Hildale City Council appoints 2 FLDS, says no to nonmember

The Salt Lake Tribune/October 27, 2008

Hildale - An attempt to get a non-FLDS member on the Hildale City Council fell short Saturday as the council turned to members of a polygamous sect to fill two vacant seats.

The council appointed Davis Roundy and Carlos Jessop to posts vacated by longtime Councilmen Harold Peine and Lamar Johnson. Like most residents of the town, the new representatives belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Lamont Black also put his name forward as a candidate at the urging of former and non-FLDS residents of Hildale.

Mayor David Zitting said Black's application and a petition supporting his candidacy were submitted to the city after the filing deadline, something Black later acknowledged was true.

Black is a descendent of original settlers of the area and a bishop for the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His family is the second-largest property owner in Hildale and adjoining Colorado City, Ariz., said Jethro Barlow, who backed Black's candidacy. The United Effort Plan Trust owns nearly all the other property in the twin towns.

The trust, set up by the sect decades ago, has been under court oversight since 2005 because of alleged mismanagement of its assets.

Zitting said all three candidates were "very qualified" but the council settled on Roundy and Jessop after considering who would be most effective and whom residents would have likely elected. "We do represent the citizens of the community," he said.

Joel Heaton, a real estate agent who backed Black's candidacy, sparred with Zitting after the council's decision was announced.

Heaton said the petition submitted to the city included signatures of 150 residents, including 25 from Hildale, who endorsed Black.

"The community is becoming a little more diverse and I don't think the council or mayor are recognizing that," said Heaton, something he asked them to consider if future vacancies occur.

The council took a similar position in September 2006 when it appointed Edson Holm and Phillip Barlow to two vacant seats and rejected non-FLDS candidates - including Jethro Barlow. Barlow works for Bruce R. Wisan, the court-appointed fiduciary overseeing the UEP Trust.

Heaton also confronted Zitting about his refusal to release the candidates' names before the council meeting.

Zitting said he did not want the identities of those under consideration "scattered all over the community" until council members received the information.

"The City Council is required to go through a specific process [by law]," Zitting said. "They are required to make their decision. It is not a public vote."

Residents will get their say on the council candidates at the next municipal election, the mayor said.

Roundy and Jessop will take their seats next month and join a council that faces a number of financial and legal challenges. The city is at odds with Wisan over the fiduciary's plans for subdividing the twin towns.

Hildale Business Manager Jerry Barlow asked the council to file a letter with 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg objecting to "misrepresentations" made by Wisan in recent UEP court hearings.

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