A Democratic Meet the Candidate Night on Tuesday evening at North Park Park was accompanied by heavy rains and strong winds. The raging storm echoed the tempest forecasted by those candidates who addressed a handful of their party’s constituents.
“Congress has been quite dysfunctional for the past two years,” said Donna McAleer, running for US House 1 against incumbent Rob Bishop. “Every year we have the opportunity to replace 82 percent of our representatives. But who do we send back? Career politicians. Why do we keep sending back the same people with the same results?”
She said Democrats have the opportunity to bring a new perspective and new leadership to the Washington scene, a chance to draw attention to the growing diversity of Utah. But there must first be a change in the public’s perception.
She said Utah voters are notorious for automatically voting based on the “R” or “D” letter next to a person’s name and not on what that candidate stands for. She urged those in attendance to carry the democratic message to family members and neighbors.
“This is about politics at the grass roots level,” she said of her campaign. “Talk to 10 people who may not vote. This is how we change our government. We need to get out and vote.”
Her words were reiterated by Charles A. Stormont, candidate for Utah Attorney General. “The way we bring change is to be active, to talk to people,” he told the group. Stormont is an experienced trial lawyer and has worked in the Utah Attorney General’s office for the past six years.
He said the mess now in that office with John Swallow currently shows the need for more transparency in government, something he hopes to bring back if elected. “We need to put the law first in the AG office and get politics out.”
The attorney general should first and foremost be a legal advisor, he continued. “Politics have no business in the law. We are serving the people.”
He says reform in that state office is necessary to provide more effective service and independence. “I will bring it back,” Stormont concluded.
Dorene Schulze-Stever, a Tremonton resident, echoed her fellow candidates’ counsel. “We need to break the ‘race’ barrier and put the best candidate into office,” she said. Schulze-Stever will be on the November ballot, vying for the Utah House of Representative District 1 seat vacated by Ronda Rudd Menlove.
Continually voting a straight party has become too easy for many constituents, the candidate continued. “We need to get the word out that it is okay to vote for a Democrat,” adding that encouraging younger voters to go to the polls is vital in continuing the electoral process.
As a worker in the medical industry, she said her focus, if elected, will be to get mental health service dollars into rural Utah. “I want to be a voice for those who do not have a voice.”
The Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives from District 29, Alan Yorgason, said he was raised in a Republican household, as his father served as a state senator. “I am not a partisan person,” he told his audience, “but something different has to happen that is not happening now.”
He said politicians have become so divided on so many issues that the public is suffering, offering the current debate on healthcare as an example. “We have done such foolish things with healthcare because of our partisan attitude,” he said.
Yorgason believes strongly in education and putting more money into keeping good teachers. “It is imperative that we do that,” he concluded.