More than 60 candidates file for municipal offices in Sanpete County

 

John Hales

Staff writer

6-15-2017

 

MANTI—Following the filing deadline last week, 61 candidates are running for mayor or city council seats in Sanpete County’s 13 municipalities, with the general election set for Nov. 7.

Only two Sanpete locales—Mt. Pleasant and Spring City—will need to hold primary elections, scheduled for Aug. 15, providing there are no dropouts before then.

On Primary Election Day, Mt. Pleasant residents will winnow three candidates for mayor to two. The contenders are Sandra Bigler, who is running for a second, though not consecutive, term; Todd M. Horn; and Dan R. Simons.

And Spring City residents on will eliminate one of five candidates now vying for two seats on the city council.

At the state level, while there will be a lot of news and talk about the special election on Aug. 15 to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah’s 3rd U.S. Congressional District, Sanpete residents need not pay too much attention. Sanpete is outside of the 3rd District, being split between the 2nd and 4th Districts.)

There are some notable things that appear (or don’t appear, as the case may be) on the final list of candidates released last week by the Sanpete County Clerk’s Office.

In Mt. Pleasant, for example, the absence of Dave Blackham’s name as an incumbent candidate for mayor is conspicuous, especially given the energy and vociferousness of his campaign four years ago against Jeff McDonald.

His first cited reason for declining to seek a second term was health. He said he is suffering from back and knee problems, which would require him to be “an absent mayor” through some surgeries and recuperation.

He has said he also thinks as a private citizen, though still a volunteer and activist, he can better help shepherd to completion some of the projects the city started during his administration.

But, he admitted, his non-declaration for mayor is an early declaration of sorts for a different office.

“My future in public service requires me to stand back,” Blackham said. “I love and I’ll miss the city. But I thought it would be an ideal time for me to look to the future.”
Sanpete County Commissioner Claudia Jarrett, Blackham said, has intimated that she may not seek another term. “I might set my sights on that particular position,” he said.

Earlier, Blackham had said he wouldn’t leave the city unless he felt it would be in good hands. “I feel really good about our united council,” he said.

That’s different from when he was first elected, when Mt. Pleasant garnered even statewide media attention because of the division and contention in its government. It’s what drove Blackham’s predecessor, Sandra Bigler, from office.

“I just can’t take the contention anymore,” Bigler said in 2013. “If it wasn’t so hectic, I would have been like [former Mayor Chesley Christensen] almost, and died here.” The fact that Bigler will again be on the ballot suggests that things are much better in Mt. Pleasant.

Bigler isn’t the only candidates seeking to return to municipal government after a period of absence.

Longtime Ephraim City Councilman Don Olson is dusting off his public-service shoes for a run at the mayor’s office—shoes that his opponent, incumbent Mayor Richard Squire referred to just as he was taking office.

“I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Squire said as mayor-elect in December 2013, during an open house to bid farewell to Olson, who was leaving the council, and then-Mayor David Parrish, who also was leaving.

Gunnison’s Lori Nay is another candidate who at one time sounded as if she was finished with city government but who now wants another shot.

In 2013, at the end of one term as mayor, Nay said she had accomplished more and helped her city progress “more than most people see in a lifetime.”

“I really feel like I accomplished what I set out to do, so it was time to move on,” she said at the time.

The Gunnison mayoral race between Nay and Councilman Blake Donaldson will be interesting and potentially contentious. During the last couple years of Nay’s term, she at times faced stiff opposition from certain members of the city council; often, it was Donaldson who led the opposition.

The list of candidates also features a good number of fresh names who should bring new perspectives to local government chambers beginning in 2018.