ST. GEORGE – While some legislative candidates in Washington County are running unopposed, the candidates for Senate District 29 are not. Representing the western half of Washington County, the seat is being vied for by Republican Sen. Don Ipson and Democratic challenger Dorothy Engelman.
Ipson, who has served in Utah House of Representatives for eight years, chose to run for the Utah Senate following Sen. Steve Urquhart’s announcement earlier this year that he wouldn’t seek re-election. Urquhart ultimately resigned from the senate in early-September.
Ipson, who had previously represented House District 75, was picked by the Washington County Republican Party to serve out the remainder of Urquhart’s term as interim senator. Outside of the Legislature, Ipson is the president and CEO of Dats Trucking.
A former chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, Engelman ran for House District 74 against incumbent Rep. V. Lowry Snow in 2014. Now she has put her hat into the ring for Senate District 29. She is also currently the executive director of the Erin Kimball Foundation, a nonprofit that helps survivors of domestic violence.
St. George News submitted three questions to the candidates for Senate District 29 to which their responses are listed below.
Question: If elected to the Senate 29 seat, will you continue any of the work previously pursued by former Sen. Steve Urquhart? Examples of this include: continuing support for higher education, as well as a continued support for equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the state, and seeking to abolish the death penalty.
Both Urquhart and Ipson have been supporters of higher education while in the Legislature. Both sponsored legislation that saw expanded programs at Dixie State and helped the school achieve university status. They also have supported Dixie Applied Technology College and aided in its landing a new location for a state-of-the-art campus, Ipson said.
“I believe the LGBT community should be treated equally,” he said, noting that he has friends and associates who are a part of the LGBT group. “We came to a compromise legislation last year and I believe we need to give it a chance to work.”
“The death penalty issue will continue to be reviewed,” Ipson said, adding it will be looked at during an interim legislative session and that the public will be allowed time for more input. “This is not a matter that can be decided on quickly and without research.”
Expanding the Hate Crime Amendment and abolishing the death penalty are two of former Sen. Urquhart’s bills that I would advocate for when elected. It should be noted that Rep. Ipson voted against Sen. Urquhart’s Antidiscrimination SB296 in 2015. I would also continue to work across the aisle to improve education, with emphasis on prenatal and preschool education in addition to post high school education. By concentrating on very early childhood education, many of the problems we have to deal with later in life can be circumvented by doing this.
Question: What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing the residents of Washington County, and how do you propose to address it?
Among the pressing issues in the state, Ipson listed education, public safety, transportation and heath care:
During the past two sessions of the legislature we have put nearly $1 billion of new money into public education. We must continue to put as much money as possible into the public education of our children. We need to make teachers’ salaries more attractive.
We need to continue to support public safety and provide the best training and equipment available to them. The people put their lives on the line to protect all (of) us so that we may enjoy the freedom we value.
We must continue to fund roads and transportation projects. Our economy is driven and supported by a well-maintained transportation infrastructure.
We are making a continuous effort to find equitable health care available to all.
“Uncontrolled growth is the overarching challenge facing residents of Washington County,” Engelman said, though noted issues at the county level are more the purview of city and county government and not the Legislature.
On the state level, a pressing issue Engelman pointed to was that of air quality:
Added population will stress our air quality unless the legislature proactively limits ozone and particulates in the air. I will work to extend emission-testing throughout the state, not just in the Wasatch Front. Currently, none of the three air quality monitors in the county record real-time incidents, and county government should address this. Utah Clean Cities addresses air quality by reducing petroleum use in transportation, and I support their actions as well as increasing access to public transit in the county.
Citizens’ health is directly tied to air quality and I will address ramifications and solutions across the aisle in the Senate.
Question: What does the word “integrity” mean to you?
Integrity is defined as “the quality of being and having strong moral principles and having moral uprightness.” I was taught by my parents that honesty is the most important virtue. I have tried throughout my life to do as I was taught and to not tarnish my family’s good name. I have tried to make my words and my deeds be the same. If at the end of my life, I can be known as a person of integrity, I will have lived a successful life.
Integrity means “honesty and being true to one’s moral compass,” Engelman said, and shared quotes that demonstrated integrity to her:
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not,” from Oprah Winfrey.
“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one,” from Zig Ziglar.
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