Legislative candidates tackle state, county issues at public forum

L-R: Democratic challenger Dorothy Engelman and Republican incumbent Sen. Don Ipson and other southwest Utah legislative candidates discussed issues facing the state and Washington County at a forum hosted at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – As roads around Legend Solar Stadium became packed with attendees heading to the opening ceremonies of the Huntsman World Senior Games Tuesday evening, two Democrats and five Republicans gathered at Dixie State University nearby for a political forum.

The forum featured candidates seeking to represent – or continue representing in the case of the incumbents – southwest Utah residents in the Legislature.

L-R: Legislative candidates Dorothy Engelman, Sen. Don Ipson, Chuck Goode and Rep. Brad Last, and southwest Utah legislative candidates discussed issues facing the state and Washington County at a forum hosted at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
L-R: Legislative candidates Dorothy Engelman, Sen. Don Ipson, Chuck Goode and Rep. Brad Last discuss issues facing the state and Washington County at a forum hosted at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Candidates included Democrat Dorothy Engelman, who is running against Republican incumbent Sen. Don Ipson for Senate District 29, and Democrat Chuck Goode, running against Republican incumbent Rep. Brad Last for House District 71.

Other Republican incumbents in attendance included Reps. Lowry Snow of House District 74 and Jon Stanard of House District 62. Rep. Walt Brooks, who is running for House District 75, was also at the forum. Brooks was chosen to fill the position as an interim appointee following Ipson’s being chosen to fill the spot left by Sen. Steve Urquhart’s resignation last month. All three representatives are running unopposed.

Differences of opinion concerning various issues typically broke along party lines. Among the topics presented were points considered to be priorities for Utah voters per a recent published survey conducted by Utah Foundation, a nonpartisan group out of Salt Lake City. Additional questions were submitted by forum attendees.

At the top of the list was health care. The Democratic candidates said the Legislature should have implemented complete Medicaid expansion in the state, while the Republicans said such a program was unsustainable and causing problems in other states that had chosen full implementation.

L-R: Democratic challenger Chuck Goode and Republican incumbent Rep. Brad Last and other southwest Utah legislative candidates discussed issues facing the state and Washington County at a forum hosted at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
L-R: Democratic challenger Chuck Goode and Republican incumbent Rep. Brad Last discuss issues facing the state and Washington County at a forum hosted at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Last said a lot of people may think the Republicans in the Legislature are “a bunch of cold-hearted bums,” but he added that they had struggled a great deal with what to do about the health care situation. In the end, the Legislature came up with a compromise.

“During the last legislative session,” Ipson said, “we put together a compromise bill that dealt with the most vulnerable of those in our society.”

The compromise legislation, titled “Health Care Revisions,” is projected to cover 16,000 low-income Utahns who do not have insurance through Medicaid. Up to 63,000 Utahns are estimated to have lost insurance coverage when the Affordable Car Act went into effect, and the state chose not to expand Medicaid.

“We could have covered more people in the ensuing three years,” Engelman said.

Goode said the cost of full Medicaid in the state is sustainable due to the money the state could ultimately save on health costs.

On matters pertaining to the economy, the question of how to draw quality jobs to Washington County was put forth.

L-R: Republican incumbents Reps, Jon Stanard, Lowry Snow and Walt Brooks were also in attendence at the candidate forum hosted hosted at the Institute of Politics and Public Affairs at Dixie State University. Each candidate is running unapposed for his perspective office, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
L-R: Republican incumbents Reps. Jon Stanard, Lowry Snow and Walt Brooks were also in attendance at the candidate forum hosted by the Institute of Politics and Public Affairs at Dixie State University. Each candidate is running unopposed, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We don’t need another distribution center,” Engelman said, adding that different types of jobs need to be brought into the area. She also cited a recent study that listed St. George as being the second-worst metropolitan area in the county for wages.

“The minimum wage does not apply in Washington County,” Ipson said, further saying that employees were having trouble finding the right employees no matter the wage. For certain companies to be able to come to the county, there needs to be a well-trained and educated workforce they can draw from, he said.

“The way to bring good jobs in is through education,” Last said, advocating the need to educate children in facets of technology to better prepare them for future employment.

Goode said employers who invest in their employees by sponsoring their efforts to receive additional education or retraining should receive tax breaks.

The long-running issue of the Lake Powell Pipeline also came up. The Republicans noted their favor of the project, with the possible exception of Brooks, who said that while he supports the need for bringing more water to the county, he also wants to explore alternatives that may not be as expensive as a 140-mile long, $1 billion-$2 billion pipeline.

At the candidate forum hosted hosted at the Institute of Politics and Public Affairs at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Legislative candidates discuss issues facing the state and Washington County at a forum hosted by the Institute of Politics and Public Affairs at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Neither Democrat voiced support for the pipeline. They called the proposed project unsustainable and called for more conservation instead.

“Lake Powell is not sustainable,” Goode said. “That straw will run dry.”

Near the conclusion of the forum, a question on how to appeal to Millennial voters was asked, as they, like many before them, feel their vote may not matter.

