CEDAR CITY – When it comes to gun ownership one congressional candidate this election believes the Constitution is “outdated.”
Voters had a chance to meet with Democratic candidate Charlene Albarran during a town hall meeting at the Cedar City Library Saturday. Albarran is running against incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart for Utah’s Congressional 2nd District.
The heated issue of public lands took up a good part of the hourlong conversation as the Democratic voters in the room largely opposed any legislative action to transfer the lands to the state.
“They (federal government) say their No. 1 expense is fighting forest fires. So with the forest fires that goes into millions of dollars. We all know we have forest fires in Utah,” Albarran said. “If it came back to the states, is the state ready to pay millions of dollars to put out forest fires? I don’t think our state can afford it. We can’t even afford education. So I don’t think so. We do need the federal government in that sense.”
Albarran agreed that the public lands should remain under federal management, as she fears any move to give them to the state would result in selling the lands off to fracking companies and for real estate development.
She stressed the need, however, for balance. Albarran said she believes in compromise and viable solutions that won’t hurt the public lands but also takes into consideration the various stakeholders such as the ranchers.
“I will work on a bipartisan cooperation level to reach a common ground,” she said.
While Albarran did not spend a lot of time criticizing her opponent, she did voice her disapproval of a legislative bill introduced by Stewart in 2015 regarding federal law enforcement agencies. If the bill had passed, it would have disarmed federal police officers with jurisdiction over public lands.
Her opposition raised positive comments from the constituency in the room who said they were glad to know the bill did not go through.
One man pointed to the illegal marijuana grows that law enforcement have busted in years past on public lands as reason enough to keep the officers armed.
“One of the things that doesn’t make the news is the public lands now being used to grow illegal pot,” he said. “I think the forest service spends 10 percent of their budget on doing away with these illegal pot farms.”
The conversation prompted Albarran, without being asked, to tell the voters she supports citizens owning guns “responsibly,” and added she would like as much added to the Second Amendment.
“I do defend the Second Amendment frankly,” Albarran said. “I’m a different kind of Democrat. I’m a Utah Democrat.”
Albarran said she thinks the Constitution is a wonderful document but feels it is a little “outdated.”
The Democratic candidate was also forthright about her feelings on the proposed Bears Ears national monument, currently under consideration by the Obama administration.
Albarran said while she believes strongly in bipartisan efforts on these types of issues, she adamantly supports the monument designation.
“It is not a Utah issue. It’s a national issue, even a worldwide issue because it has the history of mankind there,” Albarran said. “The sacred burial grounds, the artifacts, the arrowheads – that’s history of our civilization before America was settled with immigrants. So that is very important to our history.”
Other questions during the meeting surrounded issues concerning social security and immigration.
Brittanie Parry, vice chair for the Iron County Democratic Party, said she was glad for the opportunity to talk with Albarran.
Parry said she knows it’s not likely her candidate will win in Utah where Republicans control the majority vote, but she’s still holding out hope.
Regardless, Parry said she believes the party has to continue to introduce qualified candidates who can work with the Republicans.
“We definitely need someone. Being a Democrat in Utah you realize you’re a minority and you have to be willing to work with Republicans,” Parry said. “You can’t look at each of them as though they’re evil. We have to work together and I think that would help Utah. We can’t have one party running everything. And I think she’s someone who’s willing to work with everyone.”
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