CCCC Hosts Meet the Primary Candidates Luncheon


This month’s Carbon County Chamber of Commerce (CCCC) luncheon doubled as a Meet the Primary Candidates luncheon. Each candidate was given a five-minute allotment to make a statement to attendees to explain their reason for running and what makes them a good candidate.

Taren Powell, CCCC President, explained to the candidates that a five-minute timer would be set and once their time was up they would only have a few seconds to wrap it up.

Carbon County Assessor Gillan Bishop, running once again for the seat, was the first candidate to take the podium. Bishop advised that he wanted to be sure that he was able to craft a direct message to the many business owners in attendance.

Bishop informed attendees that in previous years, including this year, the county has had the assistance of an outside company in assessing the valuation of commercial properties. Bishop stated that the issue this year was that the county didn’t receive those valuations until two days prior to close. Bishop advised that during this analysis it showed that, for the previous year, Carbon County businesses were valued at $430 million and this year they had them valued a little over $1 billion.

Bishop stated that he pushed back on every single commercial parcel that he felt hadn’t been assessed correctly. Bishop said that because of this push back, he was able to get a revised set of numbers within just a couple of days. The revised numbers that they received showed a new assessed valuation of $525 million.

“I am invested in getting it right for you as a business,” expressed Bishop,

Bishop discussed his commitment to getting it right, mentioning the separate committees that he is a part of, as a way to come up with solutions. Bishop informed attendees that he is a part of two separate committees as a way to offer representation for Carbon County.

Amy Schmidt-Peters was next up to the podium, also running for Carbon County Assessor. Peters offered a bit of history about herself, mentioning that she was a coal miner’s daughter, born and raised in this area. Peters stated being a Republican man through and through, her Dad taught her the importance of small government, God and family, and she believes that that’s what Carbon County needs.

Peters advised that she decided to run due to the challenges that she feels the assessor’s office has been dealing with the last four years.

“I don’t mind challenges, I’m up for challenges. I think it’s a great learning experience. I like to learn new things and I like to provide good service to others, and that is the reason I am running for this office,” stated Peters.

Peters informed attendees that she has earned a Doctorate’s degree in Organization and Leadership and also has a strong financial background. Peters explained that she believes it’s necessary to have someone who can work with others in other county offices.

Peters informed attendees of her five goals if she were to be elected. Peters advised that her first goal is to ensure that all databases are accurate and kept accurate. Her second goal is to create a five-year plan for the office. Her third goal is to support the office staff in any way that they may need, whether that’s training and education, or to help them fulfill their goals. Her fourth goal is to make sure that there is a good working relationship with those in county offices. Peters stated that her last goal is to provide excellent customer service to business owners and the community.

Powell then welcomed that the candidates for the State House of Representatives District 67 candidates up to the podium next.

Tom Hansen, candidate for House District 67, began his speech joking that the microphone he was advised to use was for the camera being used to stream the luncheon, but didn’t actually make any sound.

“That kind of tells you how government works, we kind of make things up that really don’t matter,” joked Hansen.

Hansen spoke about being born and raised in Elmo. He informed attendees that he has been the republican chair in Emery County for a few years and is the Board President for Emery Telcom’s Board of Directors.

Hansen discussed the need for trade scholarships, to allow individuals the opportunity to learn trades.

Hansen advised that he wants to give the power and voice back to the Emery and Carbon counties. He discussed how whenever there is a local tragedy, Emery and Carbon counties are able to come together in a way that shows that this community has the ability to come up with its own solutions. Hansen stated he wants to give community the voice.

“My goal is to try and give the power back to you and eventually back to the people, because you guys are the source of the power of this county. You are the source that will create jobs,” stated Hansen.

Hansen expressed that he feels as though government should set the foundation and the infrastructures but ultimately feels as though government should get out of the way and allow business owners to create and build their businesses. Hansen spoke about how tough the entry points of business are and how hard it is to obtain funding for a new business.

“Let’s try and make that easier, but let you create your own business,” proclaimed Hansen.

Powell advised attendees that Representative Christine Watkins, who is also running for another term, was unable to make it, but Powell would be reading a speech provided to her.

Watkins speech began with an apology for being unable to attend the event and explained that she was currently attending a retreat for committee chairs. Watkins explained that during this retreat, they would be discussing the 2025 legislative session, but also the future of Utah.

