Becky and Katie Weber at the Meet the Candidate night, they led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. The girls are from South Jordan and were visiting with grandparents Lou and Jo Sansevero.
Rue Ware is the incumbent in the school board for Orangeville. He came to Orangeville when he was 3 years old and has a long history in the county. He is a graduate of Utah State University and the Emery County School system. He trained in the Air Force and was offered a job teaching at the school he attended, but he told them no he wanted to go home, so he returned to Emery County. He taught in the Emery district for many years as a shop, math and Utah history teacher. He taught 2,100 people to drive as a drivers education instructor.
Laurie Pitchforth is the democratic candidate for the county commission seat currently held by Drew Sitterud. She is originally from Kamas and moved with her family to Delta where they operated a restaurant. In Delta, she met her husband Shane Pitchforth who worked for Utah Power. His work brought the family to Emery County. Pitchforth has been active in community service over the 23 years they have been in the county. They have helped with Peach Days, youth soccer, PTA and she was a Ferron city council member for several years. The past seven years she has been the director for the RSVP program and the foster grandparent program. These programs have been rejuvenated and now serve a large volunteer base. "I believe in community service and believe I have a great deal to offer the county," said Pitchforth.
Brad King is the democratic candidate for the state senate position open due to the retirement of Sen. Mike Dmitrich. He has been a member of the House of Representatives for 12 years. Public education is very important to him as is transportation. King said he has enjoyed serving the people of Carbon and Emery counties and hopes to continue to do so. His parents are from Emery County and he was raised in Carbon County. He holds a bachelors and masters degree and is a professor at CEU.
Lou Sansevero, moderator for the evening asked the questions. The first question was to all the candidates regarding schools and teachers regarding why poor teachers aren't recalled and why money pours into an inferior system.
Bob Springmeyer, democratic candidate for governor responded that educators should be held accountable, young people should be prepared to enter the workforce or college. "Education must be important in the home. It is a joint responsibility with the schools," said Springmeyer. He said volunteerism in the schools is also an important factor to students success and families and communities need to be involved in education.
David Hinkins, republican candidate for state senate said sometimes if we say we aren't good at something then we don't even try to excel in that subject. So many people think they aren't good with math. But, more effort needs to go into subjects we aren't comfortable with. "As parents, we must encourage our children, it's up to the parents. We must encourage families to keep education as one of our guidelines." Hinkins also said he is a member on the board of trustees at CEU.
Bill Dew is the republican candidate for the third congressional district. He said his father taught school and he has two daughters that teach special education. In their experience they have never had a failure where the parents have gotten involved in their child's education.
Janeal Dugmore is the candidate for school board for Ferron. She said parents need to involve themselves in their children's education, it cannot all be left up to teachers and school. There are programs available like the new math program which sends papers home, so the parents can learn along with the child and be able to answer the questions the student might have. These interactive programs promote parent participation and help keep the students interested. Parents should also attend parent teacher conferences so they can see where their child needs help.
Brad King, democratic candidate for the state senate said he has been an educator all of his adult life and there is always room for improvement. There needs to be money for retraining of teachers. Utah has one of the finest education systems in the nation.
Drew Sitterud is the incumbent republican candidate for county commission. He said education starts with the family. The family must be supportive. In Emery County a student can have their associates degree in only one year, due to all the Advanced Placement classes offered at Emery High. Seventeen percent of Emery County students go onto college. Most jobs in Emery County don't require college degrees.
Laurel Johansen incumbent school board member for Castle Dale/Lawrence/part of Huntington said it starts with young mothers; they need to get excited about learning and share that with their children. "In the Emery District we do more with less. Most of the teachers in our district would do anything to help their students succeed," said Johansen.
Mike McCandless is the challenger to Johansen. He said one of the problems in the community with businesses is they can't find skilled workers. Students are not prepared for college or the workforce. Students don't know the skills they need. It is a challenge to fill entry level positions. It is important to develop these skills in the students at an earlier age. "They need to see these opportunities earlier in their lives," said McCandless.
Sam Singleton incumbent candidate for school board from Ferron said education begins with mom and dad. A child who is read to will be a better reader. He related the story of a boy in a play and his parents didn't think it was important enough to come and see him in the play. The boy was crushed. This is the first year an elementary counselor has been hired to go around helping troubled students in the elementary schools.
Ware said Emery County has an outstanding group of teachers and educators. Most are well trained and educated and know what they are doing. Emery County has many examples of successful students.
Laurie Pitchforth, democratic candidate for county commission said she visited her son who is a teacher at San Rafael on parent/teacher conference day. Very few parents came in, those parents who did weren't the ones who had children who are struggling. She said not all students fit into a box and sometimes schools don't teach to the individual needs of students.
The state senate candidates were asked about immigration. King said that securing the borders is a federal issue. Hinkins said one of his concerns is the Canadian border because terrorists have come across that border and it's important to secure our borders.
Springmeyer also commented on the immigration question saying he supports the stand of the LDS church on immigration which calls for compassion.
The next question dealt with the wildlife crossings on US-6 and wondered why so much money was put into projects like that when SR-10 is falling apart.
