CEDAR CITY — Current Republican incumbent candidate, John Westwood, looks to continue his service in Utah House District 72 by coupling his past experience as a city councilman and bank executive with furthering legislation in the areas of veterans education, health care availability and public involvement.
A husband and father of five, Westwood was born and raised in Southern Utah. Following a mission to Northern Italy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he attended Southern Utah University and graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. Four of his children also graduated from SUU, something Westwood said he is quite proud of.
Having previously served on the Cedar City Council for nine years — as well as 10 years on the Cedar City Planning commission — Westwood said his familiarity with the area and current issues is what makes him a promising candidate for re-election.
“I think it gives credence to the fact that I know and understand the issues and the history of the issues on a local level because I’ve dealt with them,” Westwood said. “I think it’s important for people who run for a House seat to have a background of (serving) on a city council or somewhere in the city to be up to speed on what’s happening.”
Westwood has also worked as chief financial officer for the State Bank of Southern Utah for over 35 years. This experience of money management and funding has been one he said has helped him in his position in the state House of Representatives when dealing with making and keeping to budgets.
“In Cedar City, we deal with a $12 million to $13 million budget and at the state we deal with a $12 million to $13 billion budget,” he said. “The experience of dealing with budgets and going though business cycles with those budgets … gives me an understanding of business cycles and dealings. It’s a big advantage for me.”
In his previous term as a House representative, Westwood said he has used this knowledge to allocate funds for the construction of the Southwest Applied Technology College and Shakespeare theatre; as well as assisting with funding the Utah Summer Games.
In dealing with and promoting veteran’s affairs, Westwood said he has worked extensively with raising awareness of prisoners of war and veterans who are missing in action and have not returned home. He also assisted with passing a bill that allows a POW flag to be raised on certain days and places throughout the year — such as the state Capitol and other institutions.
If re-elected, Westwood said, he would like to work toward raising awareness of educational opportunities veterans may not know are available to them.
“It’s important to help them,” he said. “It’s important to get them educated and get them back to pursuing what they want to and get them every benefit we possibly can. “
He also said he would like to work to pass legislation involving annexation to help the cities and counties work closer together. This would help bring city services — such as water, sewer services and garbage removal — to people who may not be currently receiving them in the county area. Through an agreement with a city, the services would be available to those who felt they needed them.
Health care is a big issue Westwood said he would like to engage in, in the upcoming session; specifically, the service of those currently in the coverage gap. One item of discussion involving health care includes Gov. Herbert’s proposed Healthy Utah Plan.
Westwood said as long as those who can work are willing to, they should be able to work for their benefits.
“We want to hold people accountable and I agree with that,” Westwood said, “so we aren’t just passing out people’s tax dollars as an entitlement to people that could work or return services to our state.”
It is also important to Westwood that people understand they can take a direct role in becoming involved with what happens in their area. In order to have a full opinion on a subject, he said, a person should research and understand all sides of the argument. Then they can move to make change in a way they think would make the most sense. This could include attending political meetings, volunteering at events or even running for office, Westwood said. Becoming directly involved in and promoting the change they want to see is the best way to see that change.
“I think that people need the opportunity to have their voices heard,” he said. “I think it’s important that people should prepare themselves to serve in these positions.”
Elections begin on Nov. 4 where Westwood will be facing off agains Libertarian candidate Barry Short and write-in candidate Linda Lou Allen. Westwood said he encourages anyone with questions or comments regarding his current campaign to visit his website or send him an email.
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