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The Southwest Utah Bureau is based in the St. George area, and the reporting focuses on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues, faith and spirituality and other topics of relevance to Utahns.

St. George mayoral candidates agree on a lot, but say they have different styles of management and backgrounds

St. George mayoral debate
Lexi Peery
St. George mayoral candidates Michele Randall and Jimmie Hughes debate at Dixie State University on Tuesday. The event was hosted at Dixie State University by the newly-formed Southern Utah Debate Commission.

Mail-in ballots are expected to be sent out soon and Election Day is Nov. 2.

St. George mayoral and city council candidates “debated” the well-known issues of the area — growth, water, the Dixie name change and housing Tuesday night. Though the candidates didn’t differ much on their stances on the topics.

But what current St. George Mayor Michele Randall thinks makes her stand out from her opponent, city councilmember Jimmie Hughes, is her management style and availability.

“I do have the time to do this,” Randall said following the debate about her opponent who owns a local mortuary. “[Hughes] says he can do it and he has the time, but … a mortuary business is a 24-7 gig. … Nobody knows how time consuming this job is. I didn't know until I was thrown into it.”

Randall is vying to become the first woman elected to lead the city, after being appointed to the spot in January of this year. She received nearly half of the vote in the primaries, and Hughes followed behind with just over 27%.

Randall got emotional thinking of her pioneer ancestors and what it would mean for her to be the first woman elected to serve in the position.

“My great great great grandparents were one of the first 309 families to come here, and it makes me emotional because I bet they never thought when they were here suffering through the heat and all of the adversity that was here that their great great great granddaughter would someday be the first female mayor,” she said. “That makes my heart kind of burst because it is my heritage.”

Hughes, who is also a cattle rancher, stated several times he has the time to serve as mayor. He also said he has a variety of job experiences that Randall doesn’t.

“I'm a current business owner. I've had a lot of experience. I've lived in different places. I'm a St George kid,” he said after the debate. “I bring all the best of all the worlds [and] a level of understanding that I don't think she has. I think I'm the most well-versed candidate all across the board.”

Randall and Hughes both served on the city council together until Randall’s appointment. Hughes said the biggest and most important issue St. George is looking at is the city's booming population.

“Our tremendous growth presents so many challenges and we just have to keep working on that,” Hughes said. “We don't want to lose who we are with that growth. We need to plan ahead.”

Four St. George City Council candidates also debated earlier in the night. They talked about similar topics and discussed the importance of unity and liberty.

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