ST. GEORGE — Vision Dixie and water conservation topped the list of issues most important to Paul Van Dam in his Democratic Party candidacy for Washington County Commission Seat B.
With his background in law and having done some of Washington County’s legal work, Van Dam said he feels like he has an edge for this specific seat on the county commission. The county is at an interesting time of transition, he said, and he wants to be the one to help the county make the right decisions to keep it from turning into Las Vegas, Phoenix or even the Wasatch Front.
Van Dam spent his career in law. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1966 and immediately joined the Army Reserve. While in the Reserve, he was trained to be a court reporter for the military, and that’s where his initial love of law began.
Most of his law experience took place in Salt Lake County where he worked as both a part-time and full-time lawyer, and he was later elected as district attorney.
While serving in that position, Van Dam said he helped modernize the DA’s office by making sure it had all the necessary technology to precisely perform what was needed.
Van Dam has never run for a second term in any elected position he’s held. He said by staying for one term, he was never obligated to anyone on the decisions he made. He could simply do what he felt was right.
He said the same will go for this position as county commissioner. If elected, he plans to serve just the one term. Every citizen should get involved with the government, he said, and no one should make a career out of an elected position.
Specifically, that starts with Vision Dixie, Van Dam said.
“It isn’t happening yet,” he said. “I would like to be the person to push Vision Dixie by adopting what people wanted.”
Rather than pushing a political agenda based on a party, Van Dam said it’s important to actually do what the people want.
Jeff Feldman, a board member of Citizens for Dixie’s Future, said Van Dam is the right man to do just that.
“He’s all about transparency,” Feldman said, “which I think is critical to this public position that he’s aspiring. I trust him to research and look into things and boil it down and tell me the executive summary. He absorbs a lot of documents. He looks at them with a lawyer’s eye.”
The development of Washington County needs to be looked at carefully, Van Dam said, otherwise “it could become the world’s worst traffic jam.”
Lake Powell Pipeline and water conservation
Van Dam said he feels like the Lake Powell Pipeline will cost more than what citizens think it will cost.
After discussing it with experts, Van Dam said the pipeline could cost up to $2 billion to construct, which doesn’t include upkeep once it’s completed. At that price and then some, it could take Washington County 50-100 years to pay it off, he said.
The key is water conservation, he said. There are plenty of opportunities to find places where Washington County citizens can conserve. Right now, Washington County has the least expensive price of water, other than Idaho, he said, and it needs to “stop giving water away.”
He said it doesn’t need to be priced outrageously, but it can still be a reasonable amount that will also force the citizens to respect that water and use it thoughtfully.
“It will take care of itself as we develop,” he said.
Van Dam said the majority of water is used on grass to keep landscapes looking fresh. While he doesn’t expect people in the county to let their yards die, he suggested more conscientious watering, and also, possibly, using more plants suited for the desert.
The landscape of his own home, he said, displays plants that are more conducive to the desert and still looks beautiful.
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