Who will you choose? A question that must soon be answered, as the November 6 Election Day draws near. To help voters cast an informed vote, Southern Utah University’s Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service has hosted several debates over the 2012 election season on SUU’s campus, a series that will conclude with two final debates as October winds down, the first on Tuesday and the second on Wednesday.
First, on Tuesday, October 30, Congressional candidates Geoffrey Chesnut (D) and incumbent Evan Vickers (R) will go head-to-head in an open format debate for Utah’s District 28 Senate seat. With any topic open to discussion, those in attendance will be able to listen to the candidates’ views and have the opportunity to question either candidate on issues of importance.
The debate will begin at 6 p.m. in the Student Center’s Sterling Church Auditorium, where each candidate will begin with a short opening statement before the question-and-answer format debate.
This is the only formal public debate between the two candidates this election season.
To help voters gain a sense of the candidates’ respective perspectives, both were asked to submit a brief statement in anticipation of Tuesday’s debate at SUU:
Above all, I believe in finding common ground to achieve shared goals and devising common sense solutions that unite our community. I want all of our children have opportunity for an education that carries them toward their dreams. I want to preserve the beauty and majesty of our great state. I will be the voice of those who love the area and want to see it grow responsibly. As an alumnus of SUU, I believe it is critical to have voices in the state legislature who know of the desire to remain in this wonderful community and of the struggle that can be due to a lack in high paying employment. In my work as a local attorney, I see the impact of medical catastrophe, unemployment, failed business, lacking education and poor decisions. These circumstances have a great impact upon us all through loss of property values, increased costs for goods and overall despair in our small towns and regional communities. Our concerns are unique, and we need strong voices in the state legislature who are dedicated to the issues important to southern Utah, not just more votes for the power bloc in northern Utah. I will be that voice! Debates help ensure those we send to the legislature are accountable to those they represent. Mr. Vickers has agreed to just this one debate, and I look forward to Tuesday’s discussion and thank the Leavitt Center for hosting this important event.
Education is a big deal to me due to the fact that I am the first college graduate in my family. We are very fortunate to have two excellent schools of higher education in southern Utah with Dixie State College and SUU, giving students two excellent choices. They are also a big catalyst for economic development. I am product of the public school system in Beaver, and my kids have all gone through the public school system in Iron County and have then earned college degrees. I continue to hear from a number of sources that the school districts in Washington and Iron are the best in the state. I have worked hard to stay connected to the teachers and administrators in my House District the past four years while serving in the House of Representatives. I would love to say that I could give education all the money it needs, but as along as 70 percent of our state is in the control of federal government, we will always have a funding issue with education. Until that changes, we need to continue to be frugal, doing more with less. A lot of the funds that were appropriated last year went to technology and assessment, which are needed tools, but I would like to see more resources go to reducing classroom size. I am constantly looking for ways in the legislature to give local officials more power to act in a way that they think will most benefit the constituents they represent.
Following Tuesday’s debate, the last Utah Congressional debate will then be between John Westwood and Barry Short, both men vying for the Utah Congress seat in District 72. That debate will be held Wednesday, October 31, at noon in the Entertainment Bureau within the Sharwan Smith Student Center.