Election 2018: Utah House District 73 candidates talk public lands, water shortages and term limits

Composite stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Voters in House District 73 will have the opportunity to choose between Republican Phil Lyman and unaffiliated candidate Marsha Holland to replace retiring Republican Rep. Michael Noel this election day.

House District 73 covers most of southeastern Utah, including all of Kane, Piute, Wayne, Garfield and San Juan counties and parts of Sevier and Beaver counties.

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 believe may an interesting fact about themselves or mistakes they may have made to what their big legislative push may be if elected, their answers are listed below.

Phil Lyman, a Republican candidate running for Utah House District 73 in the 2018 midterm elections, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Phil Lyman, St. George News

Republican Phil Lyman is seeking election as a House representative after serving as a San Juan County Commissioner for seven years. He is a CPA and a chairman of the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition board. Lyman first founded the Blanding Area Travel Council, which works to bring local travel-related businesses together.

If elected, what would be the first piece of legislation you would sponsor or what Utah law would you work on repealing or amending?

“Any legislation that I am involved in is going to emphasize less government interference with people’s lives and more accountability from government agencies. If I could figure out legislation to rein in the federal agencies and put them in their proper jurisdictional role instead of this god-like role that they think they have, I would do that.

“The reason I say ‘if I could figure out legislation’ is because I know that there is already a lot of work in that direction at the state Legislature, so I plan to be very much a part of this idea of statehood and what that means to be a state versus a territory.

“I mentioned the indemnification (in a later answer below). That’s more of a sideline to the whole issue of the system that’s broken which is the notion that unelected agencies have complete jurisdiction over 67 percent of Utah, the public lands section, and it wasn’t designed that way. I don’t believe the law supports it, but the state up until now has been pretty complicit in just allowing them to do those things.

“In my district, in District 73, we’re talking 97 percent public lands. In some counties probably on average about 95 percent public lands, and when you go to the state Legislature the governor’s office oftentimes acts like their hands are tied and that we are subjects of the BLM or Forest Service, these agencies that have no political accountability to their people, and that’s not the way the system was designed to operate.

“And the state Legislature has the full obligation to push back on that. There’s nobody else that’s going to fight that fight if the state Legislature doesn’t. And some have done a fantastic job, and I just want to make sure that I’m part of that group that’s pushing back on those things.”

Of the following three issues, which one do you believe is the most important to Utah voters: housing, water or education?

“Water is the one that I would say is most important, especially in Southern Utah. Without adequate water we are not going to be even having a discussion about housing and education. Again, that’s another area that the state legislature needs to step in and really protect that asset that belongs to southern counties and not sell them out to people that have more money, and more ability to purchase water shares and influence that legislation. They have to take care of those counties that are kind of at the end of the ditch. And again, the state Legislature has been a great friend to rural Utah.”

Give me the answer to one of three questions: your most embarrassing moment, an interesting fact about you or a mistake you made that you learned the most from.

“A mistake that I made was believing that the federal agencies had integrity and that the department of justice believed that a person was innocent until proven guilty. And that the U.S. attorney’s followed that same ideology.

“With my experience on Recapture, Reservoir Road, I stayed on a county road on the open portion of the county road, yet was prosecuted for trespassing and prosecuted for conspiracy to trespass. I found that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was in collusion with The Salt Lake Tribune on creating a narrative and that both were in collusion with Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance in convicting me of something that I had not done, or making it look like it was illegal when it was not illegal. I then found out that even the federal judge on the case was conflicted and didn’t disclose it until after the conviction.

“It was a hugely expensive misplacement of my faith in a system that is really broken. I would say that I believe the United States has the best legal system in the world, but it still is miserably inefficient when it comes to prosecutions. Especially when you have a U.S. Attorney’s Office that has no regard for guilt or innocence.

“They only want to get a conviction at all costs. They have unlimited resources and are willing to use those to their advantage, at the same time trying to deprive regular citizens like myself with any resources that they might use to defend themselves.

One of the things that I really want to look at is the indemnification of elected representatives. If you went to work for a large corporation, if you were on their board of directors, you wouldn’t take that position without knowing that you had the backing of that corporation if you were maliciously attacked with frivolous lawsuits.

“You don’t have that same level of protection as a county commissioner, nor as a state representative, and I think, especially when the facts of the case show that it’s ulterior motives. In my case it was all environmentalists that are pushing these things, they hate Republicans and conservatives, and elected officials shouldn’t have to have 100 percent of that exposure with no help from the state.

“I think there is an indemnification clause but it’s extremely weak and it’s extremely easy for environmental groups to circumvent it and destroy people’s lives. It’s not dissimilar from what we just finished watching with the Kavanaugh thing. There ought to be penalties for people that go after a person’s reputation, and occupation, and family and things like that, purely out of political motivation under the color of the law. I think it’s about as low as a group can go, yet from the left it’s business as usual. They do it routinely.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?

