Washington County Democratic Convention: Candidates discuss health care, immigration, LGBT issues

U.S. Air Force veteran Del Polad speaks at the annual Washington County Democratic Convention as party chair Chuck Goode looks on in Washington City, Utah, April 7, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — They may be the political underdogs in Southern Utah, but the number of members of the Democratic Party in Washington County is growing.

Members of the Washington County Democratic Party assemble for the party’s annual convention in Washington City, Utah, April 7, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Dozens of party members showed up for the 2018 Washington County Democratic Convention Saturday afternoon at the Washington City Community Center to hear from state and congressional candidates in the general election, vote on bylaws and select delegates for the state convention.

The convention began by highlighting the work of individuals in the Southern Utah community working toward party goals and causes, such as LGBT rights, economic justice, securing social security and Medicare for future generations, immigration and grassroots involvement.

“For me, the Democratic Party paints a picture of the future that I want for myself and the people that I love, and I’m guessing that since you’re all here today, I’m guessing you feel the same way,” Ivins City Councilwoman Mariah Elliot said.

Inclusivity was the theme of the gathering, with Elliot speaking on women’s issues, U.S. Air Force Veteran Del Polad addressing issues facing seniors, Rockville Town Councilwoman Megan Honer-Orton talking about helping immigrants, Dixie State University student Cody Tolbert speaking on youth and the Southern Utah economy and Randy Thomson of Youth Advocates of Southern Utah speaking on LGBT issues.

I’m convinced the Democratic Party is the party for minority rights and LGBTQ rights,” Thomson said.

“The forces against us are as strong as ever, from the anti-LGBT policies from GOP-led states, to the Trump administration excluding transgenders from serving in the military,” Thomson said. “So, we shall continue this fight, and I know the Democratic Party will be on the forefront of that.”

State Legislature candidates

Two candidates running for seats representing Southern Utah House and Senate districts in the state Legislature talked about their platform and the importance of gaining representation for Democratic Party voters in the region.

Chuck Goode, who also serves as chair for the Washington County Democratic Party, is challenging incumbent Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, in Utah House District 71.

There are people dying because they can’t get medical tests or health care,” Goode said. “It’s not a political issue at all, it’s a humane issue. Politics is not even about money. Politics is about improving people’s lives.”

He said that if elected, he would focus on marginalized groups, such as people who identify as LGBT, women and young people.

“These are the groups that I support, and if you give me a chance, I would listen to you and be a voice there unlike the people that are there now that aren’t representing us at all.”

Mark Chambers, candidate for Utah Senate District 28, speaks at the annual Washington County Democratic Convention as party chair Chuck Goode looks on in Washington City, Utah, April 7, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Mark Chambers, who has a long history of political involvement at the local level in Southern Utah, is challenging incumbent Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, in Utah Senate District 28.

Speaking about issues facing Southern Utah, Chambers said he believes federal lands should not be transferred to the state and stressed the importance of access to mental health care in rural areas. He also encouraged the audience members to “come out” and make their Democratic views known.

“Let your views be known. We are not that far apart when you talk to people,” Chambers said. “Our voices aren’t at the table, we need to get our voices at the table, and what we need to do is get our voices heard to our loved ones and to our neighbors.”

Congressional candidates

Four candidates for seats representing Utah in the U.S. House and Senate were also present or represented at the gathering.

Mitchell Vice is running for the Senate seat currently occupied by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch.

I am the progressive, working class candidate running for the United States Senate,” Vice said.

Running on the slogan of “Every American Thriving,” Vice said he stands for Medicare for all, economic justice through livable wages, protecting the right to unionize and political finance reform.

“I’m inspired by people in action,” he said. “It’s one thing to hope for change, it’s another thing to dream and take action. That’s where progress comes from.”

Retired Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson was present representing his daughter, Jenny Wilson, who is also running for Senate on the Democratic ticket.

Ted Wilson said his daughter is running on a platform of inclusion that promotes equality, including LGBT rights, health care and economic opportunity.

Randy Hopkins, candidate for Utah’s U.S. congressional district 2, speaks at the annual Washington County Democratic Convention as party chair Chuck Goode looks on in Washington City, Utah, April 7, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Two candidates vying for the House seat currently occupied by Rep. Chris Stewart also made a case for their candidacy. They were Randy Hopkins and Shireen Ghorbani.

Hopkins said he supports a “Medicare for all” solution to health care and is passionate about issues surrounding immigrants.

“It is immoral, it’s wrong, it’s un-American to have a deportation hysteria and start separating families and moving them out of this country,” he said. “I would say bring them out of the shadows, give them legal social security numbers, let them stay here legally.”

Ghorbani said she thinks the seat is winnable by a Democratic candidate.

