Congressional hopeful addresses drugs as Park City reels from deaths |

Congressional hopeful addresses drugs as Park City reels from deaths

Peter Clemens, the Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District, addresses a small crowd on Tuesday in the Snyderville Basin, covering topics like housing and federal lands. Clemens is a physician from North Ogden attempting to unseat the Republican incumbent, Rep. Rob Bishop
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Congressional candidate Peter Clemens, appearing in the Snyderville Basin on a day when the Park City area was reeling from the deaths of two teens, said in an interview he wants a discussion on the national level about illicit drugs.

The cause of death of the two teens – both Treasure Mountain Junior High eighth-graders — was not immediately determined, but the Park City Police Department issued a warning about a dangerous synthetic opioid as the deaths were publicized.

Clemens, the Democratic nominee in the 1st Congressional District, said in an interview he wants renewed talks about illegal drugs and, particularly, sentencing for people convicted in drug cases. He said, as an example, people convicted in nonviolent cases involving heroin or other opioids should be ordered to undergo treatment rather than be put into prison. The U.S. cannot “warehouse people” convicted in nonviolent drug cases, he said.

Clemens, a North Ogden physician who specializes in treating wounds, also said he supports expanded use of medicines in doctor offices to treat people addicted to opioids. Clemens praised the efforts of law enforcement in Park City in responding to the deaths. Wade Carpenter, the chief of police in Park City, has been especially involved in the investigation and the public-relations efforts.

“I would be grieving and mourning with this community. I would be supporting our wonderful people like Chief of Police Wade Carpenter,” Clemens said, describing how he would have responded had he been a congressman at the time of the deaths.

Clemens held a moment of silence at the Tuesday event in honor of the two teens.

Clemens visited the Park City area as he attempts to solidify support in one of the 1st Congressional District’s Democratic strongholds. Clemens is expected to post solid returns in Park City and surrounding Summit County on Election Day, as Democrats in the district have in the past. He will likely have difficulty, though, elsewhere in the district. Rob Bishop, the Republican incumbent, has easily dismissed Democratic challengers with widespread support in the northern reaches of the 1st Congressional District.

Clemens said he would open full-time congressional offices in Park City and Vernal if he is elected. He said the two communities would receive special attention.

Clemens drew a crowd of a little more than 10 people to the Park City Community Church on S.R. 224. He covered a range of issues that have long been important topics in the Park City area, including housing, public lands and immigration reform.

Clemens said Park City’s housing issues are similar to other mountain resorts like Sun Valley, Idaho, that have many workers in the service industry.

“All of the communities are grappling with this same issue,” Clemens said, indicating he has spoken with Park City Mayor Jack Thomas about the topics.

He said housing solutions in Ogden might not be the same ones for Park City. Clemens said Congress could consider some form of tax credits to assist the situation, but he did not provide details. He argued for a living wage and said that such a wage could differ between states. He said people who are willing to work hard should be able to afford rent, food and other basic necessities.

Clemens said people in the Generation X and millennial age groups may be the first to say they do not expect to have a higher living standard than their parents.

“Part of that can be answered with a living wage,” he said.

Clemens said college tuition and books should be provided free of charge at state universities.

The candidate said federally owned lands are best managed by Washington. He said he would be concerned if the federal lands are transferred to the control of the state government. Clemens said the state would be required to create a bureaucracy to manage the lands and said he feared the possibility of the state turning the lands over to private-sector interests. Clemens separated himself from Bishop as he spoke about public lands, claiming the there are lots of contributors from outside the congressional district and outside the state on the incumbent’s list of donors.

“Almost all of that money is coming from gas, oil and casinos,” Clemens said, adding, “Follow the money trail.”

Clemens, meanwhile, outlined in an interview his immigration platform, describing a need to secure the borders and create a pathway to citizenship. He said the pathway would be designed for people who are learning English, do not have a felony record, are gainfully employed and are either paying taxes or making an effort to pay them. Clemens said he supports allowing children of people who arrived in the U.S. undocumented to remain in the country.

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