The Park Record editorial, June 2-5, 2012 | ParkRecord.com

The Park Record editorial, June 2-5, 2012

It's voters' turn to grill candidates, give them an earful

Voters all along the political spectrum have been expressing their impatience with the federal government, specifically with the gridlock that seems to make consensus all but impossible. But citizens have to take some responsibility for the deteriorating atmosphere in Washington, D.C., too. Often, we are guilty of criticizing our elected officials for being unresponsive, while at the same time, failing to offer informed feedback on specific issues.

But election years offer a perfect opportunity to change that. For the next five months, incumbents and challengers for state and federal offices across the country will be forced into the public arena to try to win voters’ support. It is a great exercise for them and for the citizens they purport to represent.

In Park City, that process officially kicks off Monday when the two Democratic candidates vying in a primary race for the chance to oust incumbent U.S. Representative Rob Bishop in November participate in a debate at the Santy Auditorium. The event will give voters a chance to hear where the candidates stand on a whole host of issues from war to welfare and from energy to education. As importantly, the forum and the many that are sure to follow throughout the campaign season can help to give candidates on the federal, local and state levels a sense of what is important to the residents of Park City and Summit County.

Let’s give them an earful.

During his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Bishop has towed a staunchly conservative line. As a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and chairman of the subcommittee that controls national parks and forests he wields a lot of power over decisions regarding large swaths of land in Utah. Most recently he sponsored the bill to authorize the sale of 30 acres in the Wasatch Cache National Forest to make way for a ski lift connecting the Canyons and Solitude resorts.

As for his record on environmental issues, Bishop has supported efforts to ease regulations protecting endangered species and opposed incentives for energy conservation. He also voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases and has supported legislation to increase offshore drilling.

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On Monday, we hope citizens will ask Ryan Combe and Donna McAleer where they stand on those issues as well as their views on regulating financial institutions, defining marriage and addressing the rising costs of health care. We hope citizens will also press them for new ideas that address immigration, gun control and education.

And we hope residents don’t stop there. The same debate needs to be played out on the Republican side where there will be a heated primary between senatorial candidates Orrin Hatch and Dan Liljenquist.

It is fair to say that citizens get the leaders they deserve. Therefore, this election season, we owe it to ourselves to demand clear and honest answers from those who seek our votes.

The Summit County Democratic Party’s congressional debate will be held Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. in the Santy Auditorium in the Park City Library and Education Center. The public is encouraged to attend.