Friday, September 29, 2006

No Rallies on Main Street!!

So, on Tuesday when the big red republican bus showed up in Cedar City, Larry Daniel and I followed them around town, taunting them with our friendly "True Blue Dems" signs. It was really more of a campaign season stress reliever for Larry and me and also a chance for us to tease the boys on the big red bus just a little bit.

But more important, it was intended to be nothing but good, clean, fun. Really... I have nothing against republicans, and there are a few of them I really really like. A lot. For example, my parents are good republicans. My best friend from high school is a good republican. And many of my customers and associates, and people I go to church with ... they are all good republicans! I have deep respect and admiration for all of them.

I also think that Governor Huntsman is shaping up to be fantastic for Utah. I like his common sense approach to government. I also think the Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff knows how to do the right thing by Utah citizens.

So, when we showed up at State Bank of Southern Utah with our "America Needs Utah Blue" signs and "True Blue Dems Love Governor H." message, I found it odd when a man approached us and told us we weren't allowed to display our signs on Main Street.

Man: "You can't do this here."

Larry: "On Main Street? I'm not on private property. And this is America! It's called free speech."

Man: "Well, not with your cheap shots."

Larry and Em: "What cheap shots?" (pointing to our "True Blue Dems Love Gov H" sign)

Man: "You need to go somewhere else."

and he walked off. I don't think he even read the signs... because if he *had* read them, he probably would not have been so offended by our being there.

About 10 minutes later, we were greeted by none other than Utah's Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff. He told us that the bus trip was pretty boring until they started seeing our signs around. And he laughed out loud, because he got it... he understood that we were not out there to protest the republicans coming to town... well, maybe we were protesting them a little bit.. but more important, we wanted them to know that we're here, working hard, and willing to show up in places they thought were "safe." He told us to keep it up, to keep working hard, and thanked us for being active in the democratic party and Utah politics. Larry heard it too, so I have a witness: thats' exactly what he said.

During campaign season it is easy to get alllll riled up about what "the other guys" are doing. I pledge to lighten up and have a little more fun, to laugh when something is truly funny, and to not worry so much about what the boys on the big red bus are saying.

After all, the *greatest* thing about America is that we CAN! We can protest when we don't like something, we can speak out when we don't agree, and we are all blessed with a right to our own opinion and perspective. The fact that we are given free agency to choose what we want in government is a good thing... we can study, ponder, and pray about who to vote for (because in America, we CAN), we can petition our elected officials when we want change, and nobody .... not even the boys on the big red bus ... can keep us from doing that.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Red? But BYU is BLUE!

Today the big red republican bus blew into town.

Larry Daniel and I decided to give them a warm and hearty Iron County Democrats welcome:

Em's Mormon Assault Vehicle (and some republicans felt assaulted!!)

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff got a kick out of the Equality Utah reference.

THEIR message? Vote Red. Vote Republican. America Needs Utah.

Stops included the Iron County Courthouse (where they had breakfast on the lawn), the Enoch city offices, State Bank of Southern Utah, Southern Utah Univerity, and the Iron County School District Building.

I will be writing several posts about this experience over the next few days, but here are the highlights:

1. Mark Shurtleff greeting us with a big smile at the Iron County Courthouse, when he saw us drive by in the "DANIEL FOR UTAH" mobile.

2. The guy who old us we weren't allowed to organize a rally on Main Street and accused us of leveling cheap shots at the republicans (example of cheap shot: True Blue Dems love Gov H)

3. The signs we posted all over the place, just to make sure they knew we were there.

4. The College Republicans Rally at SUU and the gal who couldn't get LaVar to answer her question.

Imagine the big red blus blowing into town and seeing the sign on the left:

"Red? But BYU is Blue!"

Larry and I were just out having some good clean fun. Stay tuned for more fun.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Civility, Final Chapter

So today I had the great privilege of going to the Utah Capitol and spending my afternoon with the Senate Democrats. These men and women are the *nicest* group of people ever, and they have been incredible mentors throughout this process. I am grateful and humbled by their support.

