Leavitt Center hosts first Cedar City council debate

For more information on the Cedar City Council Candidates from the June 28, 2017 Iron County Today click on the link below.



With a full house in the Starlight Room of the Sharwan Smith Student Center on the Southern Utah University campus, six Cedar City Council candidates took on their first debate.

With three weeks until the primary election, the debate took place as a hosted event by the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service at Southern Utah University.

Bruce Hughes and Scott Johnson

With about seven questions presented on issues including water, tourism, zoning and the Leagues of Cities and Towns, the council candidates were eager to present their views.

Throughout much of the debate, the candidates shared similar viewpoints on most of the topics including a consensus on city growth.

Among the things that the council candidates emphasized were Candidate Scott Johnson, Rainbow Sign and Banner, said he revitalizing the downtown and working on the expansion.

R. Scott Phillips, former executive director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, said his main focus is to revitalize

“I want our community to be a first-class community,” Phillips said. “We don’t have to be second class to anybody.”

Candidate Andrew McAffee, manager of Thunderbird Storage, said the effect of the city to be a Dark Sky City and keeping the city a great place to view the stars is important.  He also emphasized proper thought in zoning.

“We don’t want to have zoning that puts R1 housing next to high density, but growing in a way that best serves everyone,” he said.

Andrew Mcaffee and R. Scott Phillips

Bruce Hughes, a CPA in the community, said economic development is created by businesses that receive support from the local governing body. The government’s role is to offer its support to help new and current businesses be successful.

“When they’re willing to invest, we need to be willing to help them accomplish their goals,” the longtime accountant said. “That’s how we foster economic development.”

Hughes’ view on water is that it will require effort from all stakeholders to conserve water, not just the Cedar City Council or residential users. More than 80 percent of the water is used for agriculture.

“As a city, we are pretty much maxed out in capacity because of growth in the water we have for residential use,” Hughes said. “We need to plan for those things. Drilling new wells, having the capacity and working with all of the stakeholders who are involved is they key to solving this problem.”

Phillips expressed his gratitude to the current council and Iron County Water Conservancy District for the work on conserving water. He continued to emphasize roads and sewer systems to be a top priority to create a place where families want to work and live.

Candidate views differed when it came to the current council’s support of the Utah League of Cities and Towns.  Macaffee said he was on the fence because he didn’t know all the information on the topic, Johnson, understood the merits of the organization, and he questioned why the council opted not to make their disappointment known when the State Auditor’s

Ron Adams and Rich Gillette

Office determined the lobbying group had misused funds

Ron Adams, who serves on the council, said he felt the league serves well and despite the actions of individuals within the league, that they are worth investing money in.

“Did they misuse some funds evidently?” Adams questions. “They did, but I don’t fault the entire organization for a couple of individuals who misused it.

Realator Rich Gillette said he understood the re-zoning issue for more housing for students at Southern Utah University.

He said each decision needs to be made in a way that accommodates both the residents and the university. Adams and McAffee shared a similar view – as long as the project meets the standards of the city and the needs of the area.

Phillips said the question of re-zoning was not a simple yes or no because each situation is different. 

“As a whole, I think we need to follow the general plan of the city,” he said. “Very smart people have worked a lot of hours in developing how our community should look, where people should live and where businesses should be mixed. I think we can’t just abandon that when something comes up.”

The primary election is Aug. 15, where the six will be cut to four. Mail-in ballots were sent out July 18 and need to be postmarked by August 14.

The two mayoral candidates – incumbent Maile Wilson and Cedar Middle School teacher Ryan Durfee – will debate on Oct. 17 prior to general election on Nov. 7.

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