Summit County Democratic barbecue energizes party | ParkRecord.com

Summit County Democratic barbecue energizes party

Angelique McNaughton/The Park Record | House District 54 Democratic candidate Meaghan Miller addresses party members at a gathering in Rotary Park on Tuesday. Miller is optimistic about her chances of replacing Rep. Tim Quinn (R-Heber) in the November election.

Summit County Democratic candidates appeared energized at a recent gathering of party members, with many declaring "this is the year" for Democrats to come out on top and end GOP rule at the state and federal levels.

A crowd of more than 50 people attended the Summit County Democratic Party's annual summer barbecue, spending more than two hours nestled among the trees at Rotary Park at the base of Thaynes Canyon. The event provided another opportunity for party members to meet with county, state and federal office candidates or their representatives as the November election nears.

Party members were able to hear short speeches from the Statehouse candidates in attendance, as well as representatives for federal candidates who were unable to attend the event. Most spoke about their grassroots campaigning efforts and their chances of flipping state legislative seats from Republican to Democratic. Conversations were also had about several initiatives that will appear on the November ballot, including a push to legalize medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion and redistricting reform.

Park City resident Christopher Neville, who is challenging House District 53 Rep. Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, said most of his campaigning for the long-held Republican seat has taken place in western Summit County. Neville said he has knocked on hundreds of doors, speaking with just as many voters about his perspective and desire to become involved in state politics to represent those who feel like they aren't being heard.

"We're calling phones and we're knocking on doors. We are engaging with people," he said. "I try to bring up issues at the door. I try to talk about public lands. I try to talk about the environment. But, the biggest issue people want to talk about is they don't feel like they are being properly represented by their state. We are trying to build excitement around these races and get people to become involved and feel like their vote counts. We've got three winnable races here."

Parkite Meaghan Miller is seeking the House District 54 seat now held by Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber. She said most of her time has been spent in Wasatch County, where she will need to garner significant support to replace Quinn. Some of her greatest supporters there are women, she added.

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"They are really excited about other women running this year and that has been really awesome," she said. "From the conversations I've had, I'm learning that more and more people are looking at the candidates' qualifications and what they can do for our community over their party affiliation."

Eileen Gallagher also attended the event and spoke briefly about her campaigning efforts. She is competing for the Senate District 26 seat to succeed Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, who is not seeking reelection to a fourth term. Representatives for U.S. Senate hopeful Jenny Wilson and Lee Castillo, who is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Bishop for the 1st Congressional District seat, which includes Summit County, solicited support from party members. Wilson's representative attacked her well-known Republican challenger Mitt Romney's political background as a former governor of Massachusetts and his out-of-state financial contributions.

Summit County Democrat and Lee representative Sheila Raboy said he felt compelled to run for a congressional seat to be able to bridge the divide "politically, socially and theologically." She added, "That's why I support him."

"This is the first time I think in a very long time that we actually have a chance to win," she said.

Only two of the candidates for Summit County's government races — County Attorney Margaret Olson and Sheriff Justin Martinez, who are both running unopposed — attended the gathering.

Martinez and Olson both said they attended to offer their support to the candidates in competitive races.

"When I ran for my election in 2014, I had so much backing from the community and the Democratic Party, and if I was running against an opponent this is where I would be looking for that support," Martinez said.

Olson provided similar comments. She said she's volunteered to knock on doors for the other candidates and help them financially because she doesn't have to run her own campaign.

"I came out to support the local party, but more importantly the candidates, and I'm not just supporting them because they are Democrats," she said. "These are people I know and have been attending meetings with."

Ballots will be mailed to Summit County voters on Oct. 16 and should arrive around Oct. 19. Ballots will need to be postmarked no later than Nov. 5.