ST. GEORGE – With Thursday being the final day people could file their candidacy for political office, the county clerk offices across the state were blitzed by prospective candidates seeking county, state, and national-level positions. The Washington County Clerk’s Office was no exception. While the field is blistering with Republicans, the Democrats are also making a showing.
Four members of the Washington County Democratic Party threw their names into the growing field of candidates for county and state seats late Thursday morning.
Three women – Shirley Nelson, Dorothy Engelman, and Cheryl Hawker – filed to run on the Democratic ticket for Utah House Districts 62, 74 and 75. Filing to run for Washington County Commission Seat A is Chris White, who will be challenging Republican incumbent James Eardley.
As the day wore on, Ken Anderson, of LaVerkin, filed for Utah House District 71, and former Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam filed for Washington County Commission Seat B.
Utah House candidates
“We’re really excited to be running three women for the House,” Engelman said. Engelman, who is also chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, will be running against Republican incumbent Rep. V. Lowry Snow.
Engelman said she is running to help bring a different perspective to Utah politics, as well as to help keep diversity in the legislature. Currently, women make up 16 percent of the Utah House, and 17 percent in the state Senate. A number of those women legislators are retiring from office, she said.
“I just felt it was important to have a different perspective,” Engelman said.
She will focus on issues facing women, such as domestic violence and pay inequality, Engelman said, while also standing against fracking for oil on public lands, as well as addressing continuing water issues in the state. She does not believe in a need for the Lake Powell Pipeline, but rather that smart conservation and paying the true value of water are the answers for the county’s ongoing needs.
Someone else who is also against the pipeline is Shirley Nelson. She is running for House District 62, which is currently held by Republican incumbent Jon Stanard.
“Lake Powell’s not the answer,” Nelson said.
Places like St. George are growing too fast, Nelson said. With all the new subdivisions popping up, the question of where the water for those developments is going to come from needs to be asked. Like Engelman, she believes conservation measures should be used, along with paying the real cost of water rather than having it subsidized by impact fees. She also supports keeping oversight of Utah’s public lands in the hands of the federal government.
As for the Affordable Healthcare Act, Nelson supports it, as well equal pay for women and rights for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
She also hopes to add diversity of opinion to the Utah Legislature, Nelson said, and that she can work towards a nonpartisan solution on issues.
Nelson worked for 35 years at Hill Air Force Base as a logistics manager for air crew training systems.
LGBT rights is a primary focus of Cheryl Hawker, who is running for House District 75 against Republican incumbent Don Ipson. Formerly a member of the Republican Party, then an Independent, Hawker said she joined the Democratic Party because of its support of gay rights.
“There are a few of us that believe our gay friends have rights,” Hawker said. By contrast, she said, she knows some neighbors who feel the LGBT community “shouldn’t have rights.”
Hawker listed LGBT rights has her No. 1 issue, followed by empowering women in the state. She wants young women to feel they don’t have to be married and start a family right out of high school. Instead, she encourages them to get an education and a career first. The economy overall is also a focus for Hawker, whose own family owns and operates a general contracting business.
A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hawker said the LDS Church has an undue amount of political influence in the state. Hawker mentioned the church’s influence on lawmakers as far as LGBT matters in particular.
A native of Southern Utah, Hawker calls herself a “good ole girl” and said she will be able to represent Democrats and Independents in the Legislature.
Together, Engelman called the trio “three for the future.”
Anderson of LaVerkin will be challenging Republican incumbent Brad Last for Utah House District 71. He was unavailable for comment as this report is published.
Chris White ran against incumbent County Commissioner Alan Gardner in 2012. Now he’s aiming for Commissioner Eardley’s seat.
White said jokingly that he decided to run for the position again because no one else from his party was running. Still, he said he hopes to add another voice to the commission that would spark debate on issues.
Most of all, White said, “I have the opportunity and the duty to run again.”
White said the focus of his campaign would not be much different from that of two years ago. He still advocates for a county animal shelter staffed by inmates of the Purgatory Correctional Facility. He said such programs help cut down on inmates’ rate of recidivism a great deal. “It’s a great idea,” he said.
He also seeks to outsource to the private sector certain service and programs currently overseen by the county, he said.
As for the Lake Powell Pipeline, White said he was neither for nor against it at this point, but rather is continuing to research it. However, he would like to see the matter put up for a referendum after the public is given ample opportunity to learn more about the pipeline. If the public votes in support of the pipeline after being educated on the matter, White said he would support it.
“How can you be for or against something you don’t understand?” White said.
Also running for Washington County Commission Seat A are Republicans Greg Aldred, Mark Boyer, Slade Hughes and Zachery Renstrom.
Paul Van Dam, who served as Utah Attorney General from 1989-92, has filed for Washington County County Seat B. Commissioner Denny Drake currently holds that seat, but did not file for re-election. Van Dam will be vying for the seat against Republican candidates Chet Hughes, former Sen. Mike Lee advisor Victor Iverson, and former St. George Mayor Dan McArthur.
Van Dam was also unavailable for comment as this report goes to publication.
Utah’s 2nd U.S. Congressional District
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, has filed for re-election. Challenging him for the congressional office on the Democratic ticket is Sen. Luz Robles, of Salt Lake City.
Stewart also faces three Republican challengers – Larry Meyers, Zachary Hartman, and Vaughn Hatton – as well as Shaun McCausland of the Constitution Party, Wayne Hill of the Independent American Party, and Bill Barron.
- List of candidates filed in Washington County, courtesy of the Washington County Clerk’s Office
- State listing of candidates, via the Lt. Governor’s Office.
- County Democratic caucus focuses on issues, involvement
- Larry Meyers announces run for U.S. House against Stewart
- Lee advisor resigns, seeks nomination for county commissioner
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