‘Time for change’: Democrat Kenzie Carter challenges Lowry Snow to represent Utah House District 74

Composite image: Democrat Kenzie Carter and Incumbent Rep. Lowry Snow compete for Utah's 74th Congressional District, location and date unspecified | Photos courtesy of Kenzie Carter and Lowry Snow respectively, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Incumbent Rep. Lowry Snow and challenger Democrat Kenzie Carter, both candidates for Utah’s 74th House District, recently spoke with St. George News about issues ranging from police reform to proposed gun laws.

See the candidates’ answers to questions from St. George News below. Candidates are presented in alphabetical order based on last names.

Kenzie Carter

Why do you think you’re the right candidate for the job and what issues are most pressing to you?

In an email to St. George News, Carter said she had a long and short answer for why she is the right candidate. Her long answer is she doesn’t feel that the current representatives understand or support the people who put them into office.

“I think corporate donors, lobbyists and special interest projects have taken priority over the needs and wants of the people. I was not happy with the hurried tax referendum that has now been repealed due to a statewide community effort, the tinkering with the voter-approved propositions of 2, 3 and 4, and the statewide pandemic response.”

Her short answer? It’s “time for change.”

The most pressing issues for Carter include appropriate funding for public schools, early childhood development programs and affordable childcare, adding also that “health care is a basic human right and needs to be treated as such.”

She also mentioned the critical importance of taking care of the environment for future generations.

“We must say no to the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Northern Corridor Highway. There are alternative solutions to these projects, alternatives that would not place such an enormous burden on taxpayers.”

Vetting for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community is also a top concern of hers.

“This includes anti-discrimination laws and prosecution of hate crimes. And let’s finally address the homeless population in our state. We have a wonderful community resource center here. I would like to see this solution modeled throughout our state.”

In light of recent events, do you see a need for police reform, and if so, what would that look like in terms of state law?

When it comes to police reform, Carter said this has become conflated and mistaken to mean something else.

“When we talk about police reform or more recently ‘defunding the police’ we seem to have an us-versus-them mentality. I think to many believe defunding the police means disbanding our police force and that people who are calling for police reform are ‘anti-police,'” she said. “The majority of people are in favor of and support law enforcement. I am in support of our law enforcement officers. However, I do feel we, as a society, put too much pressure and responsibility on our officers.”

The problem is that in addition to enforcing the laws within the community, police are also expected to be experts on mental health out in the field.

“We ask them to understand the dynamics of addiction, homelessness, poverty and all social elements that we should be addressing as a community as a whole,” she said.

In discussing police reform, she said it’s about finding a way to offer more support for our law enforcement officers who have become the catch-all, end-all to every circumstance. This starts with training and support.

“The cycle of incarceration begins somewhere. We can pinpoint that ‘somewhere’ by properly funding our education system. We can offer mental health care that is easily accessible and affordable. We can provide resources and assistance and end the stigma surrounding mental health, so children and adults feel secure in asking for help.”

Rehabilitation should replace incarceration for non-violent drug offenders.

Some of this training would be implementing anti-bias training for officers to help address the subtle microaggressions that can create dangerous situations for not only officers, but the public at large. She mentioned also the need for training officers how to respond on mental health calls and utilizing a mental-health task force.

“Let’s try de-escalation instead of lethal force. We need body cams for every officer in the state and a mandate that body cams are activated at all times when responding to a call. There are multiple ways we can address police reform within our communities and we need representatives who are willing and able to have these crucial conversations.”

What it comes down to for Carter is that law enforcement is being asked to do too much, with too little.

With guns more frequently appearing at recent protests, what are your thoughts on proposed red flag laws and ensuring firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands?

Carter said that while she feels it tragic that people feel the need to form a militia and attend a protest with assault rifles, this issue is not best addressed with red flag laws, adding that red flag laws are called into play when a loved one reports a mental health crisis.

The Fifth Amendment states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, she said. Red flag laws can deprive one of their constitutional right to this due process. But still, Carter thinks there is a way to have tighter gun restrictions that do not infringe on constitutional rights.

“Red flag laws not only put our community at risk, but also law enforcement officers when they respond to the call. To enter someone’s home that is in a state of crisis and remove their firearms could create a less than desirable outcome for all involved.”

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, what state-level initiatives would you support in terms of reopening the economy, helping struggling families and any guidelines or restrictions intended to help slow the spread of the virus?

“Our current political climate has created a breeding ground for misinformation and conspiracy theories. My question is when did we start listening to politicians instead of scientists when talking about public health,” she said. “I am not an epidemiologist and I have not spent the better part of a decade or more studying virus transmission rates, so I am going to defer to the experts to ensure the safety of our communities.”

With that being said, to Carter the response to the pandemic has been less than desirable; the level of suffering and death didn’t have to come to this.

“Not only are we talking about the loss of American lives, we are talking about the damage done to our economy,” she said. “The pandemic has brought to light the many shortcomings in our social institutions. We have experienced unprecedented levels of unemployment.”

With so many people out of work, having health care tied to employment status has created an insurmountable burden, which she said needs to change.

“Many people will soon be facing eviction and foreclosure because of their inability to make payments to keep a roof over their heads. The ability to obtain necessary products and services for distanced learning is a glaring disparity within our community. These are only a couple of shortcomings I see unfolding and I don’t believe we have seen the long-term impact or  the amount of required recovery needed due to the failed pandemic response.”

