Four Iron County Commission Seat B candidates vying to fill spot

Campaign signs for Iron County Commission and other races, Cedar City, Utah, May 31, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

IRON COUNTY — For Iron County Commission Seat B, four candidates are on the GOP primary ballot, each seeking to occupy the seat currently held by Dale Brinkerhoff, who is not running for re-election. The four Seat B candidates are Paul Cozzens, Sam Brower, Jennie Hendricks and Michelle Jorgenson.

Registered Republican voters in Iron County should start receiving their primary election ballots in the mail next week. They are due back by June 26.

As there are no candidates from other parties filed for Seat B, this month’s GOP primary will effectively decide the election, as the winner will appear on November’s general election ballot uncontested.

Cozzens and Hendricks attended a candidate debate held Thursday at Cedar North Elementary, but Jorgenson and Brower were out of town and unable to attend the event. Another public forum is scheduled for June 6 at 6 p.m. at Southern Utah University’s Leavitt Center. A half-hour meet-and-greet session with the candidates will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Here’s a look at each of the four candidates running for Iron County Commission Seat B, listed in the order they appear on the ballot:

Paul Cozzens

Cozzens, who has lived in Iron County for 38 years, says his years of experience in politics and business have helped qualify him for the role of county commissioner.

Iron County Commission candidate Paul Cozzens speaks during Iron County GOP Convention, Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“The campaign has been going awesome,” Cozzens told Cedar City News. “It is a lot of work but having run two successful city council races, it is something I enjoy. I especially enjoy getting out and talking to the residents of Iron County.”

“I have learned in my life that one person can make a big difference if they get involved. If elected, I will seek to continue making a difference where it is needed.”

In addition to being on the Cedar City Council for the past seven years, Cozzens has served on the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District board for seven years.

“I have seen some great progress with water projects as well as being involved in opting out of the Lake Powell Pipeline project,” he said. “That would have had severe financial repercussions for Iron County.”

Cozzens has also been involved with the Happy Factory, a nonprofit organization that has made and donated nearly 1.5 million wooden toys to be given to needy children. “I’m proud to be counted among the many hundreds of volunteers that have contributed time and resources to this effort in helping less fortunate children around the world,” he said.

Cozzens said some of the top issues he would address as county commissioner include public safety, economic growth and master planning.

“Public safety is one of those constitutionally mandated roles that we need to make sure we support as a county government. We need to see that we support the employees that provide this service and provide the resources they need.”

Regarding growth, Cozzens says he favors an environment of lower taxes and regulations, “(so that) the economy can continue to flourish and attract clean industry and provide good jobs for the residents of Iron County.”

Cozzens said water issues remain the county’s biggest challenge.

“We have been mining our aquifer at an alarming rate. Our safe yield in the Cedar Valley is 21,000 acre feet annually, but we have been consuming 28,000 acre feet. Utah is the second driest state in the country, the second fastest growing state, with Iron County being the third fastest growing county in the state. The state engineer has implemented a groundwater management plan to address the problem but it does not take an engineer to recognize that this mining of our aquifer is not sustainable.”

Cozzens, who also serves on the groundwater management plan committee, said a three-tiered approach is being employed to help solve the problem: continuing aquifer recharge efforts; promoting conservation, including more efficient irrigation; and eventually importing water from other sources, including from desert areas north and west of Cedar City.

“This is a long-term project that will be a much better and more affordable option than the Lake Powell Pipeline. No treatment plant will be needed and once we get it over a mountain range it will free flow to our valley.”

Cozzens said his  life experience has prepared me to be an effective commissioner.

“I was raised by parents that taught me how to work, I worked with my dad from a very young age learning about engineering and excavation, I have built roads, installed water and sewer lines and other general excavation projects. I have learned how to solve problems.”

Cozzens said his son is now running the family cabinetry business and is in the process of buying it, enabling Cozzens to devote himself full-time to the commissioner’s job, if elected.

