others’ guaranteed CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS which trumps McArthur’s dictatorship rules. Just as they see an unsightly mole on their body they are content with, they will remove that unsightly mole and then be very happy. McArthur may be viewed as that unsightly mole. Remember how he accused “outsiders” as bringing hate and prejudices? A lot of people are offended by that outrageous and offensive remark.
      Ed. ellipsis

    • Craig October 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      But, all that “ENLIGHTENMENT” did not help them to turn into “a white and delightsome people” and thus they knew it was time to move and not get caught up in the Cult of The Desert Dwellers.
      And they lived Happily Ever After.

  • Festus October 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Soooo Pike is an idiot and MacArthur isn’t much better.. Just glad I no longer reside in STG!!!

  • My Evil Twin October 31, 2013 at 10:29 am

    It is actually kind of nice to sit at home in Ivins and watch what is going on in St. George politics. It seems to me that McArthur has done a pretty good job. That isn’t to say that Pike might not do as well, or even better, but as far as I’m concerned, his Dixie Ambulance/Gold Cross stance should flatly knock him out of the running.
    And I sincerely hope we all remember where Urquhart was in that situation at the next election. And just how many others saw through his phony caper at Zion? He knew full well that the park would be open, and just used the situation as cheap publicity.
    Someone asked what is wrong with IHC. Well, I’d have to say that just like any large organization, they have their share of problems. But the health care here has become a source of pride to our area. You no longer have to go to Vegas or SLC for most major medical problems. This area is very lucky to a facility that is as well run as this one is.
    I remember what health care was like here in the 80’s and 90’s. We are light years ahead of that now.
    I’m convinced that whichever mayoral candidate gets voted in, it won’t make much difference. Biggest difference will be who the faces of the “good old boys” are.

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