4 candidates to run for Parowan City Mayor, 5 for city council

Parowan City prepares for its primary elections with four candidates vying for mayor and five for city council.

By Holly Coombs


Dennis Gaede

Dennis Gaede said he decided to run for mayor because he enjoys giving back to the community and feel that many of his personal concerns coincide with many of the citizens.’

“My vision for Parowan City is; A solid financial Base, harmony between all City employees, Improvement of City infrastructure within financial budget, as well as esthetically improving Parowan and enabling the citizens to be proud of our beautiful little City,” Gaede said.

He said he would like the public to know that he has an unconditional love for Parowan and he is committed and hard-working.

“Being that I am retired, I will have plenty of time to focus on what Parowan City needs,” he said.  “Most of my children, grandchildren, and great-grand children reside here, and I feel the utmost importance in passing on our heritage and family values to our future generations.”

Gaede said he feels the most important duty of the mayor is to be a genuine active liaison between the concerns of the citizens and city departments.

“I feel the biggest concern for the improvement of Parowan City is to have financial stability, which will catalyze and generate open lines of communication between Parowan Citizens and City Officials,” he said.

Don Landes

Up for re-election, current Parowan City Mayor Don Landes, said Parowan is the Mother Town of southern Utah and that implies it is a special place filled with special people. 

“We recognize and appreciate the place Parowan occupies in the history of the State of Utah,” Landes said. “It was with this thought in mind that everything we have been involved in the past eight years was to maintain that visibility and to encourage sustainable growth.”

He said that because of the limited amount of revenue, the city has had to be and should always be careful with what public funds and what the city has to work with. 

“Sometimes we just don’t have the funds and must look to grants in order to accomplish some of our needs,” Landes said. “Parowan is not just a place where we sleep and eat.  It is a place where we grow and raise our families.  It is a place where we enjoy our parks and our theater.  It is a place that has a vision for the future.”

Landes said the office of the mayor of Parowan has been both an exciting and humbling experience.  Many times, it has also been frustrating but always moving forward, he said.

“The next four years are filled with a myriad of potential problems,” Landes said. “We do not know the extent of the damage the Brian Head fire has left us.”

He said the city is faced with unbelievable change in the energy area that could have major impact on our power company, and how we acquire power in the future and at what cost.

“The future is changing right before our eyes,” Landes said.  “The next administration must be ever diligent to potential change and be prepared to deal with that change.  We have a great and hardworking staff that need our support and appreciation for all that they do.  We can rely on them to adjust to whatever needs to be done to keep the city of Parowan running smoothly.”

Steve Thayer

Steve Thayer, a current city council member, is also running for mayor.  Thayer said his priorities includes maintaining all existing assets, including city employees as the most important.

“By spending time in each department, I hope to understand the challenges of our work force and hopefully boost morale,” he said. “At 67, I am partially retiring at year’s end allowing the time needed to serve,” he said. “New challenges face our community because of the recent fire, such as interruptions in pressurized irrigation water and potential flooding. Some of these challenges may last for years.”

Thayer said his vision for Parowan includes bringing more dollars to downtown by working with the Chamber of Commerce and the events coordinator to more fully promote the ball fields, parks, trails, and fairgrounds. “Attracting more tourism is essential for our community; however, local dollars as well as tourist dollars are needed,” he said. “If our community would earnestly get behind a project like they did for the Valentines Peak ball fields to promote more tourism or benefit the youth, I would support it.”

Thayer said his experience as a member of the city council has brought him an education on what is important in the city.

 “It is not easy to maintain our amenities with our population size and corresponding small tax base, such as the library, pool, fairgrounds, airport, roads, cemetery, police department, theater, parks, and trails,” he said. “My council experience has been invaluable as we have planned as a council to keep our various enterprise funds self-sustaining with surpluses, including the culinary water, irrigation water, sold waste, sewer, and electrical. I am fiscally conservative and believe we should limit debt and operate as efficiently as possible.”

