Election 2018: Utah House District 75 candidates speak to mistakes and lessons, goals and priorities

Stock composite image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – This midterm election, three men are vying to represent House District 75 in the Utah Legislature. The boundaries of District 75 cover parts of St. George, Enterprise and the communities in between along state Route 18.

In order to help voters get to know who’s running and what they intend to do if elected, St. George News presented the candidates with a short series of questions. From sharing what they have learned from prior mistakes to what their big legislative push may be if elected, the answers are listed below.

Candidates running to House District 75 this year include incumbent Republican Rep, Walt Brooks and third party challengers Libertarian Michael Gardner and Independent American Kieth Kelcsh.


Utah Rep. Walt Brooks, R-District 75 | Photo courtesy of the Utah House of Representatives, St. George News

Republican Rep. Walt Brooks is seeking a second term to the Legislature. Outside of the Legislature, he is a business owner who runs a small software company called Rx Trax.

What is a mistake you have made that you have learned from?

“Jumping to conclusions too quickly,” Brooks said. He applied that answer to not listening to all sides of an argument, particularly when related to legislation being considered by the Legislature

“The truth you may hear from one side is not all the truth available,” he said, adding he’s gaining a new appreciation for lobbyists in this regard.

If re-elected, Brooks said that when considering a position on a political issue or a proposed bill, he’ll hear out fellow legislators and lobbyists equally so he can “get a better and comprehensive view” of the matter so he can make an informed decision.

If elected, what will be the first piece of legislation you introduce, or is there current legislation you would like to see amended or repealed?

The first bill Brooks said he plans to introduce next year if re-elected concerns providing more transparency when the state buys a parcel of land for a project and then has surplus left over.

The state hasn’t tracked these surplus pieces very well, he said, which the bill will address. It will also allow the unused land to be auctioned off. This will allow another party to buy and developed the land, which will also produce property taxes for the county it resides in, rather than sitting unused and undeveloped by the state.

Other issues Brooks wants to bring forward involve removing the state tax on Social Security and creating a state-level anti-phone spoofing bill. Phone spoofing, as defined by the FCC, is “when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.”

Which one of these issues do you think matters most to Utah voters: education, housing or water?

“Probably the one that fits most of those is taxes,” Brooks said. “Education is taxes, your water, what’s going to happen with water rates and all the different things happening there. Any time we do anything with taxes, it gets everyone’s attention.”

Education is always asking for money, which the state raises through taxes, Brooks said. As for water, it is needed if the area keeps growing, and the Lake Powell Pipeline is seen as a way to address that, yet how will it be paid for? Again, Brooks pointed to taxes.

The tax rate needs to be lowered, and the tax base needs to be broadened so it is not burdensome, Brooks said. It should also be clear where taxpayer dollars go and how they are spent.

As for housing, Brooks said he saw that as more as an issue to be handled on the local level and not so much the state.


Keith Kelsch, location and date of photo unspecified | Photo courtesy of Keith Kelsch, St. George News

Independent American Keith R. Kelsch is also a private business owner who has 30 years experience in construction. He has also an 25 years of experience in the education field. He is currently an adjunct professor in Dixie State University’s communications department.

What is a mistake you have made that you have learned from?

“My biggest mistake was not getting into business soon enough,” Kelsch said.

Becoming an entrepreneur has allowed Kelsch to do more for the community than he could as an educator alone, he said.

If elected, what will be the first piece of legislation you introduce, or is there current legislation you would like to see amended or repealed?

“I would propose to improve the budget across the state to alleviate waste,” Kelsch said.

Money is divvied out to various state departments that are not encouraged to save money due to needing spent it in a “use it or lose it” fashion since unspent money doesn’t rollover into the next year’s budget, Kelsch said.

“We don’t teach a value for savings in budgets,” he said. “Companies are always looking for ways to save on costs, but government doesn’t.”

Kelsch proposes to set up a budgeting program that incentivizes saving money and also allows different government departments to create their own rainy day funds similar to what the state has overall.

Which one of these issues do you think matters most to Utah voters: education, housing or water?

Housing is one of the biggest issues Kelsch believes voters are concerned about.

He proposes to set up a system to get people into market-rate homes by helping them get over the hurdle of a down payment.

Initial funding to help “kick start” the program would likely be a grant from the state or municipality, Kelsch said. After that, the program is designed to become perpetually self-sustaining.

Renters who would be in homes overseen by the program would have a part of their rent also go to into a down payment fund.

Aside from getting an initial grant from the government, Kelsch said the program wouldn’t be tied to government and would be managed by a cooperative committee made of up realtors, builders, bankers and other associated parties.


Michael Gardner, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Michael Gardner, St. George News

Libertarian Michael Gardner is a facilitator of personal development with over 20 years experience who described himself as “a reluctant candidate” who ran at the request of a friend. He was originally involved in politics in the 1980s, but stepped away due to its increasing incivility.

What is a mistake you have made that you have learned from?

“I’m made a lot of mistakes,” Gardner said. However, he pointed to an increased understanding of personal relationships due to those mistakes.

If elected, what will be the first piece of legislation you introduce, or is there current legislation you would like to see amended or repealed?

Unlike Brooks and Kelsch, Gardner said he doesn’t see himself presenting legislation. Rather, if elected, he plans to review the state’s asset forfeiture laws and move to do away with them.

I see seizing property without a conviction as criminal,” Gardner said.

Which one of these issues do you think matters most to Utah voters: education, housing or water?

Because the state is growing and it’s in the middle of a desert, Gardner pointed to water.

“Water’s going to be an issue down the road,” he said.

Resources

Candidate websites and Facebook pages

For other Election 2018 stories click here.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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

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2 Comments

  • utahdiablo October 12, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    Whoever gets elected, get this damn stupid daylight savings time to end, we dont need the daily 105 degree summer heat to last until midnight with the sun not going down until 9:45 pm, then trying to cool down your home to try to sleep…the hour of time needs to be falled back in a few weeks from now and left that way for good,

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