St George City Council Final Debate

November 2, 20230

Last night (11/2/2023) was the final debate for the St. George City Council. It was held at the university formally known as “Dixie State University”. Attached, you will find the full audio, streamed from 1450 AM.

Here is a timeline you will find in the recording:

00:04:07 Jimmie Hughes Introduction
00:06:12 Paula Smith Introduction
00:08:22 Danielle Larkin Introduction
00:10:35 Steven Kemp Introduction
00:12:50 Brad Bennett Introduction
00:15:26 Question 1, part 1, “Environment Sustainability”

“What initiatives would you support to foster environment sustainability in St. George, such as renewable energy and water conservation”

00:15:43 Jimmie Hughes Answer
00:17:01 Paula Hughes Answer
00:17:52 Danielle Larkin Answer
00:19:43 Brad Response
00:20:10 Question 1, part 2

“How do you plan to address the challenges water conservation and ensure long term resilience of the city”

00:20:28 Steve Kemp Answer
00:21:50 Brad Bennett Answer
00:23:16 Question 2, part 1, “City Development And Planning”

“What is your vision for the future development of St. George, and how do you plan to balance that economic growth with our cities character and natural resources?”

00:23:44 Paula Smith Answer
00:24:41 Danielle Larkin Answer
00:26:23 Question 2, part 2

“How do you plan to address the housing affordability challenges in St. George while maintaining the quality of life for all residents?”

00:26:43 Steve Kemp Answer
00:28:26 Brad Bennett Answer
00:30:07 Jimmie Hughes Answer
00:31:38 Question 4, part 1, “Community Engagement And Inclusivity”

“How would you encourage community engagement, and  ensure that all residents voices, including the underrepresented groups, are heard and represented in the decision making process”

00:32:09 Danielle Larkin Answer
00:33:48 Steve Kemp Answer
00:35:25 Brad Bennett Answer
00:37:04 Question 4, part 2

“What steps would you take to foster a more inclusive and welcoming community for all residents of St. George, including LGBTQ+?”

00:37:31 Jimmie Hughes Answer
00:39:11 Paula Smith Answer
00:39:49 Question 5, part 1, “Public Safety”

“What measures would you take to enhance public safety in St. George, including crime prevention, emergency preparedness, and community policing?”

00:40:20 Steve Kemp Answer
00:41:58 Brad Bennett
00:43:28 Jimmie Hughes Answer
00:45:16 Question 5, part 2

“How would you approach the issue of mental health and substance abuse in relation to public safety”

00:45:33 Paula Smith Answer
00:46:22 Jimmie Hughes rebuttal
00:47:07 Danielle Larkin Answer
00:48:54 Question 6, part 1, “Infrastructure and Transportation”

“What steps do you believe should be taken to improve the cities infrastructure, including roads, public transportation, parks and transportation”

00:49:16 Brad Bennett Answer
00:50:42 Danielle Larkin Answer
00:51:07 Jimmie Hughes Answer
00:52:32 Paula Smith Answer
00:53:53 Jimmie Hughes rebuttal
00:55:04 Brad Bennett rebuttal
00:55:22 Jimmie Hughes rebuttal
00:55:40 Danielle Larson rebuttal
00:56:25 Paula Smith rebuttal
00:57:02 Question 6, part 2

“How would you promote alternative transportation options such as biking and walking, to reduce traffic congestion and promote a healthier community”

00:57:25 Danielle Larkin Answer
00:59:16 Steve Kemp Answer

01:01:01 Brad Bennett Closing
01:03:11 Steve Kemp Closing
01:05:25 Danielle Larkin Closing
01:07:46 Paula Smith Closing
01:09:50 Jimmie Hughes Closing


My analysis:

The questions for this “debate” were in no way submitted by college students, and were extremely slanted towards particular ideologies.

I found Jimmie Hughes’s responses at 00:16:12 and 00:16:22 to be extremely disingenuous. While you, as a member of the city council, may not have openly talked about a future tax, or shut down public comment, other members of the council have, specifically the mayor. I’m glad Brad called you out for not defending the rights of the public to speak at 00:19:43. Also, the discussion of public safety, and dipping into the “rainy day fund” at 00:43:28 to pay for the commitments to public safety I found contradictory. If funding public safety is job one, why did we need to pay for it on the back end from the rainy day fund?

On the discussion about the Zions Bus Route, at 00:53:53, how will the Zions Bus Route, created specifically for tourists to lower the congestion on Springdale help St. George? Is the added infrastructure worth the millions of dollars to be subsidized by the city after the federal and state dollars end?

Most of Danielle Larkin’s “answers” never actually answered the question at hand. At 00:17:52, she never said what she would do in the future to foster sustainability, just talked about what had been done in her first term. Same when talking about her vision for future development at 009:24:41. And again, on community engagement at 00:32:09, she gave no plans for the future, only what has been done in the past, and mainly by other groups in the community. The only real answer for the future was at the end of her answer about mental health at 00:47:07, and the need for a full time mental health counselor, but never talked about plans for creating and filling that position.

Also, Danielle’s dig to Paula at 00:55:40 was extremely weak. I’m glad she came back with a great response at 00:56:25.

I found Danielle’s answer to transportation at 00:57:25 to be incredibly insulting. Only people who sit in privilege will talk about a bus route we didn’t ask for? Or even need? And then to use that as a segue into holistic transportation in St. George. Guilt us for questioning, and use that guilt to foster your world view about something totally different.

During Danielle’s closing (01:05:25), she talked about all the she learned in the last four years about the community and people of St. George? Wouldn’t you have learned any of that during you years on the Zoning and Planning Commission? Also, on the “defamatory and derogatory notes”, from the images I’ve seen of them posted on social media, aren’t they just a recitation of what you’ve said and voted on while on City Council, all a part of public record? I guess that’s why you’ve found this campaign cycle “the most ugly city council campaign in the history of St. George”.

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