Thayer said he and his wife of 42 years, Bonnie, four of his five children, eleven grandchildren, and one great grandchild live in Iron County.

“I have successfully operated a drilling business since 1980 and since 1993 in southern Utah,” he said. “My career refined many skills, such as problem solving, money management, and government and public interaction. Businesses require a lot of dedication, hard work, and common sense. I would be honored to give Parowan of my time and experience to serve as your mayor.”

Preston Griffiths

Former Parowan City Police Chief Preston Griffiths is also seeking the spot for Parowan City Mayor.

As citizens of Parowan, my wife Marcy and I have spent most of our lives in Parowan,” Griffiths said.  “We have been married for 23 years and have three children.  I served on the Parowan City Police Department for 21 years, nine of those years I was the Chief of Police.  We have shared a love for and have a vested interest in our community.  Parowan is where we hope to continue to live.”

He said he has had the opportunity to talk daily with many residents of Parowan and listen to the concerns they have.

“They are voicing the same concerns that I have, some of which are, debt, roads, aging infrastructure and unnecessary projects which add to the indebtedness of the citizens,” Griffiths said.

“My vision for the city would include, keeping our unique traditions alive and supporting the quality of life we have here.  The main function of City Government is to provide and maintain the infrastructure.”

He said a mayor should be courteous and respectful, listening to the concerns and suggestions that people bring to the Mayor.  

“He should act as a liaison between the City Council and the citizens,” Griffiths said.


Patti Vesely

Patti Vesely was voted in by the current city council to take over former member Jay Orton’s spot as he left his position more than a month ago because of employment obligations.

Vesely ran for city council with the desire to stay in long term.

“To be honest, I actually decided to run for office after reading an article in the (Iron CountyToday) publication,” Vesely said.  “The article was about the ‘Best Small Towns in the Country’ Parowan was included in that list, in fact ranked 2nd in the nation.”

She said after reading the article, she felt a sense of pride on hearing the information and that there was a need to give back to the community and help to preserve the lifestyle that is enjoyed in Parowan.

“My goals are quite simple,” Vesely said.  “I would like to see transparency and fiscal responsibility high on our priority list.  I want to see accessibility for all citizens who are interested in contributing in the process.”

She said she taught Special Education for 30 years and have a Master of Administration Degree.

“I have been a resident of Parowan for over 15 years,” Vesely said. “I have been very active and have held elected positions in many organizations over the years; including PTO, PTSO, Community Council and Parowan’s Branding Committee.”

Vesely said she is an avid community volunteer and actively supports the events that take place in the community.

“I strongly encourage community interaction with the Council and sustain an open-door policy,” she said.

Vesely said management and morale of city employees is one of the most important issues.

“We need leadership and consistency in all departments which would include clear and defined responsibilities for each,” she said. “We have exceptional employees that we need to capitalize on, as well as acknowledge their efficiency and expertise.”

Feeling that her time on the council already being rewarding, Vesely said she has learned the advantages

Of thorough research, investigation, and assessment of each item that comes before the Council, which allows her to make informed decisions. 

“This time has educated me on the importance of representing my City,” she said.  “City Council is an important job, but only as important as the people it serves.”

Jim Harris

Jim Harris, a long-time resident and graduate of Parowan High School said he loves the place that is his hometown.

“Parowan has been my hometown since 1965,” Harris said. “ I spent 30 years working in Las Vegas, but always considered Parowan my home, and I love being home.  I have forty years of experience in residential and commercial construction:  ground-up construction consisting of onsite and offsite work and a knowledge of all aspects of that construction.  As I go about my activities in the city, I see an opportunity to help Parowan City organize and schedule greater use of our resources.”

Harris’s vision is to see Parowan to be neat, clean, friendly and well-kept.

“Parowan City can’t afford all special projects while many of the facilities that we have need to be maintained properly,” he said. “The citizenry needs to be informed of city projects, utility expenses – loss and profit, and the feasibility of projects to save tax dollars as well as out of pocket dollars.”

