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Meet the Candidates Night

Kristen Taylor and Jeff Richens are both running unopposed in their districts for the Carbon School Board. Both stressed their knowledge of education issues and commitment to students.
Casey Hopes, Republican hopeful for the open county commission seat, said he wants the county to be strong enough economically to offer young people an opportunity to stay here. He is a supporter of coal and natural gas development but wants to encourage diversification of the economic base. Hopes said one way to improve economic development is to boost tourism in the region. Through increased visitation, more people will see what the county has to offer in terms of resources and quality of life. He would also make sure that contractors hire local people. Hopes supports the idea of increased recreation for young people but said it is too late now to back out of construction of the new county office complex. The funding is in place and he doesn't want to walk away from it. While he would vote from the heart on the issues, Hopes said that he would be a representative of the people's will first and foremost. He also said he wants to work closely with the college.
Mikel Johnson, the Democratic contender for the open county commission seat, said that the best way to assess what people think on an issue is to put it to a vote. Johnson says he agrees that the county needs its new office building because he has seen first hand what bad shape the current building is in. He said that if he is elected, he will resign as a county employee and work as a full-time commissioner. Johnson said that he thinks the top issue facing the county is to hold on to its water supply. He admitted that he has no specific ideas on how to promote economic development, but stressed that the water supply is of paramount importance. He added that he is more than willing to work with the college for mutual promotion, but also thinks that it is "a two-way street," saying that USU could do more outreach. in the community. Johnson also supports the fossils fuels industries.
Peter S. Cooke, Democratic Party candidate for governor, declared that the current political atmosphere is geared toward urban centers and big business, and neglects the needs of rural areas and small businesses. He noted that the state has offered $646 million in tax incentives to attract bigger businesses. Cooke, a retired Army Major General and businessman, said, "You need to get into the economy to see what's going on." He supports diversification of the economy, and while encouraging alternative energy development, he said that fossil fuels should be energy sources for a long time. Cooke is opposing incumbent Gary Herbert, who did not attend the session.
Third Congressional District candidate Soren Simonsen said his eight years of experience on the non-partisan Salt Lake City Council have taught him how "you can break out of the partisan boundaries that cripple us." Campaign finance and ethics reform head the list of items on his agenda. He told listeners he is pro-choice on abortion, supports the right of choice of whom to marry, and environmental protection. Simonsen, a Democrat, said he does not want to shut down coal and natural gas power, but that he believes they are finite resources and that burning coal and petroleum does harm urban areas.
Democrat Christine Watkins is running for reelection in Utah House District 69. She pledged to continue the battle to "keep our landscape and our economy" safe. Watkins recounted success in getting federal agencies to consider local views rather than rule from afar, and in protecting funding for small, rural schools in her district.
Jaynie Rae Nielsen is running for reelection for Carbon School Board District 2. She said she wants to see math and music programs strengthened. She added that has experience and is able to visits schools often.
Melanie Fausett is running for election to the Carbon School Board District 2. She said that she is "passionate and compassionate" in the things she is committed to. As a nurse, she is dedicated to service.
Michael L. Binyon of Moab is running as a Democrat in the race for Utah Senate District 27. He said he is running because Utah needs more diversity in the state legislature. He would like to see more funding for education, particularly early education, and more help for local colleges and trade schools.
Democrat Dee Smith. Is running for Utah Attorney General. Smith, Weber County Attorney, is concerned about the harm of narcotics traffic. On land issues, Smith said is is in favor of working with federal agencies rather than turning them into enemies. Neither candidate thought the expense in fighting to have federal land turned over to the state is worth it.
Libertarian Andrew McCullough, Is also running for Utah Attorney General. McCullough favors legalizing marijuana and taxing it and said that the war on drugs is leading only to more prisons. He also wants to trim the size of the attorney general's office.

As moderator Delynn Fielding put it, "This is truly the most important election in recent memory, across the board." Here's a recap of those who spoke at Monday's event, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.




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