Springmeyer said US-6 and SR-10 need attention.
Hinkins said SR-10 is high impact from the coal trucks. All of the roads need attention. The Moore road is just waiting for asphalt. He thinks by being in the majority party in the legislature he can steer more funds towards roads in Emery County.
Sitterud said they can't get the oil right now to pave the Moore Road, but it is on next year's STIP list with UDOT. "The elk are deadly on SR-6. Most of the money for the wildlife crossings came from private monies and the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife group. We do need help with SR-10," said Sitterud.
Pitchforth said her concern with US-6 becoming four lanes is that people just go faster. "We need to work together, pay attention and just slow down and make it safe. SR-10 is scary too," said Pitchforth.
Dew said that highway safety is important and he applauds the state for the work they have done. Utah has freezing nights and thaws during the day which is the worst thing for highways. Many of the states highways need repair work.
Dew also answered a question about energy. He said we should drill in AWNR and he supported the expiration of the moritorium on oil shale development. This development should be regulated on a state by state basis.
The question was asked on the biggest challenge faced by the school district.
Ware said problems with old buildings exist and most buildings need a rejuvenation and a remodel and some money needs to be pumped into infrastructure.
McCandless said maintenance on old buildings is a problem. Children must be prepared to work. Early intervention and emphasis on vocational education should be stressed.
Dugmore said she feels the biggest problem is the declining enrollment. An improved economy would bring more jobs and more funding to the schools. Students should be allowed opportunities earlier in their education process.
Johansen said she views declining enrollment as a problem as well as the burden of testing in the schools. The school districts should be allowed to choose where the money should be spent without so many mandates from the government.
Singleton said when he was the principal at San Rafael there were 500 students, now there are 270. It's hard to maintain the same programs with such a drop in students. Even with declines in student population in the No Child Left Behind program, Emery County has not had one school on program improvement. "We have an award winning auto mechanics program and a great house building program," said Singleton.
Sitterud was asked what two goals he wants to accomplish in economic development for the county. He said the development of the industrial park in Green River and the resolution of RS-2477 road access in the county. Currently the county has seven roads going through the court system.
Pitchforth said one of her goals is to focus on the businesses we already have and make them stronger and this will help bring other businesses in. She would also like to see a Chamber of Commerce be brought back into existence to form a strong core for area businesses to rely upon.
The state senate candidates were asked how they felt about school vouchers. King said he voted against vouchers for five years and this past year they passed by one vote and were then defeated on the ballot by voters. Ninety percent of students are educated in public schools. It's the legislatures responsibility to provide funding.
Hinkins said he would like to see more decisions in goverment be made at the local levels.
Springmeyer said he would veto vouchers and every other bill that tries to micromanage. He was also asked what he would do for Emery County if elected? He said he would hold meetings twice each year in the county and he would regularly visit the county.
Sitterud said the people of Emery County have a great work ethic. Government doesn't belong in private business. Private business is what makes the country strong.
Pitchforth said she thinks Emery County is a gold mine with its tourism, economic development and recreation. They can all work together to bring in new jobs. The strength of the county is the people. Emery County has great vistas and so much to offer.
Dew said he would work to get back the lands that Bill Clinton gave away in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. He said he would work to build clean burning coal plants.
The candidates were asked how they stood on the Utah State and CEU merger.
Pitchforth said she thinks CEU is a great school and it isn't embraced as much as it should be. She is excited about the expansion and hopes it goes through. "We need to embrace our college and support them more," said Pitchforth.
Ware said there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the merger that need answers.
Singleton said he has a concern about what would happen to the vocational programs if the merger comes about and what about all the scholarships that CEU gives, especially to local students.
McCandless said it is a complicated issue and his biggest concern is Utah State says Vo-Ag is not their mission. "An appropriate partnership with Utah State could keep students in the community as they complete their degrees," said McCandless.
Johansen said she has concerns with the concurrent enrollment classes that many Emery students take. She also has concerns with how a merger could affect tuition costs. She believes strongly we need vocational training and any cutbacks in that area could be detrimental to our students.
Sitterud said the Utah State mission statement doesn't fit. Like with nursing, for every one student accepted into the program then two students are turned away. Expansions of these programs would be a benefit.
King said more answers are needed before a decision can be made. When CEU left Moab the tuition there doubled. He would hate to see CEU play second fiddle to the Logan campus. "We need more partnerships, but as of now, I am opposed to the merger," said King.
Dugmore said she is a graduate of CEU and Utah State and was able to take her classes locally. She has mixed feelings about a merger, but would like to see the opportunity for more four year programs in our area.
Springmeyer said he believes in low taxes and keeping the decision close to the locals involved.
Hinkins said CEU just doesn't have the number of students it needs to keep the trades there. If it was up to him he quipped he would merge with the UofU.
The meeting was opened to any questions from the audience they felt still needed to be asked. Sherril Ward asked how the candidates felt about coal energy. Springmeyer said he is in favor of coal. He thinks more work needs to be done on coal sequestration.
Dew said he is a friend of coal and would push for legislation that allows for coal fired power plants.