The final Meet the Candidates night, brought to the community by Castle Country Radio, Castleview Hospital and USU Eastern, was hosted once more in the Alumni Room at the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center on the college campus on Tuesday evening. The last installment featured Carbon County Commissioner/Surveyor hopefuls Melvin Coonrod, Tony Martines and John Jones.
Introductions began with Coonrod, who stated he is running primarily because he is concerned with the direction Carbon County has been going in.
Coonrod explained that he owns two successful businesses and has been in business for most of his life. “I believe that county government should be ran like a successful business,” Coonrod said.
Next, Tony Martines began by thanking the event’s sponsors and stated that he believes it is great that this year there are options for the voters. Martines is employed at BODEC, Inc. in sales and marketing and believes that through the job, he has been able to stay in touch with important elements of the county including coal mining, power and the like. Hearing about mine and plant closures led Martines to become more involved in politics.
Finally, Jones began by going into his political background. He served as county commissioner in the past for six and a half years. Jones was also president of the Utah Association of Counties and chaired the Western County Alliance, working on public lands issues. Jones stated that he believes that mistakes in the county continue to arise and it is difficult to spend from a checkbook that isn’t balanced.
“I believe I can bring a positive atmosphere back to Carbon County,” Jones stated.
The night then dove right into the community-submitted questions. One question, “With coal finally getting some help from Washington, what is your stance on coal in Carbon County?” Jones answered the question first, stating that he believes the county is going to find itself as a hub for coal more than mining. He explained that most “easy” coal has been mined, though there are mines that may still be opened. Jones concluded his answer by stating that keeping businesses such as Joy (Komatsu) open is pertinent.
Coonrod’s stance is that coal is not dead and has a great future. A lot of research is going into different ways to benefit from coal, Coonrod stated, and he believes the county could keep what is already available as well as expanding. Martines answered that he is for coal and has a great history around it. He stated that it is possible that the county has been wasting the precious coal on energy when it could be used in other ways.
“We are going to be more diversified and rely not only on coal but other things that are coming to Carbon County,” Martines stated.
Other questions posed to the candidates tackled topics such as the county healthcare benefits, a possible tax raise for the county budget and the county’s role with the Seventh District Court, chamber of commerce and tax commission.
Upon being asked, “Proposition 2: are you for or against it?” Martines promptly stated that he is against it simply because of the way that it is worded. The way the proposition is written, Martines does not want to see it get to the point where there are dispensaries in Utah. Martines explained that he understands where the proposition comes from and the need for medical use, but does not want to see recreational use.
Jones stated that he is not opposed to it and believes that medical marijuana should be treated just like opioids. He questioned why there would be a denial for it when it is needed. Jones compared marijuana use to those that abuse opioids and alcohol and stated that these decisions should be a medical opinion and use.
Coonrod expressed his agreement with Jones and stated he supports it. With personal history seeing his father deal with cancer, he does not feel as if the legislative bodies have the necessary expertise to dictate what medicine individuals should or should not take. After two hours of questioning, the night drew to its conclusion.
Each candidate gave a farewell remark, expressing their own personal views on why they would be the best elected for the position.