Most candidates discussed their districts and gave general background information on their histories in the private and public sector, but a few moments of tension did arise.
Republican Sen. Evan Vickers led the speakers off. Vickers, of District 28, which encompasses Beaver, Iron, and eastern Washington Counties, unfolded his platform as being focused on rural issues, health care issues, natural resources, and higher education. He stated that he prides himself on knowing his district.
District 29 Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart expressed happiness for the recovering real estate market and stated, “The areas I try to focus on are education infrastructure and the economy. District 29 covers the western portion of Washington County. I figure those are the things that make the state go and the things that make our local area go.”
Both Vickers and Urquhart are running unopposed in the general election.
House of Representatives
Republican Rep. Jon Stanard of District 62, which includes Washington City and the east side of St. George, spoke regarding his upbringing in contrast to what he sees now in growing St. George. Stanard was raised in Eureka, Calif., a town he described as being devoid of growth. He compared Eureka to St. George with its vibrant economy and growth projection, and stated that he feels that his living experience gives him a unique perspective on the growth of the area, and that he is grateful to live in an area with such potential.
Democratic candidate Shirley Nelson, running for District 62, stated that the State of Utah has not done enough to protect air and water, that industrial pollution has been allowed to occur throughout the state, and that it is her first priority to address the problem. She also advocated raising the minimum wage in Utah and conveyed her strong interest in raising teachers’ salaries. She criticized the Utah legislature’s denial of Medicaid expansion for children as an “act of stupidity,” and also called out Stanard for co-sponsoring the bill to deny Medicaid expansion in Utah, and for allowing millions of dollars to be spent on higher education.
“This is America and not Putin’s Russia,” Nelson said.
Nelson then claimed Stanard is friends with former Attorney General John Swallow, and possibly local businessman Jeremy Johnson, who was recently indicted for numerous counts of fraud, by default. She also accused Stanard of missing 125 votes in the seven-week voting period in the House, stating that he has the “third worst voting record in the House of Representatives.” She concluded that the people of District 62 were being “poorly represented.”
Republican Rep. Brad Last of District 71, which encompasses rural eastern Washington County, gave information on his background in the healthcare industry and his current position at Dixie State University. He voiced his desire to limit the role of government in the state and his platform to “allow the private sector to handle the things that they can without the intervention of government.” Last also stated that he most cares about issues of growth, care for the economy, and wanting to have a place for those who wish to move to Southern Utah.
Democrat Ken Anderson, running for District 71, said that he wants to make a difference by promoting a sustainable economy, preserving natural resources, improving education, and expanding energy solutions with growth in geothermal, solar, and wind options. Anderson also voiced that the public should “demand high ethics of elected leaders.”
Dorothy Engelman, the District 74 Democratic candidate, announced that after she made the decision to run for office, she began meeting with community leaders and citizens to better understand what the public is looking for. Engelman emphasized that she feels the Southern Utah area is in need of a long-term public transportation solution that goes beyond wider roads.
District 74 Republican Rep. V. Lowry Snow said, "I don't operate from a specific party, but I try to do what is needed for the community."
Though she's campaigning on the Democratic ticket, Cheryl Hawker, candidate for District 75, which includes parts of St. George, Winchester, Pinto, Gunlock, and Enterprise, described herself as a bipartisan candidate, and that she feels that party lines do not need to be so dominant in Utah. She gave her background as a small business owner and also spoke out about her belief in the transference of public lands to the state in order to fund and improve Utah’s education system. Hawker is running against Republican Rep. Don Ipson, who was absent from the forum.
After the three-minute allotment had been filled by all speakers, the candidates were allowed an additional minute to wrap up further thoughts. Stanard took that time to express his reasons for missing so many votes in the House by explaining that his wife’s mother passed away last year and shortly thereafter, his nephew had also passed away, leaving him in a difficult position to make the trip to Salt Lake to participate in voting during the seven-week period.
Stanard later addressed Nelson's other accusations. “I’ve met John Swallow I think, about three times in my life, and maybe had a three-minute conversation with him, so I’m not quite sure where that comment came from. As for my voting record, I think it’s pretty high considering the remote area of the state we are in.”
The general election will be held Nov. 4.