County Democrats gather for pre-convention meet-and-greet

Generic image, does not reflect the convention held in St. George, Utah, April 11

ST. GEORGE – Washington County Democrats got together for a pre-convention meet-and-greet with several of the party’s candidates at the home of Della Lowe in the Entrada neighborhood of St. George Friday. Lowe has been nominated to succeed Dorothy Engleman as chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, as Engleman resigned to run for Utah’s House of Representatives in District 74.

Charles A. Stormont

Charles A. Stormont, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, St. George Utah, undated photo | Photo provided by  Stormont4AG.com, St. George News
Charles A. Stormont, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, St. George Utah, undated photo | Photo provided by Stormont4AG.com, St. George News

Charles A. Stormont, 37, is one of five candidates running for Attorney General. He will be running against Republican incumbent Sean Reyes who was appointed following John Swallow’s resignation.  Gregory Hansen is running on the Constitution Party ticket. Les Curtis is running on the Independent American ticket, and Andrew McCullough is running on the Libertarian ticket.

This is Stormont’s first run for office. He has been employed by the state of Utah for six years.  He has been frustrated over what has transpired in the Attorney General’s Office for the last year.

“I feel very strongly that we need an independent pair of hands managing the office,” Stormont said.

He also wants to serve his state well and leave a positive legacy for his children, Claire, 5, and Charlie, 3, he said.

A major issue the Attorney General’s office is dealing with right now is Amendment 3, Utah’s same-sex marriage case up on appeal.

“Amendment 3 is in front of the 10th Circuit (Court of Appeals) right now, and it will be tied up for several months,” Stormont said. “It really concerns me that we are spending so much money on fighting a battle that really does not have a chance of standing up in court.”

The arguments put together by the state, are not meritorious to this case, he said.

Stormont’s other concern is regarding the current structure of the Attorney General’s Office.

“The way the office is structured right now creates opportunities for the types of problems we had over the past year,” he said. “We need to get to work to make sure those problems don’t happen again.”

“There are a lot of incredible public servants there, who are doing the work everyday,” he said. “We need to make everybody understand what the job is and make sure that no one has an opportunity to exploit anything or anyone.”

Stromont addressed the group saying, “I’m not a radical voice, not a political, but an independent voice on the hill.”

Dorothy Engleman

Dorothy Engleman, Democratic Candidate for House District 74, St. George, Utah, undated photo | Photo provided by Dorothy for HD74, St. George News
Dorothy Engleman, Democratic Candidate for House District 74, St. George, Utah, undated photo | Photo provided by Dorothy for HD74, St. George News

Dorothy Engleman was looking for people to run for positions on the Democratic ticket when she was asked to speak to a group of ladies at Dixie State University about women getting involved in politics.

When asked how someone gets involved in the political world, Engleman shared this advice: “Find your passion, find your voice and put on your shoes and run.” It was at that moment, she said, that she realized she would be running for House Representative in district 74.

Engleman’s experience as the chairman of Washington County Democrats has shown her that it is time for her to step up and offer a true option for constituents living in the district.

“It’s not so much that I’m running against someone. I’m running for the state of Utah and to bring a new voice to Southern Utah,” Engleman said.

The last legislative session didn’t get a lot done, she said. There were no decisions on MediCare. There are still 124,000 people uninsured in the state and very little was done in the area of education, she said.

Other concerns she has are in the areas of air quality, the failure of anti-discrimination bill, S.B. 100, introduced by Senator Steve Urqurhart, and the mismanagement of the Attorney General’s Office.

“I’m in it to win it,” Engleman said. “And I will be the new voice from Southern Utah.” Engleman will be running against incumbent V. Lowry Snow.

Shirley Nelson

Shirley Nelson, Democratic Candidate for House District 62, St. George, Utah undated photo | Photo provided by Shirley Nelson, St. George News
Shirley Nelson, Democratic Candidate for House District 62, St. George, Utah undated photo | Photo provided by Shirley Nelson, St. George News

Shirley Nelson is running for Utah House District 62. She has lived in Utah for 40 years, and St. George for three years.

“The main reason I’m running is because I love the state of Utah,” Nelson said. “It has the greatest concentration of natural wonders in the world.”

Nelson’s primary concern is the state’s environmental issues.

