Southern Utah town cancels election due to lack of candidates

Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-28 13:02:10-04

SANTA CLARA, Utah – The general election is just a week away, but for Santa Clara it will just be another day.

The small southern Utah town canceled the general election earlier this month because they don’t need one.

“We have three open seats,” said City Manager Edward Dickie. “We had four candidates, one dropped out. So now we only have three.”

Santa Clara is one of 65 Utah cities forgoing elections this November. The Lieutenant Governor’s office says dozens of smaller communities take advantage of the state statute that allows it every year.

Most of the communities are small, with only a few thousand residents.

“It would be a little bit foolish to run that election on Election Day to see who had the most votes,” said Washington County Clerk Kim Hafen. “That’s really all it would determine.”

Hafen said it’s the first time he’s seen a city cancel an election. The law allowing it went into effect in 2011. Closing the polls is strictly a budgetary move. Without a contest, Santa Clara can put the election money toward other city projects.

“The city budgeted $6,000 to hold the elections,” Dickie said. “Now that we don’t have to have it, it saves our taxpayers.”

Santa Clara residents were surprised then they found out there was no election this year, and worried it’s because people are becoming apathetic toward local government.

Hafen said it’s hard to say why there aren’t more people running.

“It may mean people are satisfied with their leadership,” Hafen said. “Maybe they made the right choice the last time they ran.”

Beyond Santa Clara, Hafen said, seven of the eight special service districts in the county are cancelling elections for board members.

The county clerk said that’s a little more concerning as it’s typically harder to get people involved at that level.

General elections will be take place Nov. 3. According to the Office of Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, if a city cancels an election, many voters can still vote on propositions and school bonds that day.