New mayor to serve Washington City in over a decade; City Council to see 2 newcomers

ST. GEORGE — Washington City will see a new mayor and two political newcomers on the City Council next year with the adoption of the official results from the Nov. 2 election.

Washington County elections clerk Melanie Abplanalp shares the final results of the 2021 municipal numbers for Washington City with the Washington City Council, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2021 Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Melanie Abplanalp, Washington County elections clerk, appeared before the Washington City Council Wednesday evening to present the official canvas, or final results, of the recent election. After a short presentation breaking down the numbers and who won which race, the council voted to adopt the official results.

Washington City had contracted with the county to handle its municipal election this year, with is why Abplanalp, a county official, shared the results.

Sitting council member Kress Staheli, who ran against incumbent Mayor Ken Neilson, was declared the winner of the mayoral race with a total of 4,607 votes to Neilson’s 2,298 votes. Neilson had hoped to secure a fourth term as mayor, having served in the position since 2010.

“I feel humbled, and I feel optimistic and I feel ready to serve the public,” Staheli previously told St. George News. “I’m looking forward to serving and being an active, involved mayor.”

City Council member Kress Staheli, now officially the mayor-elect of Washington City, listening to a presentation during a city council meeting, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2021 Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Staheli also stated his appreciation for the service Neilson has given the city and hopes to build on the foundation he and other mayors have built ahead of him.

The final results for the City Council races were read next. Coming out on top was Bret Henderson, who had 3,949 votes, followed by Kimberly Casperson with 3,218 votes. Marisa Thayn came in third with 3,140 votes, followed by incumbent Roger Bundy with 2,433 votes.

While Henderson took a wide lead in the unofficial results released election night, the race between Casperson and Thayn was too close to call. At the time, only 38 votes separated them with Thayn in the lead. However, the race flipped as subsequent tallies made by the Washington County Clerk/Auditor’s Office brought revived vote totals.

In the end, Casperson was able to claim victory by nearly 80 votes.

“It was quite the process,” Casperson said of the election following the official canvas. “I just felt really grateful, too, for all the support, and I’m really looking forward to getting to work and getting to know more people in our community.”

Washington City Council member-elect Bret Henderson, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2021 Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Casperson is a small business owner with her husband in Washington City and has not held public office before. As she assumes the role of one of the city’s newest council members, Casperson said she plans to continue promoting the principles of freedom and the U.S. Constitution on the local level.

“I feel it’s important for local leaders to represent our community and what they believe in,” she said. “And even though there are issues that we might not have a vote on, we can still represent the voices of the people and let it known because it makes a difference to send that message to our state representatives and our governor. Out here we’re going to respect individual liberty and defend the Constitution.”

Henderson, who is a general contractor, also said he felt good about the final results and looked forward to serving on the City Council. Like Casperson, he is also a political newcomer.

“This is my very first time in politics and I’m excited to serve the people of Washington City,” he said. “It’s a big responsibility and I have a lot of learning to do, but I’m really excited to get working.”

Washington City Council member-elect Kimberly Casperson, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2021 Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Addressing the growth of the city and looking for ways to promote smart growth are among Henderson’s goals when he gets into office. He also wants to implement water conservation measures recently proposed by the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

“Generally, we just want to make sure that we continue to have a good quality of life in Washington City, and that in the growth that we have, is good growth,” he said.

Staheli said he is excited to be working with the new council members next year, adding there will be a new opening on the council once he takes the mayor’s seat and vacates his current position on the council. This will open Staheli’s former seat to whomever the City Council appoints to fill the vacancy for the next two years.

In Washington City overall, the county clerk/auditor’s office counted 6,939 votes, making for a 41.9% voter turnout.

“It’s the first time you’ve been over 40%, so that’s pretty good,” Abplanalp said, adding the total number of registered voters in Washington City currently stands at 16,575.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!