Colorado City elections today
Three candidates running for three Town Council seats; town's new mayor to be chosen by council
ST. GEORGE -- With three candidates running for three Town Council positions, the primary election today in Colorado City is anything but unpredictable.

Edson Jessop, who has been a councilman since the town was incorporated in 1985, is the only candidate remaining on the official ballot. Two write-in candidates -- private school teacher Richard Allred and town library board member Donald Richter -- are running for the two remaining vacancies on the seven-member council.

The mayor will be selected by the new council after a general election, which will be May 18, Town Clerk Kevin Barlow said.

Dan Barlow, the mayor of 19 years until his resignation in January, filed papers in December for his re-election, only to withdraw in a letter dated Jan. 26, Kevin Barlow said. Another councilman, Richard Holm, didn't file for re-election.

As part of a house cleaning by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints prophet Warren Jeffs, Holm and Dan Barlow have been expelled from the church, one of the largest polygamist groups in North America.

Through a trust, United Effort Plan, the church controls most of Colorado City's land, property and the 4,000 residents recorded in the Census 2000. Women disobeying men and men disobeying the prophet risk losing their homes and their family.

Riding on four-year terms, Colorado City's seven council members have stayed in power for decades, enjoying elections without challengers. Dan Barlow, who was first appointed by the Town Council as the mayor, always received at least 98 percent of the vote in his elections since 1985, Kevin Barlow said.

Jessop, who has always enjoyed A "very high" percentage of votes, was out of town Monday and not available to answer The Spectrum's questions, Kevin Barlow said. The clerk said he didn't have Jessop's home phone number.

The City Hall's downstairs council chamber will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for polling, Kevin Barlow said. The town has 1,014 registered voters, which also includes Centennial Park and Cane Beds, he said. But only those living in the Colorado City limits can vote, he said. Voter turnout is expected to fall between 20 to 45 percent.

"It really depends," Kevin Barlow said. "It hasn't been the hot show in town."

Pam Black, who left the FLDS church in 1996, said she stopped voting in Colorado City even before she moved out to the family property in Hildale.

"It's a corrupted system," she said. "It's done by block voting. The women are told to vote by their husbands. The husbands were told by the hierarchy above them."

In the late 1980s, her late husband, Martin Black, was elected as Colorado City constable with 99 percent of the votes, she recalled. Then-FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs had told followers to vote for Martin instead of his opponent, Heber Hammon, Pam Black said.

"He won so easily," she said. "He felt guilty after that. He felt ashamed, kind of ashamed of the system."

In 1995, feeling he was "not being true to himself," Martin resigned, Pam Black said. They left the church in 1996.

Kevin Barlow would not comment on whether the system is fair. But in an interview last month, he said the stability of the council represent voter confidence without "typical infighting."
Originally published Tuesday, March 9, 2004