OPINION – The City of St. George municipal elections are behind us now and a hearty congratulations to the mayor-elect and City Council members-elect is warranted.
This was perhaps the most spirited and controversial election this city has ever seen.
The results may, in large part, reflect the courage and tenacity of an informed and involved citizenry who in large part said, “enough is enough.”
It is fair to assert that this holds especially true in the mayoral portion of this election because although Jon Pike was a fine candidate, it is generally conceded that longtime incumbent Dan McArthur was voted out based on a sense that his tenure as mayor had been long enough.
Although the statistical data is not solidified yet, the voter turnout was paltry once again, and while this is a point of contention to be dissected for sure, it might be indicative of genuine mindset of the community as a whole.
Pike won by a hefty margin. It is fair to consider that it was largely the same voter base from previous years that favored McArthur – who now contributed to his replacement.
Of course, this is speculation. But when one couples that speculation with the events that preceded November 5, it becomes reasonable.
The first major setback for the McArthur campaign was the animal shelter debacle. Time and time again we are reminded in politics that it is rarely the misgiving for which a politician is crucified but rather the ensuing coverup that gets them in political trouble.
In spite of a stellar acceptance of responsibility by the St. George Police and City Councilman Jon Pike, the mayor and his longtime friend and colleague, City Manager Gary Esplin, refused to be implicated in any way and went to great lengths to quash the story by allegedly intimidating citizens and reporters. What they failed to understand was that ultimately, the buck stopped with them. In their counter-accusations, blame shifting, and overall shifty antics they brought an already somewhat-critical eye of the community to fix itself upon them in a broader scope.
Then came the code enforcement lawsuit.
At present, the code enforcement division of the City of St. George is under some quite serious fire. It is being alleged that not only did they consistently violate Fourth Amendment rights in the enforcement of the codes, not only did they selectively enforce the code by citing citizens while elected officials were blatantly violating the codes, but perhaps most egregious of all, they ran a kangaroo court where defendants had an ice cube’s chance in Hades of ever prevailing – innocent or not.
Ultimately, as the executive branch of government, the mayor’s office is responsible for this and in light of these things, McArthur became the face of them whether he wanted to accept full responsibility or not.
It cost him the election.
But let’s turn now to the task at hand.
The election is over. Breathe a sigh of relief. Then roll up your sleeves St. George, there is more work to do.
What has effectively been dealt here is a crack in the dam of good ole boy politics in this town. Nonetheless, in order for nature to take its course, the pressure must be maintained.
Let’s clear something up.
There are two types of good ole boys:
The first is the type that has lineage dating back to pioneers who settled this great city with the blood and sweat of true American grit.
In the face of aridity and disenchantment they have stood fast and built a place to live that exemplifies the finest attributes of greatness in a community. Clean air. Abundant water. Good schools. Safe streets.
The second however is an aberration of the first, those who have convoluted pride in heritage into entitlement for a select and established few.
This second type must go. Period.
That is the message that was sent in this election.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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