The town of Vernon is looking for a new mayor.
When the filing period for municipal elections ended on June 7, nobody had filed to run for the top job — including incumbent Mayor Kent Sagers. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Vernon, which is located 33 miles south of Tooele City on SR-36, has a population of 243 residents.
“People have asked if I would like to stay on,” said Sagers, who has been a resident for 35 years. “I did not file to run again for personal reasons. I have family obligations that are taking a lot of time and I travel out of town every other weekend. I just don’t have the time.”
In order for Vernon residents to get a chance to vote for a new mayor, write-in candidates must file by Sept. 6, according to Tooele County Clerk Marilyn Gillette.
In absence of a write-in candidate, the town council will be faced with filling the mayoral position when Sagers’ term ends at the end of the year.
“The council will have to advertise the opening, take applications, interview the applicants in an open meeting and then vote to make the appointment,” said Gillette.
Vernon’s population of 243 puts it 27 places up from the bottom of a population list of Utah’s 250 cities and towns.
While small, the rural community government has its challenges.
In 2009, Sagers, who also served on the town council for four years, was opposed in his bid for mayor by Dennis Clark, at the time a seven-year resident of Vernon who has lived previously in Dugway and Vernal.
During that campaign both candidates agreed the defining issues of the election were ensuring city services and that infrastructure keep pace with the town’s residential growth.
Vernon’s population grew from 181 in 1990 to 243 in 2010, a 33 percent growth, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Controlled growth of the town is a major issue facing the future of Vernon,” Clark said in 2009. “Last year, at least five new families moved into Vernon.”
“We are a small town and it is a challenge to provide the essential services for our people,” said Sagers also in 2009. “I would like to look into grants and other ways to enhance our income.”
Clark has been serving on the Vernon Town Council since 2011. If the town council were to appoint Clark as mayor, the council would have to find a replacement for his council position.
Filling a vacant council position in Vernon may be just as hard as finding a new mayor.
Only two people, Bruce Thomas and Rodney Manzione, filed to run for Vernon town council this fall. There are three positions open. If a write-in candidate for the third seat doesn’t file by Sept. 7, the council will have to appoint one.
Vernon’s 2013 budget called for $77,150 in expenses with the largest expense categories being $27,000 for road maintenance, $20,000 for administration, and $15,000 for the fire department.
A variety of duties fall on the shoulders of Vernon’s mayor, including being the chief spokesperson for the people of the small rural town.
Recently Sagers has been a vocal opponent of Tooele County’s decision to churn up Faust Road and return it its former status as a gravel road.
Faust Road is a major route for Vernon residents, according to Sagers.
In 2011, following an announcement by the U.S. Postal Service that Vernon’s post office was one of 3,700 post offices nationwide scheduled to be closed, Sagers lead a successful effort to save the town’s post office.
The U.S. Postal Service will reduce the hours of the Vernon Post office from eight hours to six hours, according to Doretta Shumway, who serves as the town clerk and mail carrier.
“I’m not running for mayor,” she said.