ST. GEORGE – Washington County Democrats have a new home in St. George.
The Utah Democratic Party Southern Utah Field Office officially opened its doors Friday. A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held, and Washington County Democrats were able to meet various candidates running for local, state and national offices.
“We’re really excited (about the office),” said Dorothy Engelman, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Party. “We want this to be a Democrat’s home away from home.”
At the office, located by 429 N. Bluff St., locals will be able to pick up candidate information, signs and bumper-stickers. It will also serve as a general meeting place for party members, as well as a campaign headquarters for certain races between now and Election Day.
Office hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the week, with various activities taking place over the weekend. People interested in participating in activities or volunteering can contact the office at 435-879-1558.
“It’s nice to have a place we can call home,” said Don Blair, a Democratic state delegate.
Jerry Howard, another attendee at the grand opening, said he was happy the Democrats had a visible “presence” in the area.
Engelman described being Blue in a Red state, especially one as Red as Utah, was “challenging.” Democrats would sometimes hide in plain sight in order to avoid having their political views questioned or attacked by a Republic-majority.
“We have the right to espouse different political views,” Engelman said. “You don’t have to apologize for what you believe in.”
She also said people weren’t always necessarily going to agree 100 percent with a party’s platform either, be they Democrat or Republican.
Appealing to conservatives?
Despite Utah being a Republican stronghold, Engelman said the moderate Democrats running for office this year would appeal to conservative Republicans.
“Look at the people, not the party,” Engelman said. Too many people get caught up in talking-points and bumper-sticker slogans, she said. “We need to get passed that.”
Ingela Rundquist, Democratic Party member and co-organizer of the Occupy St. George movement, said, “The republic won’t work if people aren’t educated (about the people and issues they’re voting for).”
Jay Seegmiller, the Democratic candidate for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District and former state legislator said he was getting a lot of support from Republican state delegates.
“People on both sides aren’t very happy,” Seegmiller said as he and other candidates addressed the gathering after helping Engelman cut the ribbon, officially opening the field office.
“There are other options (outside of the Republicans),” he said.
Seegmiller also said he was confident he and other candidates would win if people continued to get the word out.
Also hoping to gain from conservative disillusionment over the current state of politics is Scott Howell, who is challenging Orrin Hatch for Utah’s Senate seat. Like, Seegmiller, Howell is also a former state legislator, having served as a state senator.
“Orrin Hatch’s shelf-life has expired,” Howell said, receiving cheers from the crowd.
Howell said Democratic efforts, coupled with moderate Republicans and Independents, would catapult the Democrats to victory.
“We’re not for bigger government, but smarter government,” he said.
“This isn’t about parties anymore,” she said. If elected, she would focus on local quality of life issues, such as procuring funding for better public transportation for seniors and safe bicycling paths.
Chacon said her campaign was going great thus far, and added she would not only be the first Democrat to represent District 75 if elected, but also the first woman.
Also in attendance at the grand opening were Brent Holloway, who is running for Utah House District 62, and Chris White, who is running for Washington County Commissioner.
A listing of additional Democrat Party candidates campaigning in Southern Utah can be found on TheWashgintonDems.com.
“The big challenge is getting people to vote,” Engelman said. Part of the new field office’s purpose is to help organize voters, as well as identify those likely to vote. Once voters are found and registered (if not already), Engelman said they plan to contact these individuals at least three times between now and Election Day.
Many Democrats continue to go unnoticed and unknown. An event in Sunriver on June 12, was held to bring the county’s registered Democrats together. According to the party’s website, more than 80 Democrat’s attended. Some in attendance had no idea people they already knew were members of the same party. There are currently over 6,000 Democrats in Washington County.
“I didn’t know you were a Democrat,” was reportedly said throughout the evening.
“I’m optimistic,” Blair said as he discussed his expectations for the varying political races. He was more excited about the state and national races than the local ones however, as he noted local races could be difficult.
“There are some great candidates,” Reynolds said.
Rundquist is also looking forward to the elections, and, like Seegmiller, suggested perspective voters consider other options this election season. “Republican policies have failed,” she said. “Vote for the greater good.”
Copyright 2012 St. George News.