We met with a few lobbyists, celebrated Ed Mayne's birthday, and got to know each other a little better. Patrice Arent and Karen Hale are both incredible women and I am sad to see them both retiring. I know they both have great things planned, but Utah government will not be the same without them.

While I was rushing around to different meetings, I was approached by none other than LaVar Christensen, who told me that he had read my blog "Civility, Part 2." He said that I needed to change my entry because I had misrepresented what he said about House Bill 407. However, how I reported it is exactly how I interpreted what I heard. Larry Daniel was with me in the hallway and he also told Mr. Christensen that he had *also* interpreted the comments the same way I did. For several minutes Rep. Christensen tried to explain what he *meant* and several times, he asked me to change my entry.

On the long drive home tonight, I mulled over what I should do. Because my blog is merely my attempt to record my campaign experience, and because I am writing things from my own perspective and understanding, I don't think I should have to change or retract anything.

I will say this, however... it is not fun to be misrepresented. If Mr. Christensen feels like I didn't report it *exactly* as he said it or meant it, then maybe he can understand how I felt last week when he went off on Utah Democrats. He tried very hard to misrepresent Utah Democrats, trying to paint us as something that we are not. I did take great offense to his comments because I a proud of who I am, I am proud of my Utah Heritage, and am proud to be a Utah Democrat. I am a mommy, a wife, a daughter, a business owner, a choir director, a friend, a customer, and a Utahn, through and through. I have the same beliefs and live by the same values and standards as many in my community. To misrepresent me as anything else is absolutely misleading and completely dishonest.

Also, given my recent experience with Senate Democrats, it is not fair to misrepresent what they have done for Utah families. For example, Patrice Arent, Democratic Senator from Salt Lake County, filed 12 bills and passed 11 of them in the 2006 session . I don't know how you get much more effective than that.

Later in the afternoon, while I was in the Democratic Senate Caucus meeting, Republican Senator Lyle Hillyard came in to present the financial report. When Senator Karen Hale introduced me to him, I reminded him that we had already met - nearly 20 years ago when I was at Utah State University and the President of the College Democrats. I told him that I had met him on campus at a "Meet the Candidates" event. He asked me if he was nice to me that day. I told him, yes, he was a complete gentleman. We all had a nice chat about Senator Hillyard's garden and apple tree, and he enjoyed Senator Mayne's birthday cake with us. No politics, just friendly chit chat. I really hope there is more where that came from.

Now I am back home and ready to get back on the campaign trail. There is so much to be done. Onward and upward!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Civility, Part 2

Just when I thought I knew how this campaign season would go, I found myself upside down and flabbergasted. Yesterday, I was invited to speak at the Iron County Board of Realtors luncheon, along with candidates for other offices and other political parties.

Among those who spoke were Representative Mike Noel (Kanab). His remarks were openly and blatantly partisan as if he were actually proud of it. He stood up and leveled a full blown attack on democracy.

Over, and over, and over again, Noel claimed that political parties are more important than people. His actual words were "You don't vote for a candidate, you vote for a political party." He actually said those words out loud.

That would have been shocking enough. But, then he went on further to say that real power lies within a political party, That's funny, I thought the power lies within the people, and that government was created for the people, not for the political parties. Also, he let a major cat out of the bag and admitted that "Petty Partisan Politics" are the order of the day, and claimed that people "have to vote for republicans because Utah Democrats won't get anything done in state government." He further claimed that the Utah Legislature will put petty partisan politics above the business of the people. I have many good Republican friends who I am sure would be shocked and appauled at these remarks, as am I. If the citizens of Utah vote for the status quo, they are voting for a legislature that has openly admitted that they will put partisan politics over the business of the people.

Just when I thought it could not get any worse, LaVar Christensen stood up. Mr. Christensen, who is running for Congress against Congressman Jim Matheson made the same pathetic and shocking statement that voters should never look at individual candidates, but instead should only vote for a political party.

