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Group Of Hildale, Utah, Employees Resign After First Woman Mayor Elected

Donia Jessop
(Photo by Jackie Hai - KJZZ)
For many, Donia Jessop's candidacy for mayor represented change in the community of Hildale.

Nearly a dozen city and utility board employees in the small town of Hildale, Utah, have resigned — at least one citing conflict of religion as the reason.

Hildale, along with Colorado City, Arizona, is home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

The employee who resigned for religious reasons said it is against his faith to follow a woman or to work with “apostates." That’s the term used by FLDS church members to describe those who have left or been kicked out of the church.

MORE: Short Creek: Beyond FLDS

Rumors that something like this could happen swirled around the Hildale mayoral and City Council election in November, when for the first time, all those elected were non-church members.

Hildale Mayor Donia Jessop said she respects those who have resigned for holding to what they believe is right, and she is working with a court-appointed monitor to fill the soon-to-be vacant positions.

Hildale was found guilty of religious discrimination in a Justice Department lawsuit in 2016.

Sarah Ventre produces KJZZ’s two-hour daily program, The Show. Prior to working at KJZZ, she was a producer and editor at NPR headquarters in Washington for a number of shows, desks, podcasts and the national newscast. Her reporting ranges from understanding the relationship between faith, culture, and community among those who have left the FLDS church, to political implications of world music showcases at SXSW. Ventre’s work has been featured on Weekend Edition, Weekend All Things Considered, and on member station WAMU. Ventre also freelances for the Phoenix New Times, Bitch magazine, and several other publications. Ventre grew up in the Valley and is a founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Rock! Phoenix, which puts on a rock ’n’ roll camp for girls, trans, and gender nonconforming youths every summer. She also participates in live storytelling events, and occasionally performance art. Ventre holds a degree in anthropology from Arizona State University. She is always up for a good laugh or a great chile relleno, and is happy to have returned to her hometown to tell stories within her community.