A Look At The Six Candidates Running For Utah's First Congressional District
After almost two decades of service, Rob Bishop is not running for reelection to Utah’s First Congressional District.
Six candidates are vying for the opportunity to replace Bishop as the representative for Utah’s First congressional district. On June 30th, both the Democratic and Republican parties will hold primary elections for this seat.
The two candidates on the Democratic ballot are Darren Parry and Jamie Cheek. Parry said he is determined to help rural communities in the state have broadband internet because it will support the educational needs of the youth in these areas.
“That is a must. If we’re going to start anywhere, that is a must, because that will give them access to higher education," he said.
A strong advocate for public lands, climate change, and the environment, Parry said his priorities changed once he saw how many Utahns lost jobs and access to healthcare during the pandemic. He wants to make affordable healthcare a priority in the state.
“We need to take care of our most vulnerable people, our marginalized communities, those people that work in the service industry that lost their job, lost access to healthcare, and now they’re struggling," he said.
Jamie Cheek is running against Parry in the Democratic party and shares his concern about increasing access to healthcare in the state. Additionally, Cheek said it is important for Utahns to be able to regain employment following all the pandemic induced layoffs. She would like to make the process easier for Utahns who live outside of the Wasatch front.
“I think the pandemic has shown us that we can do more teleworking, we can move more jobs off of the Wasatch Front out into our rural communities, where those incomes can be part of the local economy," Cheek said.
In the Republican primary, there are four candidates running, including Bob Stevenson, who said since the majority of Utah is made up of federal land, he plans to protect what the state already has.The majority of these public lands in the state are found in rural Utah.
“The fact we can’t control them unless we can convince the federal government to be a little more giving as far as that goes. I think the first thing I have to work towards, that is protecting the use of the lands that we presently have," he said.
Stevenson’s passion lies in strengthening the economy in Utah to continue to grow and provide jobs and resources
“We have to always be protecting the fact that we have jobs, we have controlled growth, so that economy stays strong," he said.
Kerry Gibson is another Republican candidate. He said he will help the state focus on how critical rural Utah is in food production and resources.
“We’ve kind of taken it for granted and at the end of the day we can do without a lot of things, but I don’t think we can live without our food," he said.
Gibson is a supporter of The Hill Air Force Base and is dedicated to becoming a part of the solution with the fiscal crisis
“We have to get control of this budget crisis. It’s not just a talking point anymore. It’s a reality," he said.
Republican candidate, Blake Moore, is also a supporter of Hill Air Force base. Additionally, he said he is concerned that young people living in rural Utah have adequate employment opportunities.
“At the crux of it is making sure that younger people in these rural communities don’t feel like they have to leave, rush to the Wasatch front to get a sustainable wage," Moore said.
He said he will work to help the spread of higher paying jobs reach communities in rural Utah. Another way he wants to strengthen the economy post pandemic is through addressing tourism.
“As part of our recovery plan, we encourage more Utahns to take staycations," he said.
Republican Katie Witt is also concerned about the state bouncing back from the pandemic and wants to focus on small businesses.
“I’m specifically concerned about small business owners, who, through no fault of their own, have been shut down," she said.
Witt is passionate about connecting communities in rural Utah to the resources they need to be financially comfortable and employed, while still living a rural lifestyle.
“They want to live near family, they want to be near recreational opportunities, and they want to have a quality of life that only rural communities can offer," she said.
The election this month will be conducted by mail. Ballots should be arriving soon and must be postmarked the day before the election.