I love the idea of government by the consent of the governed. A smaller footprint, smaller impact on people’s lives, more freedom more liberty. I’d always err on the side of more liberty versus more regulation, and I hope that’s the direction that Utah’s going. It’s been a great model for the United States and a great model for Utah, and we have wonderful people who are so, so very capable, and the last thing that they need is unaccountable bureaucrats deciding what direction the state goes.”

Marsha Holland, a candidate running unaffiliated for Utah House District 73, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marsha Holland, St. George News

Unaffiliated candidate Marsha Holland is a private business owner who runs Bryce Valley Tours and works as a substitute teacher in the Bryce Valley Schools. She is a board member of the Garfield Memorial Healthcare Foundation and is a founding member of the nonprofit Bryce Valley Community Foundation.

If elected, what would be the first piece of legislation you would sponsor or what Utah law would you work on repealing or amending?

“One of the things that’s important to me are term limits. The particular office that I am running for has no term limits, and the person that was in here before, Mike Noel, was in for 16 years. What happens with that is people become entrenched and beholden. Then we start to see the interests of the person change from people, to the people they’re beholden to. So I think term limits might help with that.

“I’m also interested in extending broadband connectivity. That is going to be key in our rural counties. It’s sort of happening now; we’ve got a little bit of that going on in Garfield County, mostly to the high schools, but the way the rural online initiative will work is it connects throughout the counties. So that’s the other piece, that’s an economic development piece.

“One of the key issues in our county is water. There’s a lot of people in our county that don’t have fresh drinking water piped to their house where the water they’re receiving is not pure. I’m not sure what type of legislation that’s going to be; it’s more like collaboration within counties and using USDA initiatives to try and bring relief to people who are without basic utilities.

“That’s really a pressing issue in a lot of counties. I see it as I’m traveling throughout the district. It’s actually fairly surprising, it’s not just in one place. … That’s going to be a more collaborative effort to find out what kind of initiatives we can use from the state, also the federal, and also things that are going on in the counties now to help bring fresh water to our communities.

“That’s kind of a shocking thing for most people. They don’t realize how many people don’t have fresh running water in their homes. We take it for granted, especially in our counties, Garfield, Iron and Washington.”

Of the following three issues, which one do you believe is the most important to Utah voters: housing, water or education?

“They all link. To link our communities to great broadband coverage will enhance education, and if we’re enhancing education we need to make sure we have housing. Not only for teachers, because a lot of our teachers don’t have housing in our communities, we’ve had a shift to vacation rentals and Airbnbs, and so housing shortage is key.

“But honestly, the top issue should be fresh running water. Fresh drinking water. Water, air, these are key for people to just survive.

The link between housing and education and economic development is really strong. And there’s ways we can connect these things together, so infrastructure is really at the top of the list for me. And within infrastructure you have your basic services and utilities. And then once you have a strong infrastructure platform program then everything builds nicely upon it. You can invite teachers and families to come live in your community.

“People want to come live in our communities. These communities are great places to raise children. I raised my kids here; I know. We’re starting to see some younger couples come back. They can take advantage of broadband, and they can raise their children here in safety and a really, really friendly and welcoming community which is what we really loved about raising our sons here.

“But first of all you have to have infrastructure. You have to have housing for your families, and they link directly to good educational opportunities. So it’s not one or the other; they’re really linked together to make it work. It has to be a comprehensive program.”

Give me the answer to one of three questions: your most embarrassing moment, an interesting fact about you or a mistake you made that you learned the most from.

“I worked in Northern Utah in my 20s, and I’ve been in Utah most of my life down in Southern Utah for the last 20 years, but I had some really interesting jobs and one of them was shooting down avalanches in rural cottonwood canyon with a 75 recoilless rifle.That’s always a fun thing to talk to people about.

“I worked in the forest for ten years in Washington state in the summertime and most of my background is in outdoors. I always tend to have outdoor jobs, I’ve worked in offices a few times but that’s probably one of the most interesting facts about me.”

Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?

“I’ve spent a lot of time traveling through the seven counties and I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve traveled a lot of miles, it’s almost 700 miles from one side of my district to the other. It reaches across two state borders, Colorado and Arizona. So that actually has been the most engaging part of my campaign. And really the biggest surprise, meeting people, wonderful people in the communities.

“People have real concerns and issues. Some of them happen to be local or municipality policy issues, but some of them do have to do with state and some have to do with federal. So you know, we run the whole gamut, but listening to people has been the most rewarding thing on the campaign for me.

“And the biggest surprise. A few of my county commissioners said ‘oh you’re going to hate it, campaigning door to door is awful,’ and I found it to be exactly the opposite. Perhaps because my slogan reflects really what my heart is, people first. I enjoy meeting people and helping people, and that’s why I’m running for office.”

For other Election 2018 stories, click here.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

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

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1 Comment

  • Pheo October 14, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Unless Lyman intends to personally perform the job of administering state public lands, then unelected people (state bureaucrats) will continue to have control over our lands. The bigger difference is that we Utahns will have to bear all the cost of taking care of the land issues.

    The big bad federal government is a bully from his perspective, but from the perspective of those that really own the land (all Americans), our federal agencies are protecting those lands so a few locals can’t ruin the land for short-term financial gain.

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