“I can bring people together to accomplish great things but can also stand firm when I need to protect the residents of Iron County,” Cozzens added. “I do not like to just talk about issues. I like to act and get things done and my record shows that.”

Sam Brower

Sam Brower is a private investigator who two years ago unsuccessfully ran against Alma Adams for Iron County Commission’s Seat C.

This time around, Brower said he believes he has a better chance of getting elected.

Iron County Commission candidate Sam Brower speaks during Iron County GOP Convention, Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Brower told Cedar City News he’s encouraged by the amount of support he’s received during his campaign.

“I have a lot of good solid support during the signature signing process. I was out talking to hundreds of people in and getting a feel for what’s on people’s minds. People in Iron County are anxious to get somebody in there that’s not a politician and not part of the status quo, but is going to be there specifically to look after their best interest.”

Brower said he is not only such a candidate, but is also one who isn’t encumbered by potential conflicts of interest.

“I don’t have to worry about those kinds of conflicts. I have no other agendas or potential agendas,” he said. “I’m doing it just for one reason, to make Iron County a better place for my family. And in the process, other people’s families.”

Brower said while there are a number of important issues facing Iron County, public safety is the county’s most pressing concern.

“In the state of Utah, the No. 1 cause of death for children, ages 10-18, is suicide. And that’s disturbing to me. That haunts me. We have an opioid crisis that’s going on. We’re right there at the top of the list as far as overdose deaths go. Iron County is like third, I believe, in the state for an overdose deaths.

“Our Children’s Justice Center in 2017 had 448 cases, I believe, of child abuse and neglect filed. All those things are immediate. These are things that are happening right now that people are suffering and dying from.”

Brower said he supports increasing pay and improving resources for law enforcement officers and public safety officials.

“People in Iron County deserve to have a really strong public safety and we just don’t right now. I mean, the commissioners’ job is to make sure those officials and department heads have the resources and tools they need to do their job, and it just hasn’t been there.”

“Iron County needs and deserves some new leadership,” Brower said.

Jennie Hendricks

Hendricks, a real estate broker and agent with Century 21 Prestige Realty, said her campaign has “exceeded even my expectations.”

Iron County Commission candidate Jennie Hendricks speaks during Iron County GOP Convention, Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Support for my campaign just continues to grow as people get to really know the candidates. I have loved meeting with others and drawing from their knowledge base, experience and true dedication to Iron County. I really enjoy meeting with people and collaborating.”

Hendricks said she believes good elected leaders need to wise, steady, ethical and strong.

“The schoolyard bully may accomplish a short-term goal, but at what cost? Who trusts the bully? Particularly when things aren’t going the bully’s way?”

Hendricks also stressed the need for strong master planning given that Iron County’s population is projected to double over the next 30 years.

“We absolutely need and must have a robust, encompassing master plan, and that’s priority one for me if elected,” she said. “If you don’t believe (having) a master plan in place is critical, take a look at Washington County. If we don’t want to end up looking like a mini-California, we had better get a strong plan in place, right now. Growth is going to happen, so how are we in Iron County going to protect what we love most about being here, and have wise growth?”

Hendricks said she doesn’t believe in what she termed a “fear mongering” approach in promoting water projects.

“There’s been much talk of water. Interestingly in all the fear-based talk, the $100 million-plus price tag to access that water from another basin is never mentioned. Also not mentioned is that we have five decades worth of water or more. So fear mongering is one way to get buy-in, but practical, pragmatic growth solutions with a current and strong master plan for our county, moved forward by someone like me who can work really well with others, even if they disagree with me, and get community buy-in is the long-term solution we need.”

“My primary goals are to create a robust, current master plan for now and for Iron County’s future, that will address all aspects of growth, including planning, infrastructure, economic development, water resources and access, while preserving our unique heritage and culture that is so precious to us here in Iron County.

“My other primary goal from day one is working to solve the important pay and morale issues with our important county employees.”