“All the candidates on the ballot are not the same,” Engelman said, adding that voters should vote for someone like her who would listen to them. “You have to vote to have change.”

Goode also asked Millennials to vote. “Please vote, because you are actually in control.”

On the Republican side, they said every vote does matter, while also emphasizing that it is a voter’s personal responsibility to contact their representatives as well.

If you have an issue you want to ask about or want your representative involved in, contact them, they said. In turn, it is the elected officials duty responsibility to listen.

“We do answer our phones,” Snow said, noting that the legislators didn’t maintain staff to answer calls for them. When people call, it’s a direct line to their state representative.

A representative is to represent, listen and respond,” Brooks said.

Tuesday’s forum was organized, hosted and moderated by the Dixie State’s new Institute of Politics and Public Affairs and the Utah Foundation.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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16 Comments

  • Ron October 5, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Holy cow….will ya take a look at the neck on the lady in red!!
    Where did her chin go? Did she play football in college or what? WOW…..

  • beacon October 5, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Ron, I wonder if your mother would be pleased with that comment. So, you judge people on looks? I see your photo is not posted.

    • Ron October 7, 2016 at 11:18 am

      beacon, so you’re one of those liberals who likes to inject mothers into you comments? Shame on you, your mother has to be so proud of you.
      Funny, I don’t see your photo either….hypocrite. Must be a beacon of light in your own mind.

    • .... October 7, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      beacon. some people are real brave on public forums such as this when they can hide behind their keyboard

  • ladybugavenger October 5, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    It’s called: the gobbler. Just sayin’

  • Peg October 5, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Ron…must feel strange to post a comment that for some reason, you judge by looks. It also speaks volumes about your intellectual ability.

    • Ron October 7, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Peg,
      No. It does not feel strange at all. Sorry, I didn’t “judge by looks”. I merely described what I saw.
      And no, it does not speak “volumes”, I am merely living up to the name liberals have given people like me….Deplorable.
      You, no doubt, would agree wholeheartedly.

  • beacon October 6, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Perhaps it was not the “guns are bad” as much as raffling a gun at school is not appropriate or better yet raffles are illegal in Utah and set a bad example at a school in particular. Let’s get the facts straight. Also, guess you’re saying that all people should be judged by what their family members do even if those actions have absolutely nothing to do with the person themselves? If so, I suggest you be very careful because you’re not only living your own life and being responsible for your own behavior, but apparently, you’re also responsible for the behavior of those you love.

    • RealMcCoy October 6, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Perhaps she should have just minded her own business.

      He stance on guns is clear- look it up.
      She wasn’t even affiliated with the school; she just happened to see a sign and ‘got offended’.
      There is nothing wrong with raffling off a gun (it was a rifle, by the way) for a fundraiser that wasn’t even part of the school.
      Guns weren’t scary or taboo until liberals like Engelman started demonizing them.
      Teaching kids that ‘all guns are bad’ is setting a bad example.

      Raffles happen all the time in Utah. It is BETTING that is illegal (like the horse race betting that got shut down).
      Yes, her husbands record is important, because he works with her AND her reaction to his crimes were “That’s very, very out of character for Gary,” then proceeded to make excuses for his actions.

      So kids that she doesn’t know and were raising money for their sports team requires her intervention and ultimately getting it shut down, but her HUSBAND caught STEALING numerous times is just an oversight?

      And yes, I am responsible for the behavior of those I love IF THEY LIVE IN MY HOUSE.

      Get your facts straight.

      • beacon October 6, 2016 at 6:23 pm

        Good luck with that being responsible for others whether they live in your house or not. Hope that works out for you. Raffles are illegal in Utah and are considered gambling. Get YOUR facts straight. Her stance on guns (or rifles or anything that fires ammunition, if we must be specific for you) may be anti but that does not make the raffle appropriate and in fact is in keeping with her stance. She may not have been affiliated with the school but we all have the right to speak out about what occurs in our schools as long as our taxes are used to fund those institutions.

        • Ron October 7, 2016 at 11:10 am

          beacon, so what part of the 2nd amendment does Engelman not understand about “not be infringed”? She is “anti” and she has the right to speak out about her antiness. Just like I have the right to describe her neck any way I want. Don’t like it…too bad, so what? Undo the bunch in your panties, get over it. Got to live up to my liberal name…Deplorable!!!

        • RealMcCoy October 19, 2016 at 5:49 pm

          Your comments are asinine. Of course you are responsible for the people in your house.

          Raffles are held everywhere in Utah- in grocery stores, and festivals, and even city events sometimes.
          You don’t get to pick and choose what raffle is acceptable.
          Get YOUR facts straight.

  • Bob October 6, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    so the republicans all want to build the big pipe. what does this tell us? why is it always republicans that want massively liberal and wasteful gigantic gov’t projects? get ready for a $200+ monthly water bill and the rest of the costs tacked onto property tax hikes.

    • .... October 7, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      Oh really Bob ? $200 a month water bill ? LOL you really have reached out on this on …..LOL $200 + a month.

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