It's been a war of the elements. There were two towns chucking legal water balloons over a pipeline, community groups and developers hurling verbal dirt clods at each other while the forest between them burned with political fire.
But after six months of campaigning and drawing lines in the sand, the first round of fighting was over in a matter of minutes. Clerk Silvia Smith disclosed the results of the primary election March 16 at exactly 2 p.m. in the council chamber.
None of the mayoral candidates were present, and nobody yelled or ranted or showboated.
Instead, the crowd was comprised mostly of Payson residents and a few council candidates. They listened to the results and shuffled into the Town Hall corridor to talk politics afterward.
The announcement ended the mayoral bid of Jon Barber, matching the incumbent, Barbara Brewer with a newcomer to Payson politics, Bob Edwards, in a runoff.
Edwards, who retired to the Rim Country three years ago, said being a Payson tenderfoot hasn't hindered his vie for mayor.
"There's no membership time in this town," Edwards said. "I learned an awful lot about the citizens of Payson. They're energized right now. They want change."
The Michigan native and his backers stand on a platform of responsible expansion.
Edwards took a 1,066-vote lead over Brewer, garnering about 48 percent of the electoral pie. He needed 51 percent to sweep the election.
Though Brewer expressed her disappointment with the numbers, she stands undeterred.
"I have a whole new plan that I think will work for everybody," said Brewer. "We're going to hit the ground running."
The mayor wouldn't comment on the details of her revised campaign strategy but said she'll outline her course at a press conference, Monday, March 20 at a still undecided location.
Her campaign addressed controlled growth, local businesses and improvements to the town's existing infrastructure.
"We don't need (Payson) to be all service industry," she said in a Jan. 13, 2006 interview. "We need it to be mom-and-pop shops, a little coffee shop, a little bakery, little knickknack stuff. Those are the things people travel across America to see."
Meanwhile, Barber, who earned 1,256 votes, said he's still sorting out the circumstances of his loss.
"Of course I'm disappointed," said Barber, the superintendent of SRJ Homes. "I'm not sure what I could've done much differently. Probably just getting name recognition. I didn't have time to go door to door because I have a full-time job."
Barber expressed his concern for Star Valley's water issues and vowed on his Internet blog to support the newly minted town's struggle for autonomy.
"Star Valley just wants to know that they don't have to worry about running out of water because someone else took it," he wrote. "It really is that simple."
Town Manager Fred Carpenter said Payson's 8,677 registered voters will receive their ballots in the middle of April.
The election ends May 16.
The final results in the mayoral primary:
Jon Barber 1,256 (24.37 percent) *Eliminated
Barbara Brewer 1,390 (26.97 percent)
Bob Edwards 2,456 (47.66 percent)
The runoff election will be held between Brewer and Edwards. Barber was eliminated in the primary.
The final results in the council primary:
Ed Blair 2,438 (47.31 percent)
Su Connell 2,042 (39.63 percent)
Richard Croy 1,611 (31.26 percent)
Robert Henley 1,423 (27.61 percent) *Eliminated
Diana Sexton 1,440 (27.94 percent)
Charlie Smith 972 (18.86 percent) *Eliminated
Barbara Underwood 1,878 (36.44 percent)
Mike Vogel 2,044 (39.67 percent)
The runoff election will be held with Blair, Connell, Croy, Underwood, Vogel and Sexton. Henley and Smith were eliminated in the primary.