Hendricks cited her history, experience and relationships with those inside and outside Iron County.

“My background as a business owner for over 20 years has taught me the importance of planning for the future and building relationships in our community,” she said, noting that she has been actively involved in several committees and organizations and has worked extensively with elected officials at various levels of government.

“It should be very telling to you as a voter that, considering these good leaders have also worked with the other candidates, virtually all of them endorse me for commissioner. They know I want the very best for Iron County and they know I am the strong, fearless champion of Iron County that is ethical, transparent, not reactive, careful, accomplished, proven and respected.”

“We don’t need small-minded, drama-laden bullying tactics and unethical behavior. Our voters are tired of it. We all want something better for our county. Iron County needs a commissioner who gets things done by successfully accomplishing critical goals for our community, with transparency, ethics and collaboration.”

Michelle Jorgenson

Michelle Jorgenson is a co-owner and broker at ERA Realty Center. A lifelong Iron County resident, she was elected to the Iron County School District Board of Education in 2008 and is serving her third term on the school board.

Iron County Commission candidate Michelle Jogenson speaks during Iron County GOP Convention, Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Although my past experience has been on a smaller scale, it’s helped me understand the time and effort that is necessary to run a successful campaign,” she said. “All jobs have challenges and being a member of the school board has had its share, but I can honestly say that it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

Jorgenson said as an experienced public servant and small-business owner, she has a proven track record of solving tough problems.

“As a candidate for Iron County Commission, I am prepared to lead on the biggest issues we face. If elected, I would work very hard to implement much-needed change. My commitment to you is that I will serve with honesty and integrity and never forget who I’m accountable to.”

Jorgenson said she sees anticipated growth as bringing major challenges and opportunities.

“Utah is at the beginning stages of remarkable growth that will see our state population double in the next two decades. That growth will impact our economy, our education system and our way of life, and those changes will not be limited to the Wasatch Front. Rural Utah, and especially those of us here in Iron County, need to plan today so that we take full advantage of the opportunities this growth presents while preserving the things that make living here so wonderful.

Campaign signs for Iron County Commission and other races, Cedar City, Utah, May 31, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Our goal should be to provide the highest quality of life for those who love to live in Iron County. How do we achieve that goal? By planning today. The proper role of a county commissioner is to see the possibilities and take into account how change will impact everyone in our community, from students at our university, to the ranchers who work in our livestock industry, to those who celebrate the arts at the Shakespearean Festival. The best growth is growth that helps all groups in our county reach their full potential without leaving anyone behind.

“We have resources in our county that uniquely position us for a prosperous future: natural resources, a strong K-12 and higher education system and a commitment to the arts and preserving our heritage. Our growth can be driven by a commitment to all three as we work to harness the potential of each for our benefit.”

In addition to top priority issues such as land management, water management and investment in education and infrastructure, Jorgenson also stressed the importance of employee retention, particularly in law enforcement.

“Government should be efficient and deliver the services we need without wasting taxpayer funds. Iron County is fortunate to have great county employees who care about their work and who provide a tremendous value to all Iron County residents. Unfortunately, right now, we are investing money to hire and train county employees only to lose them to other opportunities. There is no long-term plan and no structured pay scale in place to help them thrive in their respective roles. You and I both know that’s no way to run a business or a household, and it sure doesn’t work for county government either.”

Jorgenson said if elected she would work with other officials to create a better long-term compensation plan for county employees.

“When people are appreciated, when they know what is expected of them and when they can see how they can progress in their careers, that is when they can see how their work is important to our community and take pride in what they do.”

Jorgenson also cited her ability to work with people to build consensus.

“I know we won’t agree on everything, but we can work to ensure every perspective is considered. Frankly, our County Commission can no longer afford to kick the can down the road on issues until those issues become larger problems than they need to be. I have never backed away from tough issues. I work with everyone to bring the best ideas forward and I will approach things as a pragmatic conservative to improve our great county.”

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


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