ST. ANTHONY – Wendy Sykes will be the only women to be serving on the St. Anthony City Council during the upcoming 2020 term.
It was a close election where Sykes beat John L. Sanders by just four votes. Voters cast 198 votes in Sykes favor to Sanders’ 194 ballots received.
“It was very close. But you know, I told everybody that ‘Everyone of those guys would have done a phenomenal job’,” she said. “I was really really impressed with everyone who ran for the position. I would have been happy with any of them if I hadn’t made it myself.”
Rick Hill and Russell Rubert were also elected. Seven people ran for three open seats.
Sykes believes that it will be great to have a woman’s perspective on the council.
“Sometimes we need a woman’s side or opinion,” she said. “Sometimes I just feel us women think things through a little bit more clearer.”
While Sykes is the only woman who will serve this term on the city council, other women have been city council members before.
City Clerk Patty Parkinson reported there has been other councilwomen with the most recent being Suzanne Bagley who served from 2010 to 2018. Current Mayor Don Powell’s wife, Elva Powell was on the city council from 2010 to 2012 after being appointed. Lisa Habberly also served from 2012 to 2015. Dee Rausch was a city councilwoman from 2006 to 2009 and served about the same time, as did Joyce Edlefsen and Cathy Koon.
“There have been a lot of women, but the majority have been men. The last four years it’s been men,” Parkinson said. “I’ve been here 11 years, and as long as I have been here, there have always been councilwomen.”
Earlier this year, St. Anthony Mayor Donald Powell urged Sykes to run.
“He needed a little bit of new support. I said ‘We’ll just see.’ I signed up and did it. Now leading up to this, I’ve come to notice a lot of things in our little town that needs to be fixed,” she said.
Sykes said she’d like to see the city work to improve the St. Anthony’s south side.
“The south side of St. Anthony doesn’t really get the attention that the north side does,” she said. “They don’t have street lights and don’t have adequate night lighting, gutter, curbing and sidewalks. It’s one of the biggest things I need to focus on. We need to clean up and help that end of town. There are just as many taxpayers on the south, and the south side gets kicked to the curb.”
Some work also needs to be done on the city’s budget, Sykes said.
“I want to get a tighter grip on what the city’s spending money on and do a little more further investigation on things,” she said.
Sykes also wants to help the city bring more tourism into the community and to keep St. Anthony residents spending their hard earned dollars in town.
“We definitely need to figure something out to get tourists back into our town. The Sand Dunes is 5 miles from town,” she said. “Everyone goes to Rexburg for groceries. We need to figure out a way to get that money spent in our town.”
Sykes also plans to continue her work with the city’s dog pound. About 6 years ago, Sykes started working with former St. Anthony Police Chief Terry Harris in hopes of helping stray dogs find homes. Since that time, no dogs have been euthanized, she said.
“They do an amazing job. As soon as they get a stray dog in, they contact me,” she said. “A little over 100 dogs, we’ve rescued. I’ve got connections. I deal with the Humane Society, the Rexburg Dog Pound and the Snake River Animal Shelter. The Humane Society has been good in jumping in to spay and neuter animals.”
Sykes also hopes to provide more community education on spaying and neutering Ferrell cats.
“The city can’t legally step in and take their cats away from them,” she said. “I’ll have to see what (the council) can consider.”
Married to Steve Sykes for 19 years, the couple has two children, Keagan and Kaytlynn. The Sykes family has been psyched over their mother’s win.
“My husband and son hadn’t voted and around 7:30, I said ‘You’ve got to get out there.’ It was literally down to the wire,” Sykes said.
Sykes works for the RMSI retail company and works in Rexburg and Jackson grocery stores on varying weeks.
“I do the resets. I make sure they’ve got all the new merchandise on the shelves,” she said.
Sykes assured residents that her work would not interfere with her council duties.
“It won’t be a problem,” she said. “I set my own schedule. I’m usually home by 4 or 5 o’clock.”
Sykes says that she’s looking forward to serving the city during the upcoming year.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’ll be fun to see what happens, and where we go with this.”