Democrats target Trump, GOP at Summit County convention
Utah House Minority Leader Brian King castigated President Donald Trump during his remarks at the Summit County Democratic Party Convention on Thursday, garnering applause and cheers from the audience.
“We are all troubled by what we see from the head of the Republican Party,” King said. “What an opportunity it gives us to show the rest of the state, country and world what we stand for in opposition to the Tweeter in Chief and the Chief Narcissist. I don’t think it’s a stretch or even difficult to state with truthfulness that this is the worst president we have had.”
Several of the other Democratic candidates who attended the convention also roused the audience with comments berating the president or federal government and highlighting what they see as a contrast between the Democratic and Republican parties while addressing constituents at Park City High School. “We need to talk about not just how bad Donald Trump is, but how far off the rest of the party has gotten and what we, as Democrats, are going to do in contrast to that,” said King, who is running unopposed to retain his House District 28 seat, which covers Summit Park and part of Pinebrook.
Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, Utah’s House Districts 53 and 54, as well as Senate District 26, addressed party members on Thursday. Most of the candidates for Summit County’s government races, including Summit County Councilor Glenn Wright, County Attorney Margaret Olson, Clerk Kent Jones and Auditor Michael Howard, were also on hand. Sheriff Justin Martinez and County Councilor Chris Robinson, whose seats are up for re-election, were not in attendance. All the county candidates are running unopposed.
Park City resident Christopher Neville, who is challenging District 53 Rep. Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, criticized the makeup of the current Legislature. He said, “Democracy demands more than one voice and more than one choice on the ballot.”
“This decision to run has made me hopeful for democracy,” he said. “All it takes is someone like me to represent people like you. My values are simple and I’m a success if I can work honestly toward three goals: fair representation, compassionate government and environmental stewardship.”
Parkites Meaghan Miller and Roberto M. Lopez are seeking to become the party’s nominee for House District 54, the seat Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber, currently holds.
Miller said she moved to Utah with her family when she was in second grade and wants to provide the same childhood she enjoyed to her two children.
“It is my privilege to raise my family here and know so many of you,” she said. “Our Legislature should be a caring community of us and it should be held accountable, which means I will be accountable to you and your voices.”
Lopez, who served in the military, said he wants to serve his country again and be a part of “this revolution.” He cited child care issues and a desire to reexamine the national monuments designations in the state as his top priorities.
Pat Vaughn and Eileen Gallagher, who are competing for the party’s nomination for the Senate District 26 seat, highlighted issues with public lands and Medicaid.
Vaughn, a Midway resident, said Utah is an “outdoor haven, but we don’t support conservation.”
“I came here for work, but fell in love with the beauty and the scenery,” she said.
Gallagher, a physician from Park City, expressed her interest in expanding Medicaid to cover all children in the state.
“My first major platform is based on health care because that is where I have expertise,” she said.
Davis County Democrats Lee Castillo and Kurt Weiland, who are challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Bishop for the 1st Congressional District seat, which includes Summit County, offered their qualifications to constituents, while expressing a desire to “save the land.”
“I do have a voice and I will listen to you to make sure your voice is heard in Washington,” Castillo said. “We need to get Rob Bishop out of there, and I am happy to fill that seat. He does not represent you and your interest. I am so tired of old, disconnecting, stubborn and alienating white men telling us what is best for us and our land.”
Weiland also highlighted the importance of public lands, emphasizing how threatened they are by the current federal administration.
“The administration has driven away the outdoor recreation industry and invited those who would drill, mine and strip,” he said.
U.S. Senate hopefuls Jenny Wilson and Mitchell Vice were also in attendance at the convention. Wilson and Vice are seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018. The Senate seat on the ballot is held by the retiring Republican Orrin Hatch.
Vice said he is a representative of the working class and committed to enabling “every American to thrive.”
“You have all these Democratic politicians, but they couldn’t do the work that they are doing without everyone else supporting them,” he said. “This is how the blue wave and revolution happens. We need to know we can win.”
Wilson highlighted her experience on the Salt Lake County Council and ability to work across party lines as evidence for why she should be the party’s nominee.
“I realized I could not look my kids in the eye and feel comfortable about their future if I did not step up,” she said. “We are going to have to fight. The candidates in our party need to believe we are going to win.”
After the candidates addressed the constituents, Summit County Democratic Party Chair Cheryl Butler reminded party members to encourage others to vote.
“We need to share stories of the candidates you just heard,” she said. “Make sure that everyone knows who they are and what they stand for. We are moving forward and this is the year we are going to flip seats in the State Legislature.”
The Summit County Republican Party convention is scheduled for April 17. The state GOP convention is scheduled to be held on April 21, followed by the Democratic Party State Convention on April 28.
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Most of the $5.1 million increase over last year’s budget is from an increase in grant funding for the Health Department.