Democrat Lee Castillo headed to Park City: ‘People are my special interests’
Lee Castillo, the Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District, sees himself as having a loyalty to the constituents, something that sets himself apart from his competitors.
Castillo, who is a clinical social worker for the Utah State Hospital, is challenging the incumbent Republican congressman, Rob Bishop. Eric Eliason, who is the United Utah Party candidate, is also vying for the seat.
Castillo pledged in an interview he would represent the rank-and-file Utahns in the district if he is elected.
“I have no ties to anybody who would benefit from me being in there besides the people,” Castillo said, adding, “People are my special interests.”
Castillo outlined a platform that includes environmental and economic planks.
He said the environmental platform is key in a state like Utah, where the outdoor recreation industry is important to the economy. He noted the state lost the Outdoor Retailer trade show, a hit to the economy. Castillo wants the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument returned to the size they were during the administration of President Obama.
Castillo said the environmental platform influences the economic one. He said he wants Utah to have an “inviting environment” for tourism.
Castillo, meanwhile, criticized President Trump’s tax plan, saying the majority of people in the congressional district would benefit from the plan for 10 years only. Corporations and people whose incomes are in the top 1 percentile will benefit longer than 10 years, he said.
The Democratic candidates have struggled over the years in the 1st Congressional District. They typically have strong showings in Park City and surrounding Summit County, but the area represents only a small portion of the population of the district. Republicans have traditionally routed the Democrats and third-party candidates elsewhere in the district on their way to winning on Election Day.
Castillo predicted he will beat the incumbent and the United Utah Party candidate.
“I believe Summit County will play a huge role in our victory come November,” he said.
The presence of Eliason on the ballot makes the 1st Congressional District contest more intriguing than many past campaigns. Eliason is attempting to carve voters from the Republicans and the Democrats as he talks about issues like the tone in the country. The Democrat can likely not afford to lose votes to the third-party candidate given the partisan makeup of the district.
Castillo said there are tens of thousands of Democrats in the district while a third-party candidate like Eliason must start from “ground zero.”
“We’re 90,000 strong and adding,” Castillo said, describing the United Utah Party as having a “zero base.”
If Democrats rally, Castillo does not see Eliason as a threat. He also said Eliason could funnel away some Bishop votes.
“He is not as long as we’re sticking together,” he said about a threat from Eliason, adding, “We want to make sure people are staying with us.”
Castillo is scheduled to appear in Park City on Monday, Sept. 24, for a meet-the-candidate forum organized by the Summit County Democratic Party. The event is scheduled at 6 p.m. in the community room on the third floor of the Park City Library.
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.