Watkins letter went on to say she has “worked very hard to preserve our way of life and make it better,” while mentioning that she is the only local legislature who has given weekly updates via radio and newspaper.

Watkins advised that she is the house chair to three separate committees, including the Business Economic Development and Labor Appropriation committee, the Child Welfare Oversight Committee and the Native American Liaison Committee. Rep. Watkins is also a member of the Judicial Standing committee as well as the Natural Resources Standing committee.

Watkins mentioned that she has earned the respect and trust of the house leadership, which is not an easy task.

Rep. Watkins also mentioned in her letter that she was recently discussing the future of education with the very teachers that she had fought to get a raise, that her main concern is the lack of students, which she believes is becoming problematic.

Watkins advised that she believes its important to bring in more jobs to this area to increase the amount of families in the area.

“We are at a tipping point and I would like to keep serving to help ensure that we tip forward,” wrote Rep. Watkins.

Watkins went on to mention that she has worked extremely hard to keep the county’s coal mines and power plants open, and has a deep respect for the industry. She also mentioned her support for local farmers and ranchers due to agriculture making up 25% of Utah’s economy.

The representative also shared that two neighboring representatives will not be returning, so to replace her, she feels would be detrimental to rural legislative membership.

Watkins concluded her letter thanking those who have already voted and supported her and to those who plan to vote for her. Watkins again apologized for her inability to attend and advised that she is “continuing to work for our piece of the American Dream in Carbon County and Southeastern Utah.”

Powell then turned the time over the Jared Haddock, who is running for Carbon County Commissioner.

Haddock began with a little bit of information into his background. Haddock told a story about how he became to know about Price, as he’s originally from Grand Junction. Haddock spoke about the first time he saw the movie “SOLO”, based on an independent pilot who crashed near Grand Junction.

Haddock said he remembered all of the media coverage that was going on and how he remembered Price. being on national television, Haddock went on to express the massive amounts of people who were coming together for a single member of their community.

“I realized at that time, that this was a special place. I ended up coming to school here, found my sweetheart, who was a local and been here ever sense, about 25 years now. It’s been the best decision I’ve made,” expressed Haddock.

Haddock went on to discuss the support he has received in his own tragedies. Haddock discussed the many places across the world that he has traveled due to his business and stated he still feels that this is the best place in the world.

Haddock joked that he understands that county commissioner is not a popular position right now, but believes its important to unite with other commissioners in the state because the issues that Carbon County is seeing is not an isolated issue.

Haddock informed attendees that there was a shift in taxes from, 52% five years ago to now being 70.76%, which is a significant shift. He stated that he believes by coming together with other county commissioners, they can take this to the state as a whole.

Haddock discussed his dedication to providing a service to the community in whatever way he’s able to, before joking that he’s not above washing dishes or cleaning out garbage.

Haddock concluded his speech by thanking business owners for all that they do and saying he understands how scary and difficult not only opening a business can be, but to keep one open.

Max Jones, candidate for Carbon County Commissioner, was up next to the podium. Jones began his speech as many other candidates, with a little bit of back ground about himself. Jones informed attendees that not only was he born and raised in Carbon County, but he’s also a local business owner and homeowner.

Jones feels as though there are several issues that need to be addressed and changed going forward. He stated he feels as though there has been too much mis-spending and out of county trips, to name a couple of things. Jones stated that, as a business owner, he has watched the ups and downs that have gone on and he wants to fix those things.

“I want to do this for Carbon County, I want to be the voice for people, I want to be transparent and accountable,” stated Jones.

Jones talked about having an open-door policy and discussed that he feels as though getting straight answers from elected officials right now hasn’t been easy. Jones stated that when community members come to him, he wants to provide answers to concerns as well as to questions about the why’s behind certain decisions.

Jones stated that he wants to provide transparency and accountability when it comes to questions regarding taxes and property values, among other things.

“Carbon County, I want our kids to grow up, I want my kids to come back and be here and be safe,” expressed Jones.

Jones went on to express that he feels as though there is an opportunity to spend the money that the county has in other places that would prove to be more beneficial to Carbon County.

Jones feels as though with the money that the county has, Law Enforcement Officers, ambulance personal and other individuals in similar professions should be getting raises, while also mentioning the several other things that he believes the money should be put toward.

