Utah Democratic candidates rouse party members at Summit County convention
Several of Utah’s Democratic candidates stopped in Park City over the weekend hoping to rouse party members and build momentum ahead of November’s election.
"This is our year" was the oft-repeated phrase by candidates and party members during the Summit County Democratic Convention on Saturday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, in Park City.
"Utah could vote for a Democrat for the first time since 1964," Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon told the audience during opening remarks.
The Democratic candidates for governor, Utah Attorney General, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Represenatives, House Districts 53, 54, 25 and Senate District 19 addressed party members, as did County Council candidates Roger Armstrong, Kim Carson and Glenn Wright. House Minority Leader Brian King, (D-Salt Lake City), who is running unopposed, was also on hand.
"Can you think of anything more miserable than being a Republican this time of year? You have a choice between two guys, Trump or Cruz. I mean, can I just bang my head into a wall?" King said. "Mia Love recently says, ‘they are coming after me’ talking about Democrats and then she said, ‘but we are going to stand up and make it clear that liberal policy has no place in this state and this country.’ I just thought, really?"
Wasatch County Democrat Rudi Kohler, who is challenging Republican incumbent Kraig Powell, (R-Heber City), for his seat in District 54, drew applause from the audience several times, while discussing his views and the "things that can be fixed."
"We should have full Medicaid expansion and I don’t go for ‘expansion lite,’" Kohler said. "I do support a woman’s right to choose. Some may find that offensive, but I think you should know where I stand. We also need to end the opposition to Planned Parenthood."
Cole Capener, a Sun Peak resident, filed to represent District 53 in the state House of Representatives. He will face incumbent Rep. Mel Brown, (R-Coalville), or Republican challenger Seth Winterton, of Woodland, depending on the results of the Republican Convention
Capener told party members there is a disconnect between what the majority of Utahns want and what the Legislature does.
"They passed a resolution this year to take away our vote to elect U.S. senators," Capener said. "They are taking our vote away and I can tell you right now that everyone will be concerned and that’s an issue. Of course my opponent, who I assume will be the incumbent Mel Brown, supported it."
Deana Froerer, an economics instructor at Weber State University, is the candidate attempting to unseat District 19 Utah Sen. Allen Christensen, (R-North Ogden). Froerer is a Kansas native and has been involved with education in Utah for more than 20 years.
"I don’t want to talk about what I did, but I want to talk about what is possible and the hope that I feel here. I want anything to be possible for everyone, regardless of where they started, who they are or who they love," Froerer said. "And I know that education is the key to economic opportunity. I know that and I bring to the table 20-plus years worth of experience We need a voice in the Legislature that has been molding minds."
Peter Clemens, who is running for U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop’s District 1 seat, promoted himself as an "independent voice for all of Utah." A physician by trade, Clemens said he has spent his life "helping people to try and breathe." He said he wants to provide leadership to help clean up Utah’s air, which is something "Bishop has famously said he has no responsibility for."
Clemens also voices his support of legalizing medical marijuana.
"We have a surge in this country of narcotic addiction, which leads to heroin addiction," Clemens said. "I am telling you that medical cannabis will provide the answers to our addiction. It is something we will regulate, it is something we will schedule and the doctors will prescribe responsibly."
Jonathan Swinton said he has the best chance to win a state-wide election against U.S. Sen. Mike Lee. Swinton, a marriage counselor and therapist, he wants to "take those skills to Washington."
"As a business owner, I am proud to tell you that everyone who works for me receives equal pay and it needs to be the same nationally," he said. "I am also proud to share that every employee who works with me earns a living wage and that also needs to change."
Misty K. Snow is also challenging Lee and hoping for the Democratic nod as the party’s nominee over Swinton. Snow described herself as "very progressive" in her views on women’s rights, paid maternity, LGBT equality and clean energy.
"I think progressive policies are what Utahns want. They will show up to support progressive policies if they are on the ballot and I will be that progressive," Snow said. "We need to support clean energy and the way we need to do that is we need to directly tax and use that money to make investments into solar energy and wind energy so we can clean up our air and prevent climate change."
Jon Harper hopes to take the Utah Attorney General Office back from the Republican Party. Harper said while his opponents are challenging his political experience, he has more than 37 years as a practicing attorney.
"The position of attorney general is not about political experience," Harper said. "It is an office where an attorney general should be an independent voice who is providing a check in our checks and balances."
The convention closed with remarks from the two Democratic candidates vying for governor, Vaughn Cook and Mike Weinholtz.
Cook said his background as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints places him in a unique position in the race in a largely red state. He said he hopes to challenge the myth in Utah that only Republicans are Mormon.
On the other side, Weinholtz said Democrats have been letting Republicans define who they are for too long and "I will not let that happen anymore."
"Democratic values are Utah values whether it is taking care of each other, making sure our children are educated or making sure we have clean air," Weinholtz said. "Let me tell you something about myself, I am not a politician. This is the first time I am running for office, which means I will never make a decision for political reasons like our current politicians do today. I am only running to answer a call to serve that I have felt very deeply. I have one ideology I am following and that is putting people first."
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The vote was split 3-1, with Rodney Robbins the lone dissenting vote. Adrianne Anson, Arlin Judd and Cody Blonquist voted for it; Tyler Rowser was absent because of a medical procedure.