CEDAR CITY — In the Cedar City mayoral election, incumbent Maile Wilson-Edwards, seeking reelection to what would be her third term, is being challenged by longtime businessman Garth O. Green.
Ballots are expected to start arriving in mailboxes this week; voters have until Election Day on Nov. 2 to mark their choices and return their ballots.
Wilson-Edwards and Green are scheduled to appear at a moderated candidate forum on Oct. 19 at the Southern Utah University campus, starting at 7 p.m. For more information about the candidates and their positions on various issues, visit the respective websites of Maile Wilson-Edwards and Garth Green.
Cedar City News recently conducted separate telephone interviews with both mayoral candidates, asking each of them a few basic questions. Following are their responses, which have been condensed, paraphrased and/or edited for length and clarity.
Question 1: What made you decide to run for mayor and what are some of your top qualifications, in terms of abilities and experience?
Green said one of the main reasons he’s running for mayor is that people asked him to.
“I had never really aspired to it,” he said, “I always thought someday I ought to, but I had never really taken it very seriously.”
But then, he said, people started urging him to run for office.
“There were people I highly respected. My family, my children, my wife, community, leaders, politicians, business people … they started coming at me in a rather organized effort, apparently.
“So I said, ‘Well, I’ll look at it,” he added. “I went out and spent a little time looking at what I already knew and understood a little bit, which is water. And the first question I asked is, ‘What do we do with the wastewater?’”
Green said that when he learned how much wastewater was being wasted at the treatment plant, he decided to work on a solution to adapt the plant so that more of that water could be reused for landscaping and agriculture.
“I realized that I could make a contribution,” he said, citing his 30 years of experience in the plumbing industry, plus his work on water projects in several foreign countries.
Wilson-Edwards said she’s seeking a third term as mayor because she wants to continue serving the residents and businesses of Cedar City.
She also said she hopes to see several pending city projects through to completion.
“Last year, in 2020, with how bizarre that year was, there were a number of projects that we were working on that needed to get postponed,” she said, adding that work has since resumed or is expected to start again soon on several of them.
“And then, as our city continues to grow, we have both the challenges and opportunities that come along with growth,” Wilson-Edwards added. “I believe I’m best positioned, not only with my training in administration, budgets and law, but also with the knowledge of how to get projects through to completion with all the different partners that we need to work with.”
Question 2: What is one important or challenging issue that the city currently faces, and what are you doing or would you do to help solve it?
Green said the community’s biggest challenge is water.
“We’ve already been told by the State Water Resources that they intend to start canceling water rights they issued in the 1930s, 40s and 50s,” he said. “By 2070, if we don’t change things, they will have canceled 80% of the city’s water rights.
“I mean we can play all kinds of games with numbers and argue about everything,” Green said, referring to statistics that show declining aquifer water levels in Cedar Valley.
“We are overusing and over-allocating our aquifer, according to that,” he said, “The problem that I have with that is that I don’t believe it. And the reason I don’t believe it is because I think there are other sources of water in our basin.”
Green said there are numerous untapped water resources in the area, including springs up Cedar Canyon and in the mountains surrounding Cedar Breaks,
“We need to look everywhere,” he said. “We need to look at every avenue to this basin to find water. We need to bring water into this basin from places where there’s plenty of it, and where it doesn’t draw down the aquifer and doesn’t hurt it. When we rest those wells, we will give that aquifer a chance to stabilize.”
Wilson-Edwards said the city’s biggest issue is growth.
“It impacts every aspect of our lives in the city,” she said. “From maintaining infrastructure and planning for future needs, funding and completing major projects.”
Wilson-Edwards also said water plays a major role in planning for the community’s current and future needs..
“We look at water, and that is an issue that we will continue addressing going forward, and that has been a focus for the last number of years. You look at the different recharge (projects) and the partnerships that we have – all of that is going to need to continue into the future. We’re looking at city policies, our water acquisition policy, water rates and water conservation.”
“One key aspect with government is there are a lot of hoops, and there are all of these different agencies and regulations,” Wilson-Edwards continued. “It takes a very collaborative approach, and being willing to continue always pushing forward, and when one avenue doesn’t work, being willing to continue to pursue other options.”
The mayor added that it’s important to maintain an ongoing and healthy working relationship with other governmental agencies and entities.
“Because tomorrow there’ll be something new where we have to still collaborate and work together,” she added.
Question 3: Describe how you resolve differences or conflicts with other people.
The now-retired Green mentioned his decades of experience as the owner of a plumbing supply company and other businesses.
“I’ve been in business for 50 years. I’ve hired hundreds of employees,” he said. “They’re always difficulties in dealing with people.”
“There are times when conflicts are unresolvable,” he said, which usually ends up with someone leaving or quitting. “But I’ve had almost none of that in the 50 years I’ve been in business.”
Green said that generally speaking, people who’ve left his employ have done so in order to pursue better opportunities, “and not over any conflict with me.”
“We have a job to do.” he added. “It’s all business. I’m not a super sociable-type person. With me, it’s always been business. It’s always been worked out.”
Green said the key to working things out is to develop a working relationship of mutual respect.
“We just need to visit and talk and accept the fact that there are different ideas and learn from each other,” he said.
“My experience with the city staff, and the City Council, is that they are intelligent people who will respect another opinion,” he added. “I hope so. If they’re not, I’ll be quite surprised.”
Green said that as he’s attended City Council meetings lately, city staff has “bent over backwards to make sure I got everything I needed. And then, when we have conversations, they’re amiable and they’re intelligent. I find out stuff and they find out stuff. We talk about options and we look outside the box. And that’s what I do. I don’t expect to have big troubles with anybody.”
Wilson-Edwards said the key to resolving conflicts is being willing to listen.
“My approach, whether it is a resident, a business or an employee of the city, is to first sit down and listen,” she said.
“I think being able to talk is always better than texts, social media and emails,” she added. “Well, those communication methods have their place, but if there’s a problem, I think it’s always best to sit down and talk, because then you can ask for clarification. You don’t necessarily put your own spin or bias on whatever the written communication is. And so you sit down, listen, and then talk through the issues.
“That doesn’t always mean that you will agree, but it does mean that people know that they have been heard, and why or why not a decision is being made.”
Wilson-Edwards spoke of a recent example where a roundabout was initially planned for the intersection of Kitty Hawk Drive and Bulldog Road, but after a number of residents and business owners complained, UDOT officials reworked the plans to make it a T-intersection with a traffic light instead.
“The trucks they were modeling were different than the size of trucks that would actually be going through because of the industrial type area,” she recalled. “Neither (side) was necessarily wrong in their assumptions. But it just didn’t fit the needs of the area and the needs of what the project was. That’s a lot of what my job is, to get people together and talking, helping to work through those types of problems and issues. The goal is to make our city come out better and stronger on the other side.”
“When people have concerns, it’s making sure that their concerns are heard,” Wilson-Edwards said. “That doesn’t always mean that you can change or rearrange everything. But at least you’re letting people know why a decision is being made. Whether it’s what they want or not, just giving them that opportunity to express their concerns and be part of the process.”
Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 election by clicking here.
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