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Meet Payson's new mayor

Published January 6, 2010 3:10 pm

Elections » Write-in candidate, Rick Moore gets sworn in.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When Rick Moore and his family came to this southern Utah County city 40 years ago, it didn't even have a traffic light.

"You could walk through downtown and talk to everybody," Moore said.

But times have changed. The population has more than doubled, it is home to a Walmart and there are at least seven traffic lights. And now, it is Moore's job to manage the city's growth.

Moore took the oath of office Monday as the city's new mayor after defeating incumbent Burtis Bills 1,025 to 829 votes in a write-in campaign. The only reason Moore ran as a write-in is because he missed the filing deadline due to the death of his father.

Even Moore admitted that winning was a bit of a long shot for him.

"When they put up the final results, you could hear a pin drop," Moore said.

Moore said he has been told a write-in has never defeated a sitting mayor in Utah.

Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, said that based on anecdotal accounts, he believes that this is not a first. Write-in candidates face an uphill, but not insurmountable, challenge. Incumbents win 90 percent of the time, but they can be knocked out through a write-in campaign.

"In a small town, it is doable because all you need is a significant number of people to vote for you," Jowers said.

Moore lined up support from former mayors and council members, and made contacts with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the city to make sure they spread the word. He especially targeted people with large extended families, asking them to pass out name stickers to place on the ballots on Election Day. He also rented a booth at the city's Onion Days celebration over Labor Day weekend to reach even more potential voters.

It helped that Moore already had a healthy amount of name recognition. His family has run a heating and air-conditioning business in the city for four decades, and he is actively involved in the Lion's Club and the Boy Scouts. He also challenged Bills in the 2005 election.

Moore said his plans as mayor are to manage the city's budget in a recession, as well as encourage more businesses to locate in Payson. That may mean revising some regulations to make it more business friendly.

He also has to deal with growth. Eventually the city will need to annex land to accommodate an increasing population.

"You just grow with the times, and keep up with the growth," Moore said. "If we don't, it will become a bedroom community."

Connie Moore, Moore's mother, said she wasn't too happy at first when her son said he was going to run for mayor. Her initial reaction: "I'm going to kill him."

But she's softened up a bit.

"We're proud of him," Connie Moore said. "I'm sure somewhere his dad is smiling."

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Meet the Mayor

Name » Rick Moore

Age » 47

Career » Estimator for Moore Sheet Metal in Payson.

Education » Three years of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning training at Utah Technical College (now Utah Valley University).

Family » He and his wife, Lana, have three children, three grandchildren and two grandchildren on the way.

Fun fact » Moore is a member of the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouting's national honor society.