Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards and Garth Green competed in the final Cedar City mayoral debate on Oct. 26 in the Hunter Conference Center.
Executive Council Members Julia Last and Ella Gambill from Southern Utah University’s Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service moderated the debate.
The candidates’ opening statements covered topics regarding representing Cedar’s Indigenous constituency, job opportunities for SUU graduates and business growth.
Wilson-Edwards opened the discussion by detailing what the role of the mayor is. She clarified that her position entails being the liaison between the community and the city government.
“The mayor needs to be at the forefront in representing the city’s wants and needs,” she said. “I prepare the budget for the city and meet with policy members and congressional representatives to get more funding.”
Green responded that he has never been in a political position, but from his work experience he believes he is able to see politics in an unorthodox manner and do a good job.
“I have many years of experience in business and banking so I am a can-do sort of person,” Green said. “I will use the vision and leadership abilities I developed within the 50 years I worked in the private sector to benefit the community.”
The first question that was asked to the candidates was how they would represent the Indigenous community, specifically the Paiute Tribe, if they take office.
Green promised to serve all citizens residing in Cedar City. The mayoral challenger stated that “he doesn’t care if you have been here for a certain amount of time” and that all communities within Cedar city deserve to be recognized.
“They were probably the first to be here,” Green said. “I grew up around them and consider them people like anyone else.”
Wilson-Edwards expounded on the unique relationship between the Paiute Tribe and Cedar City.
“How many communities can you say have a tribe within its city limits,” Wilson-Edwards said. “We need to continue to cultivate this relationship by educating the community on the services the tribe has to offer and vice versa.”
The debate turned more personal when Last and Gambill asked each candidate a specific question that pertained to them.
“There is a billboard for your campaign with a group of African children and yourself printed on it,” Gambill explained about Green. She then asked, “Did you receive consent to use this photo and is it ethical to use it?”
Green explained that this photo was taken during his time serving in Africa on a water project where he brought the community water they could drink without issues.
“I don’t think you understand what it’s like to go to a village where you gather water from a mudhole,” Green said. “If they are unable to bring water home, grandma and baby will die so the best thing we could do was help them bring water home.”
Gambill interrupted Green’s answer to clarify that he was to answer if it is ethical to use this photo.
“I don’t know if it is ethical to use this picture in my campaign,” he replied.
Last then turned to Wilson-Edwards to ask for clarification on a statement made by the incumbent during a discussion panel on July 20, 2021.
In this discussion, Wilson-Edwards claimed she could not afford a “white picket fence home” so she understands the housing issues in Cedar. Last asked Wilson-Edwards “if she could truly relate” since the candidate currently owns two homes.
“You can have empathy for a situation without truly living it,” she explained. “I have worked on intergenerational poverty, which I don’t always understand first hand, but I do have empathy, respect and compassion for those who live in such conditions and I can find solutions for them.”
The debate turned to how each candidate would promote business and work opportunities. The moderators explained that many SUU graduates migrate from Cedar City because of the lack of job opportunities. The candidates were asked how they would incentivize SUU graduates to stay in Iron County.
Wilson-Edwards explained that she was one of those graduates who hoped to stay in Cedar City so she feels connected to the issue. She would like to see a pipeline project that starts in high school and college that leads kids to getting jobs at businesses here like the iron mine. She also wants to find more jobs that pay good wages.
“We export one of our greatest commodities which are our students and children we educate,” Wilson-Edwards said. “We need to continually look for more opportunities for our graduates so we don’t continue to export our greatest resource and individuals.”
Green, in response to the same question, told the audience that he is a business builder and entrepreneur and through his own individual practice has promoted business endeavours by selfless acts such as not owning shares of his old company.
The moderators asked how each candidate would promote business growth in the north end of Cedar City.
Green once again relied on his experience as a businessman to answer the moderators’ question. He believes that he is best qualified to promote business growth because he is an entrepreneur.
“I’m a business guy,” Green said. “I’ll talk business with anyone and I’ll ask anyone to come to the north end.”
Wilson-Edwards answered the question by explaining the city government needs to look at different avenues to entice businesses to build in the north end of town. She explained that a lot of the land on the north end is owned by private landowners. Those private landowners have the decision making power of which types of companies are built there.
“Our city has focused mainly on jobs and companies that provide high paying jobs,” she said. “The north end of town wants this and we are trying to recruit those types of companies.”
To cast your vote, make sure to mail in your ballot by Monday, Nov. 1. Ballots may be dropped off on Nov. 2 at any of the Vote Centers on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Check out Cedar city’s website for more information.
Story and photos by: Danielle Meuret