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Springdale, Utah mayoral race is one to watch

The small, southern Utah town of Springdale, right at the south gate to Zion National Park, has an interesting mayoral race that will be decided today. After an eight year term in office, mayor Pat Cluff will turn over the leadership of this international tourist destination to someone new.

The candidates have a lot of similarities. Both are inn owners, in fact, their inns are located across the street from one another. Both seek to keep the “village atmosphere” of Springdale. Both oppose franchise restaurants within town borders. Both are either on the town council or were recently.

Their only slight disagreements are the timing of a need to update their water infrastructure and their streetlights.

Stanley J. Smith is an Orem, Utah native who moved with his family to Springdale in 1972 when his father bought the Bumbleberry Inn. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1982 and is married to Shirley Smith.

Mark Chambers is a Salt Lake City native who moved to Springdale in 2009 after purchasing Under the Eaves Bed & Breakfast. He graduated from the University of Utah and is in a civil union with partner Joe Pitti.

That’s right — it’s the UofU vs. BYU in Springdale.

Oh, and then there’s that straight vs. gay thing.

There are 306 registered voters in this town of 547 people. Nearly 80 percent call themselves Republican, 18 percent Democrat and 2 percent independents. In 2012 nearly 83 percent voted for Romney and 16 percent for Obama. In 2008, 76 percent voted for McCain and 21 percent for Obama.

In the primary election, Smith received 95 votes of the 207 ballots counted, Chambers won 70 votes and art gallery owner Kathy LaFave received 42.

Elections are done by mail in Springdale. Ballots were mailed to all registered voters on Oct. 8 and must be postmarked by yesterday, Nov. 4. As of yesterday, 68 percent of the ballots have been received by the town clerk.

Chambers sponsored an anti-discrimination ordinance that included sexual orientation and gender identity in April of 2012 that was passed unanimously by the town council.

“Springdale is an extremely welcoming town and the most difficult part about passing the ordinance was convincing others that it was needed because the culture is already so welcoming,” Chambers told QSaltLake at the time of the meeting. “There was no opposition from community groups or other council members.”

“I’d encourage everyone to come down and support Springdale and its local economy. It really is a welcoming and affirming environment for LGBT people,” Chambers said.

Springdale Town Clerk Fay Cope said that an email and posting on the town website should happen soon after 8 p.m. MST.

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