The Republican Primary will be held on June 22. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. According to County Clerk Bruce Funk the Republican party is the only party with candidates on the primary ballot. Only registered Republicans or unaffiliated voters who are willing to affiliate with the Republican Party can vote at the polls. Those persons currently registered as Democrat, Green, Personal Choice, Natural Law and Libertarian cannot change their party affiliation for the primary election.
Funk said, "There is sometimes a misunderstanding about closed primaries. It will not effect your voting abilities or preferences to vote for any party and any candidate in November if you affiliate with the Republican party to vote in this primary election. In November, you could still choose to vote Democrat even if you voted Republican in this primary election."
Local choices for the Republican candidate for county commissioner include current commissioner Drew Sitterud who is running for reelection and challenger Lou Sansevero. In the second congressional district, Tim Bridgewater and John Swallow will be on the ballot. In the governor's race Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Nolan Karras are the two choices.
Recently the Emery County Chamber of Commerce held a Meet the Candidate night where the local Republican commission candidates as well as the Democratic hopeful Gary Petty were present. Tim Bridgewater and John Swallow also attended the event.
Chamber Chairman, Mike Hurdsman was the moderator for the evening.
Sanservero addressed the audience and he said one problem in the campaign and that was a lack of name recognition. He said he has heard a lot of stories recently about who he is. One story said he was a Greek guy from Price who wants to turn Emery County into Orange County, Calif. Sansevero said that he hates palm trees and he and his wife, Jo, left the rat race to settle in Emery County. "Jo and I could have chose to live anywhere and we chose Emery County." He said he likes being close to the desert and the forest. He thinks of Emery County as home to old fashioned values and a community of neighbors. Sansevero said he is a husband, father and a Vietnam Veteran. He has a bachelor's in business administration and spent 20 years with a career as a computer systems engineer.
Sansevero said he has been told he couldn't get elected in Emery County because he is not from here. He said he views not being from here as an advantage, he owes no favors and holds no grudges and has a fresh point of view. He said the county is in trouble although some people will tell you things are fine, and the high unemployment in the county is an indicator of those troubles. "The unemployment is 10-11 percent, which is twice the national average and that is not fine," said Sansevero. He said that Emery County has one of the highest per capita incomes in the state which means the people with jobs have good paying jobs. "Senator Bob Bennett said, 'If your neighbor is out of work it's a recession, if you're out of work it's a depression.' With 10-11 percent unemployment, I'd say we're in a depression and I'd like to do something about that. The young people have to head up north, your neighbors have to head up north, and that ain't fine. We need to help them out. The mineral lease money is in a decline and mining which has been a foundation is in a decline. Coal production is at a all time low."
Sansevero said the county is dependant on an industry which is in the decline and our communities are struggling to survive. He said we need to diversify to reduce the impact of these declines and become thriving, vibrant communities with economic growth and maintain the lifestyle we love, want and deserve. Hard work has made Utah world famous, with intelligent, well planned activity, recruiting tech based business and actively encouraging and supporting local businesses to provide more customers; we can involve citizens in the business of government, because government is a business and we can form partnerships. We can elect people to office with the vision and resolve to succeed. "I have the vision, the energy and the resolve to help get us there," said Sansevero.
A question was asked about what the kind of business Sansevero would bring into the county. Sansevero said he is currently working with an individual to bring part of an electrical business to the county and will continue to work to do something to help the county whether he is elected or not.
Sansevero also said that the county could be made attractive to businesses because of the lower overhead costs involved in operating here mentioning lower electric bills and workman's compensation taxes than in California. He said businesses who employ 50-100 people would be more likely to be recruited than larger companies who need more workers. He said he would work to sell the county and get out to trade shows to show what Emery County has to offer.
Sansevero said that county government can go out and look for grants for local businesses to expand and grow. He believes it is a function of local government to help local businesses to grow.
Sitterud was next to address the audience. He mentioned the lawsuit against the county which contends that the county is not protecting roads and taking BLM money. Sitterud said this is not true and the county has a contract with the BLM to provide a law enforcement presence on the Swell and the officer can only enforce state laws. The county is under an obligation to protect with or without the BLM funds.
At the beginning of the wild and scenic river issue the forest service had 38 rivers and now one river is left. The county has been fighting on a monthly basis at meetings with the forest service on wild and scenic river issues. The left fork of the Huntington is being considered for a scenic designation and the right fork a recreational designation. Any wild and scenic designation comes with a half a mile strip of wilderness with it along the riverside. Sitterud stressed that the county cannot afford any type of a designation on the Huntington or any other river. He cited a case in Colorado where a recreation designation of a river led to kayakers bringing a lawsuit to run water down the river for their use and the farmers lost out when a court ruled in their favor. Sitterud said the same thing happened in the Klamath Falls area where farmers lost their water. Sitterud said the county is doing everything they can to fight wild and scenic rivers. Sitterud said the work with the BLM has not been as successful as with the forest service. In one year's time, only one river has been eliminated on the BLM and 22 dry washes remain.
Sitterud said he believes maintaining our water supply is the biggest issue we have. Regarding economic development, Sitterud said four businesses are currently looking at the county for relocation. The new landfill down in Green River will employ 20 people when it gets started and they are still in the permitting process. Sitterud also stated that you need water for any new economic developments.
Sitterud said on the RS-2477 road issue, Emery County is doing what it is supposed to, they have gathered pictures, historical data, GPS data and recorded histories. The records are at the state attorney general's office waiting to be used.
Sitterud said he has learned something in the last four years and you need to have people behind you at the federal and state level working together.
Sitterud reacted to the statement that the county has not taken a proactive approach. He said the people of Emery County voted against the monument which was a proactive approach. Also legislation the county has presented in Congress over the last several years for a conservation area and other designations has failed.
Sitterud mentioned the grant monies the county has obtained recently to help rejuvenate the Huntington airport and also a grant for the ball complex for dugouts and fencing. The low water boat ramp money for Joe's Valley was also approved.
Petty was the first to address the audience, he thanked the chamber for giving him an opportunity to express his views on the issues. He said he had recently attended a meeting on public lands. He said it seemed like a few years ago the county was in an offensive mode in dealing with public lands and now seem to be in a defensive mode and reacting to what the BLM and the forest service dish out. An ATV group currently has a lawsuit against Emery County. Petty said it is his goal to provide leadership to bring the public lands issue to a closure. He feels the different groups involved are not communicating and that sometimes they all want the same things in the long run. No group is going to get everything they want.
Petty said he feels in the last 10 years not much has been done to improve economic development in the county. Unemployment is high and the mines and power plants need less people to operate than previously. Young people are forced to leave the county to find employment. Petty wants to offer incentives to business to locate here and for local businesses already here to expand. Petty mentioned two Emery businesses they had worked with when he was the mayor of Emery who are doing very well now, due in part to incentives to help them become established. Petty also said he wishes to establish a closer working relationship with the cities.