Star Valley Keeps Its Mayor

Henderson, Leis, Newland win council seats

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The leadership of the Star Valley Town Council will remain in the hands of incumbent Mayor Bill Rappaport. The sitting mayor received 346 votes to challenger Randy White’s 242.

Star Valley residents cast 597 ballots in Tuesday’s election. There are 1,356 registered votes in the town.

Paty Henderson was the leading vote getter in the contest for the three council seats.

The final tally released late Thursday evening showed Henderson had 422 votes, followed by incumbent Del Newland with 352; incumbent Vern Leis, 335; and challenger Chris Benjamin, 308.

The candidates with the most votes were elected to the town council’s three open positions.

Most of the candidates gathered at Diamond Point Shadows election night to await results. They were joined by family, friends and supporters.

Waiting for the numbers to come in, Rappaport and Newland shared accomplishments during their service to the residents of Star Valley for which they were proud.

“Getting the roads paved,” Rappaport said was the most important accomplishment. He said he also feels having photo enforcement (for speeding) has been important.

“We were having three to six fatalities a year before and there have not been any since —and only about two fender benders.”

He said the photo enforcement system has been so successful, the council is considering placing two more cameras on Highway 260 through the community.

“We are also one of the few towns in the state to have a balanced budget and money in the bank,” the mayor said.

Rappaport said he is also proud that there is now a good relationship with Payson and both councils are working together.

“We’ve seen a lot done that should have been done,” said Newland and said the work on the roads was a big part of that.

“It took us a long time to get a group of people to work together,” he said of the mayor and his fellow council members.

Councilor Barbara Hartwell, while not a candidate in the election, was the unofficial hostess of the Star Valley election party and said Diamond Point Shadows did an excellent job in making the gathering possible.

She said the town’s council is better now because everyone on it has an excellent mind, is free thinking and intelligent.

So far the biggest challenge in governing the town has been getting water and sewer commissions up to their current level and seeing good people in the commission seats, Hartwell said.

Once they knew the preliminary results, Rappaport could only say, “I’m honored. I’m going to keep my promises.”

Henderson, the daughter of the late Jim Jones, who was a long-time Gila County Supervisor, was somewhat subdued about her victory.

“I know what I’m getting into. Politics is a blood sport. I will do my best to listen to the people of Star Valley. It will be a privilege to serve them,” she said.

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