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Democrats visit county to talk about redistricting boundaries

County commissioner Laurie Pitchforth along with state party chairman Jim Dabakis and county party chairman Gary Petty.

By PHIL FAUVER
Staff writer

Utah State Democrat Party Chairman Jim Dabakis visited Emery County Aug. 22, at the Museum of the San Rafael. Gary Petty the Emery County Democrat Party Chairman and Commissioner Laurie Pitchforth warmly greeted Chairman Dabakis to Castle Dale. They also greeted his assistants Emily Hallingshead, Media and Communications Coordinator for this event and Justin Daniels from the Utah State Democrat Party headquarters.

A number of people came out to hear what the Utah State Democrat Party Chairman had to tell them about current situations in Washington and Utah.

This meeting was part of a whirlwind trip around the Eastern and Southern parts of the State of Utah to build up support for the Democrat plan regarding redistricting four Legislative Districts and to recruit people to the Democrat Party. They have been to Springville, Price and Castle Dale. Their next stop would be Moab, and then spend the night in Page, Ariz. The next morning they planned to be in Kanab, then on to Richfield and St. George.

Dabakis welcomed everyone to the meeting and said we as Democrats are trying to be more welcoming so we can get more representation in Rural Utah to win elections. He said, "The Democrat Party claims it is the party of the giant tent and we welcome all types of people in. However we haven't been as comfortable with the rural people, the coal miners or people that believe in nuclear power. As a Democrat I do believe we do want those people in our tent. Having all of those people in the tent may cause some conflicts but we will work around them.

"Look at the conflicts that are going on in the Republican Party. As Democrats we have a big tent but the Republicans have a pup tent. If you as a Republican do not like the ideology of the Republican Party you are out. Bob Bennett was too liberal and now Orrin Hatch is too liberal and Jason Chaffetz wants him out. In the Republican Party if you are not conservative enough you're out. Bob Bennett was not conservative enough.

"A political party has to set up a tent big enough to listen to everyone with courtesy. Respect other people even though you do not agree with them. A lot of Utahns do not believe in the mess that is coming out of Washington from both Republicans and Democrats.

"Some of the Utah Democrats do not agree with the parts of the Democrat Platform that is coming out of Washington. Easterners in Washington do not understand the land use and water issues that concern the West Utah Democrats are much different. We are much less about spreading our ideology and more about rolling up our sleeves and like Jim Matheson, looking at the situation and solving problems. Democrats have a lot more opinions and a lot more back and forth. Most Utahns do not think that Orrin Hatch is too liberal.

"I am a Utah Democrat and all that mess that is going on in Washington, the humiliation that happened a couple of weeks ago, the incivility of it all is disappointing.

"People of good will should be able to sit down and solve problems. Stop all of the ideology. That is what it is going to take to get the country back where it needs to be. I am not proud of the National Democrat Party and I am certainly not proud of the National Republican Party," said Dabakis.

Dabakis asked the question, "Do you think Southern Utah should have its own Legislative District?"

Petty said, "All of rural Utah should be in one district and let the Wasatch Front have the other three districts. That would give us better representation."

Dabakis described one of the proposals for redistricting as pizza slices with all districts for Utah having rural areas and a portion of Salt Lake County. He stated that this could result in four legislators all being elected from the Wasatch front and rural Utah could wind up with no representation. The current redistricting proposals do not take in the concerns of rural Utah. His solution was to set up a Southern Utah District that would take in rural Utah South of the Wasatch Front. This would allow Southern Utah to have its own legislator to represent rural Utah.

Dabakis asked the group, "How do you feel about nuclear power and the proposed plant in Green River?"

One of the concerns mentioned was the need for water from Green River to operate the plant. Commissioner Pitchforth reported that the water shares are already leased by the proposed plant and she is in favor of building the nuclear power plant. The water used by the plant will not go back into the river or contaminate the river.

Petty asked, "Will there be housing and infrastructure for temporary workers constructed and then abandoned when the plant is completed?" It was stated by one of the participants, that the plan calls for transporting people by bus to and from local communities instead of building housing. Someone stated that any temporary housing built would be removed when the construction of the plant is completed. A large influx of workers might overwhelm Green River.

Dabakis thanked every one for participating in the meeting and said, "If there are any issues that you think the Utah Democrat Party can help with don't hesitate to request that help."

Commissioner Pitchforth and Petty thanked Dabakis for taking the time to come and visit in Emery County.




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