ST. GEORGE – Saturday, Dorothy Engelman, Democratic candidate for Utah House District 74, held a campaign kickoff in Bloomington Park, off of Man-of-War Road in St. George.
“If you look at our local voting turnout, I think people feel it doesn’t make a difference,” Engelman said. “I want to give them a reason to feel voting makes a difference this time.”
Engelman said she was hoping to not only capitalize on the success of Democrats like Jim Matheson but also show the Independents she is the right woman for the job.
“I think we need more voices in the state Legislature,” Engelman said. “We need a legislature that is not so monotone,and essentially speaks with one voice. We see in the state Legislature the same thing we are seeing in the federal Legislature: It’s extremely partisan.”
It’s also very important to get more women into politics, Engelman said. Sixty-one percent of women work outside the home, she said, yet less than 16 percent of all elected positions in Utah are held by women. Most of those positions are small-town leaders. Women need more of a voice in the state legislature, she said.
Engelman also talked about local influences and politics; she said:
Oftentimes, the voices that we hear from Southern Utah are voices who have been here a long time. When you look at the population, especially in my district, more than 50 percent of those have lived here 15 years or less. They are not folks who were born here with the red sand beneath their toes; they are people who chose to come here for a reason. They like what they saw and want to make things better.
A former high school and college educator, Engelman said education is at the top of the three biggest issues she wants to focus on.
“We have to find some more money for schools,” Engelman said. “There are some ways to do this.”
Engelman said every state around Utah has put a severance tax on natural resources that come out of the ground – natural resources that are not renewable like coal, gas or oil. Utah does not tax the coal that comes out of the ground. Engelman said we let the folks that take it out take it for free. Oil and gas have a severance tax, but coal does not.
The next issue Engelman addressed was the environment.
“Our environment is something that is extremely important, and we have to preserve that,” Engelman said. “As you come down I-15 from Cedar City into St. George, we are now seeing haze build up over the area.”
If population projections are correct, that haze could get much worse, Engelman said; we only have one permanent air quality monitoring system in the area.
“I think, as a state, we need to start monitoring our air quality down here,” Engelman said.
She said water conservation is also a very important part of the environment; however, she feels there are other options, besides building a pipeline, that won’t cost our future generations in the long run.
She added that the state of Utah Department of Transportation needs to start planning long term for public transportation in Washington, Iron and Kane Counties. As Washington County grows, she said, so will the other two.
The last of the issues Engelman addressed was the economy.
“We need to look into clean, diverse jobs for this area,” Engelman said. “That means technology.”
Engelman said if you look at the demographics of what new employers are looking for, one thing Southern Utah currently can’t supply is high-tech workers.
“We need to appeal to economy and business that can come in here and work on a smaller scale,” she said. “We are a perfect spot for telecommuting.”
Engelman closed by saying she wants to be “a new voice for Southern Utah, because more voices will make Utah Better.”
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