Jones concluded his speech by stating that his cell number and social media are open for any questions or concerns. He then issued a promise to get things done, if he is elected. Jones urged individuals to get out and vote and make their voice be heard.

Paul Riddle, candidate for Carbon County commissioner was not in attendance. Powell then gave candidates the opportunity to come up for a quick Q&A session.

House Representative candidate Tom Hansen, Carbon County Commissioner candidate Jared Haddock and Carbon County Assessor candidate Amy Schmidt-Peters all gathered at the front of the room for the Q&A.

The first question was directed towards Hansen, in which he was asked how he planned on being available for his role as representative while also working full-time as a teacher at Emery High.

Hansen explained that he is in his last year of teaching, as he is planning to retire this year. He stated that current legislation has a full-time job, but as he plans on retiring this year, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Hansen was hit with another question, this time in regards to Price City being given unfunded mandates every year. The questioner advised that each year the amounts increase and it causes issues with the city’s budget.

Hansen advised that in the last 10 years, the funding for the state has doubled. This means the money is there, but somehow towns and cities are being required to cover these unfunded state mandates. Hansen advised the issue comes down to rushing through legislation. Hansen said that there can be over 1500 pieces of legislation, with majority of them he feels are not well-written, and over 500 of them passed.

Hansen feels as though going through the legislation needs to be more thorough and, if a mandate is going to be passed, that the funding needs to also be there.

Hansen stated that legislation needs to be coming from the towns and cities up to the state, rather than from the state down to towns and cities. Hansen expressed that he feels as though the towns should be the ones telling the state what they need and not vise-versa.

The next question was in regards to the water issues that Carbon County seems to constantly be facing. The questioner stated that he has asked several times what is being done to increase Carbon County’s water or to obtain a new reservoir.

Haddock took to the mic first, explaining that there has currently been a reclamation project underway for the last few years, taking place near the Carbon County Golf Course.

Haddock went on to explain how neighboring counties have created multiple dams and reservoirs as a way to capture run-off and that’s how they’ve been able to solve that problem.

Hansen was the next to address the water concern. Hansen stated that it comes down to cost and that it cost over 100 million dollars to create a dam. Then there are water rights and elevation issues. Hansen explained that the biggest issues that Carbon and Emery counties have is that by the time they reach the necessary elevation, it is out of county lines.

Hansen feels as though a water project would need to be state-driven whereas multiple county’s water shares would be involved.

Another solution Hansen believes would be beneficial would be to have a local representative on the Colorado River Compact who is able to advocate for Carbon and Emery counties.

Amanda McIntosh, Suicide Prevention Specialist for the Southeast Utah Health Department, was the last questioner up. McIntosh said that as of right now, all of the issues that the candidates have discussed are major issues at the county and state level. McIntosh wanted to discuss an issue that directly affects the individuals among the community.

McIntosh asked how the candidates plan on offering help and resources to help break down the stigma as well as the barriers that individuals face in the community so that everyone at every level is able to receive equal care, including those who are a part of the LGBTQ community.

Haddock was the first to address McIntosh’s concerns, stating he believes the best way he can be of service is by providing a voice. Haddock feels as though education and awareness are the biggest things.

Haddock believes it is important to break the stigma stating “how many of us here, if we broke a leg, would be embarrassed to go to the hospital and get that cast? Yet in mental health there’s still that stigma that is very strong.”

Hansen was the next one to address the question, stating the two biggest things are going to be information and resources. Hansen explained that two out of three of his sons are at high risk due to their professions alone. One son is Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) and the other is in the National Guard.

Hansen spoke about a time that his son in UHP had went through an incident where he was required to go undergo a pretty lengthy evaluation afterwards, which then led him to speaking with a counselor. Hansen discussed how relieved his son has felt due to having that resource available.

Hansen acknowledged how lonely today’s current society is due to technology and other things, and the fact that no one talks to their neighbors anymore.

Hansen expressed that government can’t fix the problem, the people in the room were going to be the ones to fix the situation. Hansen end his answer by commending Price City for putting together so many community events that allowed community members to come together.

Powell ended the luncheon thanking attendees for coming and thanking sponsors.

The CCCC will host the Meet the Candidates for the general election during their luncheon in November.

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