Iron County Commission candidates debate COVID-19, economic development

Iron County Commission candidates Cindy Bulloch (left) and Marilyn Wood participate in a debate at Southern Utah University, May 19, 2020 | Photo by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Iron County Commission candidates Cindy Bulloch and Marilyn Wood participated in a debate Tuesday at Southern Utah University.

The debate was streamed live, and it was hosted and moderated by employees of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service.

Wood is a native of Iron County who runs a small business and cattle ranch in the Beryl area with her husband, according to her website. She has been involved with the Iron County Cattleman Association, Farm Bureau, Iron Rangers Riding Club and helped in the production of The Wendy Wood PRCA Memorial rodeo.

Bulloch is the current Iron County Assessor, a position she has held for 10 years. According to her Facebook page, she is also the president of the Utah Association of Counties, as well as a  member of the board of directors for the National Association of Counties.

After opening statements Tuesday, candidates discussed COVID-19 and keeping the county safe and secure, in areas of physical, mental and financial matters.

Wood said although the county should be aware of guidelines regarding the coronavirus, it should not be the only concern.

“We need to make sure that the people in the county are safe from other things too, not just COVID,” Wood said. “There’s other issues that we are concerned about too – mental health and poverty, unemployment. It’s a balance for sure, but I think we can do both.”

Bulloch said one of her primary concerns is protecting those who are vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“COVID is scary, but its a form of the flu. It affects different people differently, but we need to make sure we protect our vulnerable populations and do things as we are now,” she said. “If we need to meet virtually, we do that. Make sure that you’re washing hands, making sure that we are ready when it comes and supporting our vulnerable populations.”

Both candidates also addressed mental health. Bulloch said getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental health is something the county can do to help with mental health concerns, while Wood said the county should focus on mental health of residents, especially considering the current circumstances due to COVID-19.

While discussing the cancellation of the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Larry H. Miller Summer Games, Bulloch said supporting the local economy is one way to mitigate the social and economic impacts of those cancellations.

“We’ve got to think outside of the box,” she said. “Government sometimes gets involved where they shouldn’t, so we need to be here to support but mostly stay out of the way and let the businesses run. … If we give them the opportunity they will figure it out.”

Wood encouraged the idea of supporting local businesses through “stay-cations” or visiting local restaurants.

“I’m ready to make hard decisions if we have to do that,” Wood said.

Bulloch and Wood also discussed other ways to support small businesses, as well as rural communities and long-term economic development for the county.

Wood said the county could help support businesses by lessening the government’s involvement in business.

“As a county, if we can take away some of the barriers that businesses have, give them tax incentives — anything that we can do to help business flourish. I believe that it’s going to be beneficial to our county,” Wood said.

Bulloch said bringing in new businesses should be considered for economic development.

“We need to look at ways to bring in business, and not just any business — business that fits with the culture of our community,” Bulloch said.

Wood and Bulloch are running for County Commission Seat C, which is currently held by Alma Adams. They will face off in the primary election, which is being held June 30.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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