He criticized Larry’s remarks about House Bill 407, legislation that we were able to pass by working with Democrats in the Utah legislature. He said that the Utah Senate would not have passed the legislation unanimously had any Democratic Senator brought it to the table. With all due respect, sir, you’re misrepresenting what happened. HB407 *did* pass unanimously in the senate, because House Democrats approached Republican Senate leadership to make it happen. And it did happen, even if it was sponsored by a Democrat and the brainchild of Iron County Democrats.

Larry Daniel (candidate for House District 72) and I both spoke about a need for change and balance in the legislature, and I highlighted my platform and ideas, and talked about the upcoming race, and that it needs to be “About People, Not Politics.” Over and over again, I told the audience that this race was not about a political party, but about a voice for their values. Even the candidates from the Constitution Party had comments that focused on the positive, and that highlighted what they would do for Utah.

Late yesterday afternoon, I called Congressman Matheson to let him know that he is off the hook, because apparently LaVar Christensen wants to be the Senator from Southern Utah instead of the Congressman for the 2nd Congressional District.

The two hitmen from the Utah Republican party, Mike Noel and LaVar Christensen, are playing politics as usual. They are forcing the debate away from issues and ideas, and making it a single-minded one party system, about mascots and fear. From what I could tell they had no message, and obviously don't want people to look at the people who are running for office , but instead align themselves with a party and call it "truth." From what I could tell, the best thing they could say about themselves was that they have an elephant on their campaign signs. Apparently, there is nothing more to them.

What I find even more puzzling is their absolute commitment to the ideal of “One Party Rule.” Not only is that dangerous, it goes against the fundamental concept of discourse, balance, and compromise inherent in the America system of government. Furthermore, it is a assault on LDS church teachings, which clearly and explicitly says that it endorses no candidates, platforms or parties, and that “principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties. While the church does not endorse political candidates, platforms or parties, members are urged to be full participants in political, governmental and community affairs.” (Letter from LDS Church, read at the pulpit in March, 2006)

Ladies and gentleman, what we have here is an introduction to how this campaign season is going to go. The Republicans have made their choice. It's not about people, it's about politics. The Wasatch Front Hitmen are going to swoop from the rafters to try to continually convince you that people don't matter.

Are we ready? Southern Utah has never had such a strong slate of Democratic candidates, both in Iron County and Washington County. It is important that we band together and get ready for the hate and lies that will come from the North. All of us are going to need some serious help to win, both financially and through manpower. It is the only way we will combat this Republican noise machine.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Civility First

I just read a great post by Lisa Johnson, who is running for the Utah Legislature in Draper. I have enjoyed Lisa's blog and her comments over the last several weeks. Lisa is a great Utahn and would make a *GREAT* representative in the Utah legislature.

I encourage everyone to read Lisa's entry, where she wrote about a campaign event where both Congressman Jim Matheson and Senator Orrin Hatch were present. And they were being *civil* to each other! Some observers were shocked that the Congressman and Senator were so kind to each other... but a campaign volunteer pointed out that civility is SO important, and being kind to each other is the right thing to do.

I am afraid that civility is a lost virtue in American politics. Sometimes we want to be so *RIGHT* about our political ideas that we forget how to get along with each other. And I can't speak for all politicians, but I don't think the problem is actually with the politicians, but with the political pundits and voices of opinion who write letters to the editor. These so-called-experts like to do all the defining of what the Democrats believe, or what the Republicans have to say, but aren't really down in the trenches doing the hard work at hand. That's just my opinion, by the way. :-)

Last night at stake choir practice, a faithful choir singer met me in the hallway as I made my way into the stake center chapel. She couldn't WAIT to tell me that she is a Democrat and is so excited to support me in my campaign. Her husband, however, is a staunch Republican - which I think would make for some pretty interesting dinner conversations! Her teenage daughters were also there, but call themselves republicans... and were bugged that I am running as a Democrat. One even went so far to say that she was "disappointed" to see my signs and literature at the Iron County Democrats booth. Whatever!! I chalked her comments up to "youth and inexperience."

