ST. GEORGE NEWS — Though their numbers were small in comparison to the Republicans, Washington County Democrats stood united Tuesday for their caucus meetings ahead of the 2018 elections.
Lynn Cobb, Washington County Democratic Party secretary, speaks at the Democratic caucus meeting at Dixie Middle School in St. George, Utah, March 20, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News
There were only a handful of Democratic representatives from each precinct at the caucus meeting for House District 75 at Dixie Middle School in St. George. Still, it was encouraging to see people come together for a common cause, said Lynn Cobb, Washington County Democratic Party secretary.
“This is the grassroots, absolute neighborhood-level organization to bring lasting change,” Cobb said. “I think a lot of people in Utah share the values of the Democrats but don’t talk about it because of the tradition of being a Republican here.”
Two Democratic candidates from Washington County are running for the Utah Legislature this year. Mark Chambers, a Democrat from Springdale is running for Senate District 28, which covers parts of Washington, Iron and Beaver counties. And Chuck Goode, a Democrat from Toquerville, is running for House District 71, which covers the eastern sides of Washington and Iron counties.
“It’s almost easier to say I’m running as an openly gay man than a Democrat,” Chambers said, before mentioning the stigma against Democrats that he said can be hard to overcome in Southern Utah.
Keeping public lands in federal control, increasing access to health care and making sure local communities can control the use of billboards are some of the planks on Chambers’ platform.
“When I saw that the Republicans were running unopposed, I wanted to run to show both sides of the issues,” Chambers said. “I would love to win the election, but more importantly, I want to talk about these issues that so many people here care about.”
Robert Ford, a Democrat from Rockville, Utah, is also running for the County Commissioner's Seat A which is a non-partisan race. He is already active in many Rockville community services. Robert is also a professional photographer who worked closely with Jane Goodall.
Judy Oar, a Democratic delegate for Utah House District 75 in St. George, speaks at the Democratic caucus meeting at Dixie Middle School in St. George, Utah, March 20, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News
Judy Oar, a Democratic delegate for Utah House District 75 in St. George, said the reason she came to the caucus meeting was because she was “pissed off” with the current Republican leadership nationwide.
“The fact that there’s so little representation in Utah for Democrats and what we stand for is appalling,” Oar said. “I’ve got to do something. What can you do if you don’t start at grassroots.”
At the last Democratic caucus meeting in 2016, there were about 600 people who attended because they were all young people who wanted to vote for then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
“And then they disappeared and we never saw them again,” Cobb said.
The issues that Democrats care about are issues that many Utahns and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should identify with, Cobb said, including equality, fairness and opportunities for all. Getting more Democratic candidates on the ballot in Washington County is one of the goals of the Washington County Democratic Party, Cobb said.
“In Utah, if you’re a democrat, you kind of have to come out,” Cobb said. “Hardly anyone even knows we’re here. But we’re here.”