ST. GEORGE – Candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties held post-election events at St. George venues Tuesday night while waiting for votes to be counted, Republicans at the Hampton Inn and Democrats at ‘Bout Time. Both parties were hoping for a large volume of voter turnout in the midterm election.
Incumbents and newcomers also voted in nonpartisan races, Washington County School Board and Proposition 3 – the Recreation Arts and Parks, or RAP, tax that passed with 51 percent of the vote.
Statewide, voters helped the GOP retain control of the state’s Congressional delegation. Voters also chose to keep the current Utah Attorney General another two years.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
“We are hoping to do as well as we did in 2010 in voter turnout,” Washington County Republican Party Chairman Nick Lang said. “Voter turnout is so important.”
Results started coming in to the county website shortly after the polls closed, indicating that Republican candidates across the board took an early lead in every race.
There are 67,259 registered voters in the Washington County, with 28,827 reportedly voting on Election Day. This represents a 42 percent voter turn out for the county, according to the Washington County Clerk’s Office.
By comparison, the 2010 midterm elections brought out 59 percent of the county’s registered voters.
Republican Rep. Jon Stanard won House Seat 62 over Democratic challenger Shirley J. Nelson, taking nearly 81 percent of the votes.
Rep. Brad Last defeated his Democratic opponent, Kenneth Roderick Anderson with nearly 80 percent of the votes to keep House seat 71
Republicans V. Lowry Snow and Don Ipson won their positions in House Seats 74 and 75, at 76 and 66 percent respectively, defeating Democrats Dorothy A. Engelman and Cheryl Fae Hawker.
Also running to House 75 was Independent American Party candidate Nihla Judd who came in slightly above Hawker, and was the only third party candidate running for the Legislature in Washington County.
County Commission Races
Republican Zachary D. Renstrom took an early lead over his Democratic opponent Chris White, getting 76 percent of the votes for County Commission Seat A, while Republican incumbent Victor Iverson acquired 74 percent of the votes against his opponent Democrat Paul Van Dam.
White conceded the race with no regrets, he said in an email, acknowledging many amazing experiences and new relationships he has formed and thanking those who supported him.
“There is good news,” White wrote, adding:
“I have gotten to know Zack Renstrom and believe he will engage the citizens. He represents a move in the right direction from our current leadership. I congratulate him on his victory and I look forward to the good that I believe he will offer Washington County and it’s citizens.”
Neither Renstrom nor Iverson had run for office before. Iverson was appointed to his position after Commissioner Denny Drake stepped down to go on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A positive experience
Candidates from both parties commented on the positive election process in Washington County, noting that opponents were polite and the voting public was friendly and inviting. One candidate who was canvassing door-to-door was even invited in for dinner.
“Everybody is really positive. In fact one family invited me in for dinner,” Renstrom said. “I sat down for family dinner and as they asked me questions, they fed me. It was great.”
Only the beginning
Democratic candidates Engelman and Hawker both stated this race was only the beginning for Democrats in Southern Utah. Though Engelman recently held the position as the county party’s chair, this was her first time running for political office.
This was also a first time for Hawker. She stated she’s in for the long haul. She plans to run again in four years.
The Washington County Democratic Party had set a goal early on to have a candidate running in each of the state and local races. Though some county candidates ran unopposed, Engelman said she was very pleased with the results of that goal.
“One of the things that we are really going to work on is more precinct organization,” Engelman said. “It’s difficult when you don’t have those leadership positions in place.”
Despite White’s no-regrets concession, if there was one sticking point for him, it was the low voter turnout.
“I am sadden by low voter turn out and lack of public engagement,” White said. “Voters feel it a civic duty to vote but feel no moral obligation to become informed. Very few take the time to get to know the candidates or issues. Citizens hide behind straight party voting hoping to conceal their indolence.”
School Board races
Larene L. Cox beat opponent Brent Holloway with 55 percent of the vote for School Board 4.
David B. Stirland won 63 percent against Eileen McKell for School Board 5, while incumbent Kelly Blake defeated challenger Peato “Pat” L. Ena for School Board 6 with 82 percent of the vote.
Laura Hesson retained the School Board 7 seat against Scott P. Robison at 60 percent of the vote.
When the votes initially came in, the majority of them were against the RAP tax, but only by a thin margin of 51-to-49 percent. As the eventing continued and new votes were tallied, that number filled and largely remained steady by 11 p.m. when the official numbers for the county were announced.
In the end, the measure for the new tax passed with 14,346 votes for it and 13,702 votes against.
The RAP tax will take 1 cent off of every $10 spent in the county. Monies generated from the tax will go to the county and participating municipalities based on population and point-of-sale. The money will then be applied to various recreation, arts and parks projects. Nonprofit and other organizations related to those fields can also apply for grants from the RAP tax through the county or the cities in which they exist.
The tax is anticipated to generate $2.2 million annually, and will be in effect for 10 years.
State and congressional races
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was appointed to the position after John Swallow’s resignation in November 2013, was elected to serve the remaining two years of what would have been his predecessor’s original term in office. Reyes defeated Democratic challenger Charles Stormont after getting 63 percent of the vote.
Former Attorneys General Swallow and Mark Shurtleff have been charged with felony criminal counts related to accusations of corruption. Reyes and other public officials have previously stated these accusations damaged the trust and credibility of the Utah Attorney General’s Office in the eyes of the public. As reported by Deseret News, Reyes sees his victory as a sign the public’s trust is coming back.
“I think it reflects the people’s trust that we’ve started to win back, and the hard work that we’ve put in,” Reyes said according to Deseret News.
Third party challengers for attorney general included Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough, Gregory G. Hansen of the Constitution Party, and Leslie D. Curtis of the Independent American Party.
On the congressional level, incumbent Republican Reps. Rob Bishop of District 1, Chris Stewart of District 2, and Jason Chaffetz of District 3, were each re-elected. Republican congressional candidate Mia Love took District 4 after a close race against Democratic challenger Doug Owens.
Love replaces outgoing Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson who announced last year he wouldn’t seek re-election. Love’s election has been called historic as she will be the first black Republican woman in Congress. The race between Love and Owens was close, with Love eventually landing 50 percent of the vote to Owens’ 47 percent.
Stewart won against Democratic challenger Luz Robles. For a time, the race was rather close until Stewart came out ahead of Robles and won with 60 percent of the vote.
Third party candidates also involved in the 2nd Congressional District race included Shawn McCausland of the Constitution Party, Wayne L. Hill of the Independent American Party, and unaffiliated candidate Bill Barron.
Unofficial results of Tuesday’s election for Washington County votes only can be viewed here. Statewide results for state offices, all counties and districts can be found here.
Certified results will be available after the official canvas.
St. George News Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.
- All St. George News reports related to Election 2014
- FINAL: Washington County votes, election night – tallies for Washington County voters only
- Lt. Governor’s midterm election results, Washington County – includes statewide, district-wide tallies
- Lt. Governor’s midterm election results, Iron County
- Lt. Governor’s midterm election results, Kane County
- Lt. Governor’s midterm election results, Garfield County
- Lt. Governor’s midterm election results, Beaver County
- Lt. Governor’s midterm election results, San Juan County
- Land users angry about land swap, county may consider alternatives
- Let’s rap about tax, RAP tax that is
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