Democratic candidates seek to bring different perspective to Utah House, County Commission

(L-R) Cheryl Hawker, Dorothy Engelman, Shirley Nelson, St. George, Utah, March 20, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

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.

County Commission

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.

(L-R) Chris White, Dorothy Engelman, Cheryl Hawker, St. George, Utah, March 20, 2014 | Photo By Mori Kessler, St. George News
(L-R) Chris White, Dorothy Engelman, Cheryl Hawker, St. George, Utah, March 20, 2014 | Photo By Mori Kessler, St. George News

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.


Related posts

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

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  • bsmeter March 21, 2014 at 10:14 am

    It doesn’t matter which party is in power. We need to do away with the two party system. Let people vote for candidates that are not corrupted by big business or swayed by lobbyists. Money should not separate a prospective candidate from running for office. Being rich does not equal moral, intelligent, or ethical.

  • marianne mansfield March 21, 2014 at 11:11 am

    So glad to see smart women running for office. It is more than time for women and minorities to have a voice in the decisions that impact us.

    • O'Really March 21, 2014 at 11:46 am

      I have to wonder just how smart anyone is, who is willing to go through all the BS of running for any office.

  • E P March 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Why is having women and minorities a good thing? Isn’t it better to just have the best candidate regardless of race or gender? Or we can just further separate everyone into their own little catagories until true unity is impossible.

    • bsmeter March 21, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Absolutely !

    • beacon March 24, 2014 at 11:06 am

      This is a question worth asking. However, I would answer this way. When my boss asked me into his office during a discussion about affirmative action with his supervisors to explain why it’s important and to share my thought, I was surprised, thinking it was a set up, which it was not Anyway, I explained that we all have biases of which we probably aren’t even aware. If a male supervisor gets applications from a variety of people including both male and female, most men – in my opinion – will give the man a bit of an edge because of “identifying with that sex” more than female. The applicant may not be better or more suited than the female, but may be unfairly – and unconsciously – viewed that way. So, yes, it is important to have all people included in our political positions. In an area in which white males normally rule politically, it is important to have other opinions and views in the mix. That rarely happens, however, as we see in the current state of city and county government positions in Washington County.

    • Maggie March 29, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      You just make to much sense.

  • DoubleTap March 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Seems like former Mayor McArthur cannot get enough. The taste of power has left him yearning for more. Yet look at what his last couple of years as Mayor got him. Do the residents of Washington County really want more of him as a county commissioner? If you think his effort at the City level code enforcement mess is behind him, think again. Now imagine it at the County level county wide. Mr. McArthur should roll up his sleeves and now that he has the time, should go clean up the mess he has at Interstate Steel over on Telegraph. It is an eyesore. Why doesn’t the City enforce the code violations at his place of business? Power does funny things to people. Namely, makes them think they are above the law.

    • Brian March 21, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      My friend owns a business near McArthur Welding. The city code enforcement people would come around and try to ticket him for this or that. He’d walk them outside and point out the exact same infractions on the mayors business. They always went away with their tail between their legs.

      I’m disgusted that he’s running for county commission. We need people in office that understand the proper role of government (limited).

  • FairVoter March 22, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Voters who desire fair elections should ask candidates with the potential ability to upgrade election laws about their positions on spoiler-proof and gerrymander-proof ranked-choice voting and proportional representation.

    In my experience, identity politicians (those who campaign on gender or race) rarely support the procedural changes that have proven to elect more women and racial minorities to office — usually out of loyalty to the bipartisan duopoly.

    For more information about these more inclusive electoral systems, check out FairVote: The Center for Voting and Democracy (

  • DoubleTap March 24, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Please keep in mind that it was Dorothy Engelman who went nuts because a local high school group was raffleing off a firearm for a fundraiser for a team to go onto a competition. Ms. Engelman was successful in having the raffle stopped.
    Ms. Engelman is anti- 2nd amendment and was probably wishing the high school group would have given away a free abortion from Planned Parenthood instead.

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