Voters meet the candidates
Carbon County residents got an up close and personal look at candidates vying for office during a "Meet the Candidate Night" event on Monday night.
An overflow crowd packed the room at the Carbon School Board Office leaving many people sitting and standing in the hallway. The event, helped put on by the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce, brought many county residents out to see and hear what the candidates had to say on issues ranging from drug problems in the county, their motivations in running for office, USU-CEU and more.
The event was broken down into three sessions starting with the candidates for Carbon County Sheriff with Democrat James Cordova and Republican Robb Radley. The first main question posed to the two candidates was asking for their opinion on what the biggest problem Carbon County is facing currently. Both Cordova and Radley agreed that the biggest problem in the county is drugs. (See related story, this page.)
"It's (drugs) the number one problem in our area," Cordova said. "This is an issue that affects everyone in Carbon County." Cordova also noted that the jail is filled to capacity with an overflow of inmates, many of whom are in jail due to drug related offenses.
To help combat the issue of drugs in the county, Radley suggested that the community can play a large role in tackling the issue.
"The community needs to be involved and we need to work with the families (of drug users)," Radley said. "Bringing everything together will help the most with this issue."
Another topic that was posed to both Cordova and Radley was their motivation in running for office. Radley said the main reason he is running for office is because of families in the county, including his own. Radley wants to resolve many issues, including the drug problem, to "fix and help the community, accomplishing work as a team," he said.
Cordova, a third generation Carbon County resident, said he always wanted to be in law enforcement since a young age and his motivation to run comes from his goal of striving to make sure the community is safe.
The second session of the event had the candidates running for positions as Carbon County Commissioners. Republican Jae Potter and Democrats John Jones and David Palacios attended the event, answering questions and sharing their viewpoints. Republican Travis Blackburn, who is also running for Carbon County Commission, was not present at the event.
One question posed to the three candidates asked them what does the community need from USU-CEU. Potter said that education is a key in getting people and students to come out to the college and stay after finishing.
"The college has done a wonderful job offering an education to the local community. Education is the key for getting people to stay here after graduating," Potter said.
Jones said he has seen a lot of new energy after the merger with Utah State University. He said he hopes to see an atmosphere where students are able to go to school and find work as well.
"Jobs help build the backbone of our education," Jones said.
Palacios said he agreed with their thoughts and said that "the blue collar work going on around here is very important to the community."
Another question posed to the candidates asked how to better market Carbon County. Palacios said one key would be to create better relations with the state government, getting rid of the "stigma" Carbon County has with the state. Potter said that Carbon County may not be big enough to attract a national image. He said the best way to work on the issue is to not just advertise the area, but market it more effectively. Jones said that a lot of traffic passes through the area but there is not a stable hospitality group around here which can hurt the local restaurants and motels. Jones said that word of mouth is very important in marketing the county.
The final session of the event had Utah State Rep. Christine Watkins, D-69, answer questions. Because she is running unopposed, Watkins spent the majority of her time answering questions posed to her by people in the audience.
One question posed to Watkins asked her opinion on what the number one problem facing the state and Carbon County. Watkins said that the one main issue the state is going to be focusing on will be illegal immigration. "It's going to be a huge issue this year," she said. Watkins is hoping to see a type of work permit program started for those people that are already here.
On the county level, Watkins said that the issue of federal government taking land away is an important topic. Having the land be tied up and taken away is not right, Watkins said, especially since the lands have been taken care of by people for generations.
"They are taking away our livelihood," she said. "We're smart, we can take care of it and we have been doing so for generations."
With the turnout from the community and getting candidates to discuss key issues, the event was a success, according to Ann Evans, coordinator with the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce. Evans said she was surprised and excited to see the turnout for the event.
"It's good to see many people that are interested in the local community," Evans said. "Hopefully this event will help people make an educated decision when they go to vote."