George Stewart</I>

PROVO — City Councilman George Stewart blames his recent decision to resign from the council to serve a church mission on the Mormon Times.

"It's all your newspaper's fault," Stewart said to a Deseret News reporter of his plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his wife Joanna.

The decision effectively puts to bed any speculation Stewart would make another run for the mayor's seat.

Truthfully, it'd be more accurate to say the Stewarts have been contemplating the decision for quite some time. But he said a story in Thursday's edition of the Mormon Times tipped the scale.

Stewart and his wife read "Missionary couples desperately needed, Seventy tells fireside," and came to the same conclusion separately.

"I just felt like, after reading that article, it was time to go," he said.

"It hit him the same as it hit me," his wife added.

Stewart said he'll resign from his position on the City Council when they receive their call. The Stewarts hope to have everything worked out by the end of the year.

Since Stewart's term doesn't officially end until 2010, the City Council will have to take applications and then choose someone to fill the seat until the next election.

By his own admission, Stewart said he always did what he thought was best for the city, rather than what the majority wanted.

"People would tell me, 'You sure do some unpopular things,' and I always say, 'So?"' he said. "I just did what I felt was best for the city."

Stewart adamantly opposed the iProvo system — once owned and subsidized by the city — and advocated privatizing the network. Some thought he was positioning himself for another run at the mayoral seat, but Stewart said that's never been a high priority.

"Compared to the mission, no," he said. "But you always want to keep that consideration open."

Stewart was Provo's mayor from 1994 to 1998. He's served as council chairman and currently fills the seat of council vice chairman.

Stewart and his wife served a mission to the Navajo reservation, and he also served as a mission president of the Argentina Neuquen Mission.

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