January 4, 2018, marked the swearing in of the new Hildale Mayor and City Council Members. This was a historic occasion for the City of Hildale, marking several important milestones. It will go down in history as the first swearing-in ceremony for female Mayor Donia Jessop, and Council Member Maha Layton. Additionally, it marks the first time non-FLDS church members have held positions in city government.
The event had well over 100 people in attendance and was moved from the original location at the City Hall to the elementary school across the street to accommodate the crowd. There was standing room only. The mood was jovial and emotional as the candidates took their places for the swearing-in and spectators took their seats to witness the event.
They opened and closed the ceremony with musical numbers performed by local musicians Becka Jessop, Phil Mackert and others. City Manager Raymond Barlow officiated and performed the oath of office to each of the new members and mayor. As the oath of office was administered, each of the new council members offered words of appreciation to the community and their families.
JVar Dutson was the first to take the oath, saying afterward, “We want to open a new door of working together with our community and with every one of you.” Jared Nicol was the next to take the oath and offered words of appreciation, reflecting on his experiences with the people that he has come to know and love. “I am grateful that I am here. I am grateful that all of you are here. We’re a great support for one another and we can do great things,” he said. Maha Layton spoke of her gratitude for family and community. She stated, “It really, truly, takes all of us to make this happen. So, I want to thank you for your active engagement in voting, getting registered to vote, and coming out tonight.” She went on to stress the importance of everyone maintaining an active role in the governance of the city.
Mayor Donia Jessop was the last to take the oath. She expressed thanks to all who were assembled, her family, and numerous others. “My goal is to create community. We can all come together under the community banner. We can still have our different beliefs. We can have whatever we want, and still come together as a community and celebrate.” She continues, “In the end, we all come from the same dirt.”