Harris, 67, served two years in the United States Marine Corps and worked 40 plus years in the school of hard knocks.

“I have worked hard and know the rewards of hard work and doing it right,” he said. “I am a husband, a father, and grandpa, and am proud of my heritage.”

Fiscal responsibility and a pride in work are paramount, are Harris’s concerns of the city.

“We should have a smile on our face when we tell people that we are from Parowan, Utah,” he said. “And that comes from a personal pride in our city: its appearance; its friendliness, its uniqueness; and its financial self-reliance.  We need to have a friendly relationship between city and citizens.”

Jim Shurtleff

Jimmy Shurtleff, a Parowan resident for 37 years, has taught at Parowan High School for 27 years. He is married with four children.

I have served on several city committees and boards,” he said.  “I served in the U.S. Marine Corps and I am a life member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. I love Parowan and I am just trying to help keep it the great place that it is.”

Shurtleff said there are many reasons he chose to run for city council, but the most important reason he said is that he “really loves Parowan and I thought that I might be able to help someday.”

The city council is the legislative body of city government, I think that the council needs to focus on that task and provide overall direction to the Mayor and City Manager,” he said. “We need to ensure that ordinances are enforced or if need be, eliminated. We need to support and utilizes the skills and expertise of our city staff.”

Shurtleff said balancing the needs and desires of the community with the available resources is one of the biggest concerns he has in the city.

Also, encouraging economic growth while maintaining the things that make Parowan unique and special,” he said.

Nate Thayer

Nate Thayer, said his mother’s side of the family helped settle Parowan and he moved his family there in 1992.
I own and operate Irongate Custom Homes based here in Parowan and my firm builds many homes here and throughout the county,” Nate Thayer said.  “I’m a member of the Parowan Chamber of Commerce and I have been president of the Iron County Home Builders Association in 2016, and still hold a seat on their board.”

He said he is on the board of directors for the Utah State Builders Association.

“My business dealings have given me the opportunity to work with many of our state representatives and I will use those connections to further Parowan’s interests,” Nate Thayer said.  “I have been a member of the Parowan Volunteer Fire Dept. since 2009.”

He said his plans for time on the city council is to develop a management plan with the city manager.

“I want to reduce work load and overtime of city employees by setting a maintenance schedule for all current infrastructure,” Nate Thayer said. “This most definitely includes roads. I’m positive that with firmer management our city departments can cut waste, be more efficient, and cost effective. Our city staff does a tremendous job and I will work to help the city manager set schedules, make plans for maintenance, and reduce the burden of administration on our city staff so they can focus on keeping Parowan the great place it is.”

He said he wants to do all in his power to stop needless spending  and not vote for large recreational projects while our infrastructure crumbles around us and while we hold numerous large bonds on recent major projects. “As many residents know, the power fund is Parowan’s cash machine and I will help get each department self-sustaining without reliance on power fund money,” Nate Thayer said.  “That being said I want to improve Parowan and am open to any ideas. I’d like to improve our ATV trail system and parks, and encourage growth.”

He said as a member of the Parowan City Council, he won’t hesitate to make tough decisions.

I understand the value of every dollar paid into the city coffers by Parowan citizens and I will spend them carefully and reluctantly,” Nate Thayer said. “As your city councilman, I will be a loud voice for responsible spending, maintaining infrastructure and encouraging growth.”

Sharon Downey

Sharon Downey, said she has heard many concerns from citizens about spending and her desire to serve on the council will be to heard citizen concerns and encourage people to speak out.

“It’s sad to go to council and see only about five people there,” Downey said. “This is your town and there are concerns that people need to get their voice out for.”

She said she will encourage that money is spent in important ways within the city to bring great improvement.

Downey said Parowan has become a great part of her life and she wants others to feel the importance of being involved in the government and keeping it as a great place to live.

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