“The GOP-controlled legislature has done nothing. They’ve let air pollution blanket the Wasatch Front,” she said. “They’ve done nothing to stop the major polluters up there.”

The 2014 legislature failed to pass eight different bills that would have addressed air pollution, she said. “My first step will be to try to reintroduce those into the legislature.”

“I do believe that climate change is a fact,” Nelson said.  “And without clean air and clean drinking water nothing else matters.”

Other issues concerning Nelson are the needed implementation of water conservation plans, saying no to the Lake Powell Pipeline and master plans for growth. She cited the construction of a Jiffy Lube and Maverick Gas Station on River Road and 1450 South, in an area along the Virgin River that has flooded before.

“Growth is inevitable,” Nelson said, “but we need to control it.”

Nelson will be running against incumbent Jon Stanard.

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

Cheryl Fae Hawker

Cheryl Fae Hawker is running for Utah House 75.  Her primary interests are education, equality and environment.

“In education I have a goal to try to reset our economy and the way our budgets are disbursed,” Hawker said. “I really want to focus on higher education.”

Hawker would like to make college more affordable for lower- and middle-income families.

“People are working real hard and doing everything the right way, but they still can’t afford to send their kids to college because they don’t qualify for student loans or grants, but they are not making enough money to pay cash,” Hawker said.

That has to change in order to narrow the gap between the top one percent and the lower- and middle-income families, she said.

Equal rights for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals are Hawker’s second area of concern.

“LGBT rights are a very huge issue for me,” she said. “Especially with (Attorney General) Sean Reyes has done everything that he’s been doing, especially with adoptions.” Huffington Post

“I’m an adopted child, and when I heard that he wanted to rip these families apart and nullify these adoptions, I kind of lost it,” Hawker said.

She has been working with State Senator Jim Dubakis to try to get everything figured out, Hawker said.

Utah is at a pivotal state to make a big change for the better for the LGBT community, she said.

“We have to make as much noise as possible to make difference and to sway (10th Circuit Court of Appeals) judge’s decisions.”

Millions of Utah dollars have gone to fight this battle when other states have backed out because it wasn’t worth the money for them to fight, she said.

Hawker is also concerned about the Southern Utah environment.

“We have a haze that sits here in the valley,” she said. “When I drive down into town from Winchester Hills, I drive through this little cloud.  It looks like I’m driving down into Los Angeles,” she said.

She’s been doing some research on what needs to be done.

“I’d like to jump on (St. George Mayor) Jon Pike’s  bandwagon and bring recycling into the whole county, not just the city,” she said.

“I’m a go-getter. I’m very active, and I know I can get so much more done.”

Hawker is running against incumbent Don Ipson.

Paul Van Dam

Paul Van Dam is the only Democrat running for County Commission Seat B. Van Dam moved to St. George 7 years ago from the Wasatch Front. He is concerned about Washington County’s current rate of growth.

Van Dam is a great supporter of Vision Dixie, but doesn’t think it has been well implemented.

“Vision Dixie is brilliant,” Van Dam said. “It’s what should happen in every community that cares about quality of life issues, about traffic, about air, about transportation, all the things that make up a healthy community.”

In time, Van Dam has discovered that, even though Vision Dixie has been adopted, nothing is being done to implement it.

“The county went through a year-long process to establish Vision Dixie. The County Commission sponsored it, and all of the cities adopted the principles, but virtually no one is doing it,” he said. “Vision Dixie needs a champion.”

Van Dam also stated that we don’t need the Lake Powell Pipeline, but we need to use the water we do have wisely.

“We use more water here, per capita, then any southwestern city,” Van Dam said. “We don’t stress water conservation enough.”

Van Dam has found that the uniformity of the Republican politicians on the commission and in city government does not talk about the need to conserve, he said.

“Market forces, home builders and suppliers, will say, ‘let’s just make one sprawling community after another’ until they fill up the county,” Van Dam said. The uniqueness of this community will not allow for that to happen. Bluffs, ravines, anticlines and arroyos that make up Washington County’s topography prevents they type of sprawl, he said.

Van Dam does recognize that builders are taking a more conservative approach when considering landscaping of new homes. With continuation of that and active implementation of Vision Dixie, Washington County will start to make great strides  toward better conservation and environmental improvements.

Van Dam will face the Republican challenger who wins the nomination through the Republican convention and primary.

Each of these candidates will face their opponents in the November General Election.

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