St. George City Council candidate debate, congressional forum to be staged at Utah Tech

ST. GEORGE — Utah Tech University will play host to City Council and congressional candidates this November for a debate and forum as Election Day nears.

R-L: St. St. George City Council candidates Jimmie Hughes, Dannielle Larkin, Paula Smith, Brad Bennett and Steve Kemp, Aug. 10, 2023 | Hughes and Bennett photos courtesy of their campaigns, other photos by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Sponsored by the Washington County Debate Coalition, a debate for St. George City Council candidates has been set for Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre in the Eccles Fine Arts Center on the Utah Tech campus.

A meet and greet with the candidates will be held at 6 p.m.

There are three council seats up for grabs this year, with incumbents Dannielle Larkin and Jimmie Hughes running for reelection while challengers Steve Kemp, Brad Bennett and Paula Smith seek a spot on the council as well.

One of the sought-after council seats was held by incumbent Gregg McArthur, who recently withdrew from the race due to responsibilities with his employment that increasingly divided time between serving the city and spending time with his family.

McArthur’s departure makes way for at least one fresh face on the City Council once the election concludes.

The council debate will be moderated by Chuck Goode.

The following week, Utah Tech’s Institute of Politics will partner with the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce to host the congressional forum at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, in the M.K. Cox Performing Arts Center, also on the Utah Tech campus.

The forum will feature Republican candidate Celeste Maloy and Democratic candidate Kathleen Riebe. They are running to replace former Republican Congressman Chris Stewart, who left office Sept. 15.

(L-R): Utah 2nd Congressional District candidates Celeste Maloy (Republican) and Kathleen Riebe (Democrat) | Maloy photo by Jeff Richards / Riebe photo courtesy of the Utah State Senate, St. George News

Stewart announced his resignation from office earlier this year, citing undisclosed health concerns related to his wife as the reason. This led to the Utah Governor’s Office and Legislature rescheduling the dates of the state’s primary and general election in order to accommodate a special election for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

Held in a discussion format, the forum will be moderated by Vince Brown, chair of the Washington County Debate Coalition, who will have one-on-one conversations with each candidate about the issues that matter to the residents of Southern Utah. He also will solicit questions from the public.

Lesa Sandberg and Chuck Goode, the chairs of the Washington County Republic and Democrat parties, respectively, have voiced their excitement for the coming congressional candidate forum.

“In Congressional District 2, Washington County represents nearly one-third of the voters eligible to vote in this special election,” Sandberg said. “It is highly likely that we will be the deciding factor in the race. We are glad that the candidates recognize the importance of education and campaigning to voters in our area … Celeste has the experience, knowledge and service record to represent Southern Utah and CD2.”

“We are extremely excited to attend an upcoming forum featuring Kathleen Riebe, candidate for Congressional District 2,” Goode said. “With a proven track record in the Utah State Senate and a relentless dedication to education and community growth, Kathleen Riebe is ready to take her passion and determination to the national stage.”

About the Washington County Debate Coalition

The Washington County Debate Coalition, which is comprised of Utah Tech’s Institute of Politics, local media companies, the major political parties, interest groups and local academics, is sponsoring the debate to help inform local voters.

“When we first started the coalition, with help from all of our members, my desire was to bring spirited debate to Washington County,” Brown said in a press release. “We want our voters to be as informed as possible when making their voting decisions. Several years later, it thrills me to see these debates as a staple of political life in Washington County.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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