ST. GEORGE – Utah voters heading to their polling locations Nov. 8, or those who are voting by mail-in ballot will have the opportunity to vote for one of three choices to fill the United States Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mike Lee.
Lee, the Republican incumbent, has held the seat since January of 2011. This year he is joined on the ballot by Democratic candidate Misty K. Snow; and Bill Barron, an unaffiliated, single-issue candidate dedicated to bringing attention to climate change.
St. George News spoke with each candidate to find out what they feel are the most important issues facing Utah voters, what makes them uniquely qualified to serve in the senate and how they feel about term limits.
This year’s election cycle has brought up several pertinent issues facing voters; government spending, public lands, climate change and women’s rights among them. Each of the three candidates were asked what they feel is the primary issue facing Utah voters. Below are their responses.
The most important issue for the people of Utah is that the government spends too much, is too big and owns too much of the land in our state. Two-thirds of our land is out of our control. Too large a percentage of our earnings is taken in taxes and the cost of compliance with mountains of Federal regulations is crushing our families and businesses. Federal red tape is costing $7,000 for every man, woman and child in Utah. It’s $35,000 for a family of five, like mine. We must rein in government.
For Snow, air quality and pollution tops the list of primary importance for Utah voters.
“Extremely poor air quality is routinely suffered by nearly all Utahns who live in metropolitan areas and has become a critical public health issue. In Utah, coal accounts for nearly 80% of the electricity produced in the state. Coal is a significant contributor to the notoriously bad air experienced in places such as Salt Lake County and Utah County, which are already susceptible to inversions.”
Snow added that coal often has high levels of mercury that contaminate both the air and Utah’s waterways. Snow believes the best way to clean up the air and water is by phasing out coal and other polluting sources of energy “by directly taxing these sources of pollution, and then using those funds to make the investments into cleaner sources of energy like solar and wind.”
Snow also believes in the importance of mothers and said she is an advocate for guaranteed paid maternity leave.
As a single-issue candidate, Barron is solely focused on what he argues is the urgent issue of climate change. It is an issue, he said, that is not driven by party lines.
This is Barron’s third run for a national office as a single-issue candidate. He first ran against Sen. Orrin Hatch in 2012 and received .7 percent of the vote. He ran for congress against Rep. Chris Stewart in 2014 to help draw attention to the need to do something about climate change. In that race he carried 1.5 percent of the vote
Barron hopes to receive at least 10 percent of the vote this time around, a percentage he believes will act as a tipping point to receive political attention and send a clear message to Washington D.C. that Utah wants climate action, he said.
“I believe the issue of climate change is the overarching issue of our time,” Barron said, adding that it is one that should unite all the political parties and one, that if addressed correctly, could stimulate the economy, create jobs and improve air quality.
The slate of Utah candidates for the senate seat have a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. St. George News asked them what they feel makes them uniquely qualified to serve the people of Utah.
Snow believes that her empathy for others, particularly the poor and working class, and her determination to help those who are most in need is what sets her apart from her fellow candidates. Snow recalled her own childhood and how it shapes her run for senate.
“Because I am from a working class family, I know what it feels like to live in poverty. I understand what it’s like to put your dreams on hold because you are barely scraping by. This is the reality of how the vast majority of American people are living today. … My experiences have given me a unique empathy and perspective, as well as a determination to help those that need it most. I am determined to help create an economy and livability that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1% of our population.”
Barron stated among his qualifications, hard work and a “don’t quit” attitude towards bringing attention to the need to mitigate the effects of climate change in any way possible.
“It is a never ending pursuit to get the issue of climate change into the community,” Barron said.
Though in his first two attempts at running for a national office Barron received a very small percentage of the vote, polls this year have shown an increase in his popularity which Barron attributes both to a broader interest in the need to address climate change as well as more name recognition this time around.
Lee draws on his experience both as the incumbent candidate as well as experiences throughout his life that have shaped his political policy.
The Federal government has grown so large and accumulated so much power in Washington it makes the people in Utah, and everywhere else in the country, less prosperous and less free. Federalism and the separation of powers are issues I’ve been talking about since I was a young boy and my late father, who served as Solicitor General for President Ronald Reagan, would take me to see him argue before the Supreme Court. I am running for the senate for the same reason I ran in 2010: to restore the rights and freedoms of the people of Utah by breaking up the accumulation of power in Washington.
The phrase “career politician” has become, among many, all too common rhetoric in today’s political landscape. We asked the three candidates if they are in favor of term limits for politicians. The following are their responses.
Barron was reluctant to answer any questions outside his single-issue climate platform but did say that he was absolutely in favor of limiting terms for senators.
Lee said he favors term limits as long as they apply to everyone.
“If only citizen-legislators term limit themselves out of office, then all that will be left in Congress are career politicians who are looking to use the power of government to enrich themselves and their friends,” Lee said.
For similar reasons as Lee, Snow is also in favor of term limits.
“I am definitely in favor of Senate term limits, simply because we must end the cycle of creating career politicians. Most politicians, being it in the senate or any other political office, who serves too long, become intermingled and overly friendly with the Washington insiders (and) corporate lobbyists,” Snow said.
For senators, who serve a six year term, Snow said an ideal term limit would be two terms in office at which point they would pass the torch on to the next generation of leaders.
“They are our future,” Snow said.
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