ST. GEORGE — Zachary Hartman has never held public office and he admits that he’s a terrible politician, yet he is vying for Chris Stewart’s position as U.S. Congressional House District 2’s representative for Utah. He is joined by fellow candidates vying for Stewart’s seat, Vaughn Hatton and Larry Meyers, all four of whom will seek the Utah Republican Party’s nomination Saturday.
Hartman, who lives in North Salt Lake but spends loads of time working and playing in Southern Utah, is known for being brutally honest, quick-witted and blunt, and aims to bring this energy to the political arena.
Hartman doesn’t shy away from being blunt, even if you disagree with him. “We need to start changing the way we have a dialogue,” Hartman said. “When you say something, you’ve got to mean it, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.”
In fact, Hartman believes that disagreement is very healthy in every relationship, be it personal, political or business related.
“Zach’s one of the guys I can always count on to say, ‘hey, you’re being stupid,’” Hartman’s friend and associate St. George resident Dave Nasal said.
Nasal has worked closely with Hartman for the past seven years in real estate and said that although they often don’t agree, he knows that Hartman will always be honest and forthright with him.
“I may not agree with him but I don’t have to worry about some hidden agenda,” Nasal said. “I always know where he stands.”
Although Hartman has no official political experience, he’s worked closely with federal, state, and local policy makers for most of his career and advises many of them on land issues.
By title, Hartman is a real estate broker – but on a grand scale. Hartman brokers huge transactions such as Victory Ranch, a 667-lot luxury development near Park City, and Fox Hollow, an 828-lot development on the edge of Utah Lake. His job is to know all the complex details of large scale land deals, and to objectively advise the entities involved – many of these are government entities.
“When you’re doing that across the country,” Hartman said, “you get to see the good and the bad effects that the government has on the free market, and the effects it has on planning and citizens.”
By doing so, he has become well-versed in the legal disparities between different government entities.
Some cities have a more “free run” market, Hartman said, while other cities have very strict zoning laws. Some cities cooperate with growth, some don’t. Some cities give away too much and some don’t give away enough, he said.
Aside from being involved with various governments at work, he has always studied our political system. He’s a caucus member, a voter, has a bachelor’s degree in political science and has been involved with city councils.
“He really cares whats going on,” Nasal said.
When Hartman decided to run for federal office, A lot of his friends and associates wondered why he would to that, Nasal said. “It’s a waste of two years of a good real estate market,” Nasal said. “You can do a lot more productive things financially than that.”
But Hartman’s decision to run for office was motivated by his desire to help. Hartman felt very blessed with the way things had gone for him, he told Nasal, and he wanted to take a couple years to see if he could help make a better political system, Nasal said.
Although Hartman sees many issues with the current political system, he refrained from bashing it. In fact, one of his major campaign goals is to bring optimism to politics. However, with his experience working very closely inside the political system, he has realized many of the problems with it, he said, that put a stranglehold on the free market.
Hartman thoroughly believes in a free market, he said. He’s also adamant that the federal government is over-reaching.
“I’m a patriot,” Hartman said, “I love this country, but I also believe in leaving people alone and respecting their individual choices and agency.”
Although a Republican, Hartman has some nontraditional Republican views, most notably his stance on illegal immigration and gay marriage.
“I would never put anybody on a truck if you’re trying to make a better living,” Hartman said of deporting illegal immigrants. If you bring in more money then you cost the country, Hartman said, you should be able to be a U.S. citizen with a few steps.
Hartman believes we should absolutely secure the border, he said, but thinks we spend too much money on it.
On gay marriage, Hartman believes that it is fundamentally wrong to not allow gay people certain rights.
“Everyone should be entitled to create the family they want to create,” Hartman said. He believes that marriage in general should be removed from the oversight of the government, and said and that fighting this battle will be very adverse to the Republican party in the long term.
Ed. CORRECTION: Featured image initially set had incorrect congressional map, reset 6:42 p.m.
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