With only one seat available, political hopefuls for the final District 28 senatorial and District 72 representative seats are vying for votes as their June 24 election day draws near. To help voters make an educated decision, Southern Utah University’s Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service will host an Iron County debate on Thursday, June 5.
The event will run as a traditional debate, beginning with opening statements by candidates then followed by questions from the Leavitt Center. Time permitting, written audience questions will be allowed. All topics, state-wide and local, are on the table.
In addition to gaining insight on topics of primary audience interest, those in attendance may interface directly with the candidates, with time before and after each debate to speak personally with candidates.
The June 5 debate is one of the final opportunities for voters to hear directly from the candidates. The Utah Representative District 72 debate will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Ballroom at SUU. The Senate District 28 debate will follow, in the same location, at 7:30 p.m.
Representative candidates include incumbent, Representative John Westwood, and challenger, Blake Cozzens. Senatorial runners include incumbent, Senator Evan Vickers, and challenger, Casey Anderson. All four candidates will be in attendance.
“It truly does behoove community members, as well as SUU students, to attend this debate so they can vote intelligently and recognize the issues that live in this community,” stated Eric Kirby, executive director of SUU’s Leavitt Center, a regional hub for political education and engagement.
More than 300 people attended the last debate the Leavitt Center hosted. According to Kirby, there is growing interest in such events from voters across the region. Thursday’s debate is open to all; come early to find a seat and to submit your questions.
Senatorial and representative candidates have submitted the following statements in advance of next week’s debate.
John Westwood (Utah Representative District 72): Having served one term in the House of Representatives, on the Cedar City Council for nine years and the Planning Committee for 10 years, I have a strong support for education and economic development proven by gaining funding of more than $2 million for the Utah Shakespeare Festival and $19.3 million for the Southwest Applied Technology College. I have worked for State Bank for 38 years managing budgets and experiencing economic cycles. Support Utah's definition of marriage. Support SUU and this community.
Blake Cozzens (Utah Representative District 72) — Born and raised in Iron County, I want to do everything I can to ensure we succeed. In order for our people, economy and businesses to succeed, I believe it’s crucial that our government be limited. In speaking with many of you I recognize our commitment to freedom. I commit to be a consistent vote for limited government and will work to restore the caucus system and repeal regulations that harm small businesses. I ask for your vote, and welcome the opportunity to talk with you.
Evan Vickers (Senate District 28) — It has been a privilege and honor to serve in the Utah State Senate the past two years. I pledge to continue to use my experience in small business and rural issues to represent you in the best possible way. I am a firm supporter of the 2nd amendment, states rights and local control.
Casey Anderson (Senate District 28) — For five weeks, respected members of the community who were elected by a majority of their neighbors, dedicated hours to researching the candidates. They overwhelmingly supported my campaign because of my experience, dedication, and passion to serving the people of southern Utah and I'm humbled to have received their support.
The Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service is a hub for leadership opportunities, citizenship education, public and humanitarian service, and public policy research. The Leavitt Center is a non-partisan, interdisciplinary organization dedicated to preparing students to serve as responsible and educated leaders in a democratic society.