COLORADO CITY – On Tuesday, 28 August 2018, Colorado City, Arizona will enjoy an open primary election for town council. Traditionally dominated by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), Colorado City administration could govern and believe very differently, come November.
Candidates include: Brooke M. Barlow; Freeman Barlow; Parley Barlow; Sham Barlow; Kendall Pipkin; Jason Black (also on the Utility Board); Alma Hammon; Jeffery Jessop (incumbent); Donald Richter (incumbent); Joanne Shapley (incumbent); and Marion Timpson.
If any candidate secures over 50 percent of the vote in the primary, they automatically win or maintain a seat on the council. The council will vote on a mayor from among council members once elected in November.
Polling will be at Mohave Community College until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 28 August, and voters must provide a non-PO box proof of address to vote. Voters should be aware, If their driver’s license has a PO box address, they should bring along a piece of mail to prove residency.
The three incumbents, Jeffery Jessop, Donald Richter, and Joanne Shapley, all FLDS representitives, have not visibly campaigned, nor have they shown to community-organized town hall events to share their vision for the future. However, openly-campaigning candidates have publicly expressed a wide variety of approaches to governance.
Lowering or maintaining tax rates is a popular flag to wave for many voters in Short Creek, while solidifying progressive planning and zoning maps is a constant talking point among developers, landowners, and business owners. Both groups are well-heard among candidates.
Controversially, annexation of nearby Centennial Park and Cane Beds has been spouted by all visible candidates as an inevitability. Light pollution control (or alternately, the darkness of side streets) and ludicrous rate hike proposals by the “nonprofit” Twin City Water Works are also on the tip of voters’ minds and tongues.
Next week, the public has one more chance to question candidates before the field narrows. A final town hall before the primary election is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on Monday, 27 August at Cottonwood Park.
Effectiveness of candidates’ messages vary. Light on details in public appearances, citizens have relayed fears about a lack of knowledge and tangible plans by some candidates. Real concerns remain around some “evolving campaigns” seeking to “represent you, the people.”
Economic stressors stemming from an expensive legal appeal over a 2017 injunction (which Hildale has decided not to appeal, while Colorado City continues to fight) and communication issues between the prolific UEP Trust and city administration remain largely unknown to the public. While development of local employment opportunities is a popular narrative in town halls, no clear economic picture has been illustrated.
Until an informational 23 August meeting, sponsored by Hildale administration and attended by six candidates (Shem, Brooke, Parley, and Freeman Barlow, Kendall Pipkin, and Marion Timpson), specifics about alarming utility and infrastructure issues also went unexplored, at least publicly.
While the details may be fuzzy for candidates presently, the desire for change is real in Short Creek. Candidates are openly calling for an ouster of a seemingly theocratic leadership, with Marion Timpson suggesting the candidates, “overthrow, abolish, and start over” the municipality from scratch. Applause and agreement radiated from the twilit Cottonwood Park crowd of roughly 150 last week.
In all, this election season promises to be an exciting one. Change seems likely, though remains uncertain. This Editor encourages all to exercise their right to vote on Tuesday and again in November if they wish to see real change in the community.
Despite my personal misgivings about some details, I feel optimistic about all new candidates running. Council members willing to listen and serve all citizens equitably is a privilege I took for granted in my old home, and is a need I will never overlook in my new one. Happy election season!