Colorado City chooses new mayor

The Salt Lake Tribune/March 14, 2011

Colorado City, Arizona - After the mayor's sudden resignation last month, this town got a new leader Monday.

Trucking company owner George M. Barlow, 48, will fill the position left open by Terrill Johnson, who had served on the council since the town's formation in 1985.

"We will truly miss him and his influence," said Vice Mayor Kimball Barlow at the City Council meeting Monday.

Nearly all of the residents of Colorado City are members of the Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Johnson is one of about 30 men Jeffs has exiled from the church in recent months, according to former members. Most have left the community and their families.

The Meadowayne Dairy store Johnson ran also closed last month. The shop and its parking lot were surrounded by a tall wooden fence Monday.

Many of the approximately 10,000 members of the church live in Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, twin towns that form one community straddling the Utah-Arizona border. The mayor of Hildale also resigned his post early this year; a replacement is expected to be chosen on Tuesday.

Johnson did not refer to the church in his short resignation letter, which was written Feb. 24. The resignation was effective the next day "due to my circumstances," he wrote.

The letter, which Kimball Barlow read aloud during the meeting, cited "reasons of other personal interest" for Johnson's sudden departure.

"I am grateful to all of you," Johnson wrote.

George Barlow will serve out the remainder of Johnson's term until May 2014. He was nominated and approved unanimously by the City Council on Monday.

His background, including 30 years in the trucking business and ownership of Perfect Enterprise in St. George, has helped prepare him for the job, he said.

The city is facing a budget shortfall as the state of Arizona slashes its tax contributions to municipalities. Many residents are employed in construction and are feeling the pinch of the nationwide housing market slump, the new mayor said.

"I want to help our community to pull through the economic downfall," George Barlow said.

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