Their mother and I had to remind these good young women (and they are GOOD young women) that it doesn't matter what political party someone belongs to... what is important is that we have good people on both sides of the political aisle, that we have good ideas to choose from, and that we just can't get caught up in the political infighting that exists everywhere we go. We can't even open a newspaper without one side or the other throwing out garbage about their opponents. We are so stuck on our "side" that we forget that we're just dealing with people and their ideas to solve society's problems.

I have always believed that everybody in America wants the same thing: Safety and security; good education for our children; freedom; affordable health care and housing; and the very best that life has to offer. We just happen to have differences of opinion on how we will achieve these things. Unfortunately, we have lost the art of listening and understanding what the other person is saying: sometimes, we are so convinced that our political point of view is the BEST point of view that we are unwilling to listen to anything else. And when people are so closely aligned with a political party, they sometimes refuse to stop and listen to what someone on the other side might have to say, even if they would be surprised to learn that they agree with the so-called opposition.

At the Iron County Fair, I watched in awe at fair goers who took the long route around the Iron County Democrats booth to avoid talking to us. Even when we asked people if they were registered to vote, they would yell across the lawn "Yes, but I am a registered republican" as if talking to a Democrat in front of everyone would somehow invalidate their membership in the Republican party. Another woman looked me straight in the eye and said "well, we love you anyway, even if you ARE a Democrat."

Come on people. Leave the polarizing to the political pundits. As citizens of Utah and of America, we owe it to each other to work together and put aside our differences of opinion. We can choose to solve the problems that we face, or we can just keep fighting about them. I say let's workwith each other... after all, we're all in this together!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Proposed Changes to Water Conservancy Districts

Water Conservancy Districts are given broad powers to implement their varied purposes. And, like most special districts in Utah, water conservancy districts can levy taxes. But they’re different from all other special districts (like school boards) because their board members are appointed by county commissioners, not elected by the voting public.

The appointment of conservancy boards raises all sorts of questions that might make for a lively discussion in some political-science classes. For example, should any non-elected body have the right to collect taxes? I say no, they should not.

Water use in Utah has changed as the state has evolved. In the early days, farming and ranching was a primary use for water. So, the majority of early water rights were for these uses. As the population of cities increased, more water rights were appropriated for municipal use. And now, as our cities continue to grow, Water Conservancy Districts are more important than ever, as they watch out for our water resources for current and future generations.

However, water conservancy and management is too important to the community to have a majority on the board just representing one or two special interests. Large private water holders (as most agricultural users are) on the water conservancy district boards often represent a financial conflict of interest. Additionally, the power of the county commissioners to continue to appoint the same people to water boards term after term may also be questioned as a conflict of interest, as some commissioners hold their seats for decades and their influence over who is selected to board positions may not always be in the best interest of everyone else.

Let’s Change the Law
To ensure that Water Conservancy Districts are working on behalf of the best interests of the citizens of our state, I propose that we make the process more democratic by changing Utah State Law so that Water Conservancy District board members are elected in non-partisan races, instead of being appointed. I also agree with a recent Spectrum Editorial Board opinion that Water Conservancy Board members should be subject to term limits.

Changing the way Water Board members are chosen would enable ordinary citizens to take part in the democratic process and provide opportunities for more people to be involved in important community decisions.

Some say that changing Utah code to allow for elected water board members would be difficult, and that doing so would affect too many water conservancy districts throughout the state of Utah. But I believe change is good. Without change, we are stuck with old antiquated laws that don't serve people and don't account for our growing and diverse communities. As Southwestern Utah continues to grow, it is important that we all work together - elected officials and constituents - to find common ground and equally beneficial solutions. When special boards are accountable only to county commissioners and other elected officials, it leaves the public out of the process and can lead to back room deals that only benefit a select few.

I believe in a representative democracy. When state goals are pursued through un-elected boards and commissions, government is less accountable to the people it is sworn to protect.