“This year, it is within striking distance,” she said. “The Republican Party no longer stands for family values or families. We know that they’re not on the side of working people … We know there are people who are left out and left behind, and I will be making that argument in every corner of this district.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • comments April 7, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    Well, good writeup by Joseph Witham here. I will say, I don’t know why Utah dems continually pander to illegal aliens and the LGBTQrstuvwxyz agenda. Firstly, illegals are not gonna send any votes your way, and you just end up alienating blue-collar people that have to compete with the illegals for intensive manual labor jobs (I’m not even gonna say unskilled, because i’m seeing crews of illegals mexicans building houses from the ground up in this town nowadays. AND YES, THEY ARE ILLEGAL.). They also drive down wages, and create unfair labor markets. Why hire the gringo for $20 and hour when the illegal will do the same work for $12. As far as the LGBTQrstuvwxyz crowd, they are a tiny minority and you alienate so much of the religious LDS vote by pandering to that crew. WE VOTE FOR YOU PEOPLE TO REPRESENT US AS CITIZENS! NOT TO REPRESENT ILLEGAL ALIENS! The LGBT folks have dragged the party into being known as the party that coddles degenerates. Give them a nod and a wink if you must but stop putting their tired agenda at the forefront. We live in a red state, so if you want the votes of average working people STOP PANDERING TO THESE PET CAUSES. YOU DEMS DON’T EVEN HAVE YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR IN THIS STATE AND YOU KEEP TRYING THE SAME TIRED OLD ULTRA-LEFTIST CRAP. That stuff plays in a blue state, but why can’t you people lean more moderate on issues that matter to religious LDS people, and to people in a state that’s mostly white, NOT HISPANIC, LATINO, OR WHATEVER! You know people in UT love their guns, so go moderate on that issue–STOP TRYING TO PUSH THE DEM NATIONAL AGENDA OF A HUGE GUN GRAB! IT DOESN’T PLAY IN THIS STATE. Healthcare, higher paying jobsl–focus on issues that matter to average blue collar Utahns. THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE “SOCIAL JUSTICE” OR RACE ISSUES! NOT IN THIS STATE! UNTIL YOU DEMS GET A CLUE YOU WILL CONTINUE TO LOSE IN UTAH. this is not your kalifornia or your portland. its almost as if you people purposely cook up losing strategies. smh. I’m especially disappoint because I am a dem voter. The party at the nat’l level has become such filth I’m not sure it’s redeemable. The R-party has been nonredeemable filth in all of recent memory. i don’t know what’s gonna happen. But really, stop focusing on obama’s dreamer kids or DACAs or whatever. In general, people of UT are tired of illegal mexicans, EVEN LIBERALS I TALK TO ARE TIRED OF THEM. SO JUST STOP!

    apologies for lack of paragraphs, etc. This was a rant after all.

    • PatriotLiberal April 7, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Well said, comments.while i cant aay that I agree with everything you said i think your diatribe about illegals is spot on. We need to prevent them ciming in and get tiose who are here out. Not sayibg that we just kick thdm out though. No way. We give them a simple choice. Get legal or get out. Illegals should get NOTHING! No jobs, mo welfare, NOTHING! Children born or brought here, get the status of their mother.

    • youcandoit April 8, 2018 at 12:31 am

      Agreed also they raise our taxes and we wonder why our prices go up. They don’t agree with our constitution anyway. They laugh at us Americans while they get free welfare money and food stamps. If they want to be here they have to agree with our constitution and apply for citizenship.

  • aaron April 7, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    Oh my gosh I don’t think I could of said it any better. Other then the communists are in are must.

  • dogmatic April 8, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Judging from the age of group in the picture it looks like they are a support group for Alzheimer’s and dementia more interested in heath care and social security than anything else. Most of these folks will not be around for the next election.
    Not at typical demographic crossed section of the Democratic Party. Where are the millennials and Hispanics ?

    • comments April 8, 2018 at 2:37 pm

      yep, where are all these illegal immigrant hispanics that they’ve taken on as a pet cause. They are not there supporting dems, and they could care less, because they can’t vote anyway. They focus most of their effort on getting gov’t freebies and popping out anchor babies, and working illegally to undercut citizen workers. I guess there’s no time to support the party that coddles them as a bleeding-heart pet issue. I don’t even blame the illegals, really. The two major parties have allowed them to absolutely flood in over the past few decades. They’re just people, doing what people do. The dems would have us send giant barges over to Africa and haul over millions of Africans in order to speed up the “DIVERSITY IS OUR BIGGEST STRENGTH” agenda. I’m not callous, at least not extremely; I get how people are so passionate about bleeding-heart causes, and I have a few I am passionate about as well. But dems have no power in this state and they keep with the same tired crap that’s gotten them nowhere in years. I don’t know why they can’t let go of pet issues that are so divisive. The gay agendas, “opression of Utah’s minorities”(what minorities? the mexicans that aren’t even legal?), diversity bs, gun grabbing, “social justice”: all of these issues need to be shelved in favor of issues like economics and healthcare. They might even be able to get some moderate votes on issues like the environment, clean air and water, and conservation if they’d frame it the right way. The pet causes have to be shelved. The gays have pushed their agenda as far as it needs to go for awhile–the already have “gay marriage”. It seems now they just like to make noise so we don’t forget they’re around. And the diversity cultists need to get lost. They bring nothing positive to the table.

      And to be fair, the republican conventions here are made up of the same age demographic–blue haired, nursing home age folks.

  • comments April 9, 2018 at 11:38 am

    man, I thought at least 1 or 2 of the leftist people in this site would at least TRY to refute my little rants/tirades. I was even hoping that I was wrong on something (since I am a dem voter). They really are out of touch with voters in this state, and it’s sad, because we’ve got 100% mormon-republican control of this state– a theocratic pseudo-conservative stranglehold. It’s just a shame the dems have to be so out of touch, smh.

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