Rep. Lowry Snow

Why do you think you’re the right candidate for the job and what issues are most pressing to you?

Snow told St. George News that when he first considered running and taking the position, he felt strongly that Southern Utah and Washington County needed a “strong voice.”

“A voice of experience and one who could provide influence … on behalf of Washington County in the State Legislature,” he said. “I think the significant amount of experience I have had in public service, even prior to serving on the Legislature, has provided me with the skills and experience to provide that strong representation on behalf of the county.”

Snow thinks his legal experience helps, but he believes the public service positions he had prior to the Legislature have been more valuable than his legal experience.

At the top of the list of issues most pressing to Snow is the state’s response to the pandemic sue to its widespread impact affecting the health of the citizens, as well as dealing with the economic viability of the state and the education of children.

As current Chair of the House Education Committee, Snow said education remains a constant focus and is the second-most pressing issue to him.

“There’s a real need to improve the delivery of education services, and we don’t always have in this state all of the financial resources to accomplish all of those needs; however, I’m a big supporter of teachers,” he said while also revealing that his wife is a teacher.

Another primary concern of Snow’s is improving and preserving the state’s economic vitality, which he said also relates to the COVID-19 response. Some of his ideas for improvement include reducing regulations on small businesses, as well as providing opportunities for small businesses to expand in the state.

“Small business is really the drivers of our economy. We’re proud of the large businesses in our state, but it’s really the small business that employs the majority of our citizens in the private sector. Providing support for them is really important.”

Growth in the state also topped his list of most pressing issues, specifically how that growth is managed and prepared for while simultaneously maintaining a quality of life for the citizens.

“All the projections indicate that Utah is going to have a significant increase in population in the next 10 years. That includes the more urban counties, but it specifically indicates that Washington County is also going to be the recipient of that increase in population.”

In light of recent events, do you see a need for police reform, and if so, what would that look like in terms of state law?

Snow began by expressing his support for law enforcement in the state. Some of that support stems from his own work as a state prosecutor early in his career, in which he had to work very closely with law enforcement, he said. But as with every profession, good training is a critical component.

“I support reform that will help bolster training, but I am absolutely opposed to any legislation that will defund the primary core services that are provided by law enforcement, including public safety and including supporting officers who are on the frontlines: the law enforcement and first responders.”

What would reform look like? Snow said while he thinks the work has already begun and that there are two or three principles that are foundational to reform.

One is to establish additional resources for training, not just in how to respond to crises dealing with violence but also how to respond to those who may be suffering from a mental issue. With this, he said funding and utilization of those funds are important elements, which would benefit from law enforcement input.

Second would be to have more involvement of citizens in helping review officer responses and as well as working with law enforcement to develop better public outreach.

“The data shows, where we were able to have law enforcement communicate with and mingle with citizens, I think we have better outcomes and more support and respect for law enforcement. In many communities, that’s going to be a hard issue but I believe in Utah that’s something we could more forward with.”

The third fuundational principle of reform would be to help citizens understand the pressures that law enforcement are under when performing their work.

“Citizens need to be better educated, too, in as to how we can support them and their families. Some of that education, I think, would be helpful even at a young age.”

With guns more frequently appearing at recent protests, what are your thoughts on proposed red flag laws and ensuring firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands?

Snow said he remains a strong supporter of the right to bear arms, but that those rights have to balanced against the public needs and public safety.

“There are reasons why we don’t allow convicted felons to access firearms. There are reasons that we don’t allow others who suffer severe mental capacity to access firearms. That is one of the ways we balance those rights against the rights of the public.”

He said he has no problem in seeing people exercise their rights freely and openly as long as they abide by the law.

“That sometimes can be a shock to some people to see someone openly carrying a firearm or weapon, but it doesn’t bother me as long as that person is abiding the law.”

Snow said they use the term red flag laws to refer to those laws that would intervene in a person’s right to bear arms based on their behavior.

“I think whenever we look at legislation that interferes with a person’s constitutional rights whether it be freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech or Second Amendment, that we have to be very careful and cautious to make certain that that legislation does not interfere or obstruct a person’s constitutional rights.”

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, what state-level initiatives would you support in terms of reopening the economy, helping struggling families and any guidelines or restrictions intended to help slow the spread of the virus?

Snow said one of his sustaining and guiding principles is to always give weight and credence to decisions that are made by elected officials at a local level. From city government to county governments or local school boards, these positions are filled through elections and those elected officials are constitutionally the primary people for affecting legislation, making rules and regulations that affect the lives of the citizens they represent.

“There is – and has to be at times – some statewide control that oversees or provides direction to that local government,” he said. “I’m not certain at this point whether I can support a one-size-fits-all for our entire state when it comes to restrictions or opening up and getting rid of restrictions.”

In summary, he said he would like to see more of control given to the local governments and local leaders rather than issuing statewide mandates.

“We are not the same as Salt Lake County and we are not the same as Garfield County. Our schools are more populated than any other rural areas but not as populated, in terms of total population of children, as Salt Lake County, so I can’t ascribe every differentiating factor but there are many that local governments can take into account to provide the guidelines to protect its citizens.”

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2020 election by clicking here.

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

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