HILDALE, Utah (ABC4) – Like many other cities in Southern Utah, Hildale is growing, and choosing the next mayor is an important step in the city’s future.
Hildale City sits on the border of Utah and Arizona, neighboring Colorado City. It was once home to followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, only about 10% of FLDS followers live here, according to incumbent Donia Jessop, saying a lot has changed since the arrest of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, especially with the United Effort Plan or UEP.
“Property values have gone way up, the community looks way better, it’s beautiful, fences are coming down, homes are being finished,” says Jessop.
Jessop left the FLDS church before becoming mayor four years ago. She says she’s evolved since Jeffs’ arrest and that’s what she wants Hildale to continue doing.
“The demographics have changed, we have a completely different group of people that live here, the goals are different, we’re not religiously goal-oriented,” says Jessop.
Her focus is economic development, accessible education, housing for the growing workforce, and water which currently contains radium.
“The number one priority for the next four years will be the water system, we have got to change that around and get the fresh spring water in our taps and use the well water to water our lands,” she says.
Jim Barlow is running against Jessop. He says he’s lived in Hildale his whole life and believes his extensive business background could benefit the city as it continues to grow and diversify.
“I worked in Los Angeles for 12 years and about 10 years in Phoenix, and I have no problem with ethnicity or what people believe in as long as there honest and decent people, that’s what makes the difference,” says Barlow.
Barlow says his goals are addressing the water issue, creating more opportunities for potential business owners and separating from the UEP Trust.
“I think there needs to be a complete audit of the trust, and the reason I talk about the trust is because it’s connected to the city, it controls the city, politics should be totally separate from somebody’s church, somebody’s trust,” he says.
Jessop and Barlow say they are excited to see tonight’s results and for the future of the city, despite the outcome.