Kane County residents turned out in large numbers in person and online Wednesday, June 6 to hear candidates for Kane County Commission, Clerk/Auditor, and County Attorney speak at the Kane County Election Forum sponsored by the Kanab Area Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates answered a variety of questions on a range of topics that included public land use, economic development, growth issues, fiscal oversight and services the county provides residents.

Commission Seat A candidates are Andy Gant and Shawna Cox. Commission Seat B candidates are Brent Chamberlain, Jim Matson and Tyler Cornell. Clerk/Auditor candidates are Keiren Chatterley and Karla Johnson. Attorney candidates are Rob VanDyke and Van Mackelprang.

When asked, ‘What three specific industries would you like to bring to Kane County as part of economic development?’ Commission Seat A candidate Andy Gant answered: “My background is in technology, so that is one area. We have done some but we have a lot of opportunity in this area. There are things like the call center that we can pursue. We need diversity, we have a wonderful economy based in tourism, but we have to find some new angles. We have some room for small industry and we have some mining issues that could be developed. Just growing the current things that we have in place now will help.”

Shawna Cox, Commission Seat A candidate, was asked, ‘You were incarcerated briefly in 2016 after being involved in a protest in Oregon. Please address this incident and tell us if you think that this will affect the level of confidence that the citizens of Kane County will have in you if elected to be commissioner?’

Her reply was: “I think that it would strengthen my stand in Kane County because I was standing for the Constitution and that is what it was about. What the media puts out is never true. Do you believe everything you see? It was spun into an evil thing that it wasn’t and we proved that in court. We were acquitted both times. The truth is we have to stand for the Constitution and stand on our rights. Politicians need to stop treading on our rights. I went through seven trials and I learned all about the law. I have had my eyes opened and I have been teaching the people. That is one of the reasons that I am running for office is so that I can teach the people what our rights are. We have to get out of that communistic rule.”

Brent Chamberlain, Commission Seat B candidate, was asked, ‘You have an extensive background in the mining industry. We have coal mining to the north and Uranium mining to the south. Would you like to see more mining as part of an overall economic development plan?’

Chamberlain answered: “Mining brings high wages, high benefits and high tax revenue. However, we have to face reality, and that is coal is on its way out. Roughly 25% of coal power plants have shut down in the last five years. No one will go in and expand a coal mine unless there is a demand for the coal. I just don’t think that they are going to go in and open up new mines. Years ago it would have been great. There is a demand for Uranium, but it is a very fragile market, the price goes up and down a lot, and they have to justify the cost of opening these mines. I would love to see mining happen, but I just don’t think it will happen due to the demand of the market.”

Tyler Cornell, Commission Seat B candidate, was asked, ‘As an elected official communication is important. Tell us how will you keep an open line of communication between your office and your constituents?’

Cornell replied: “When I worked for the county one of the main concerns that I had was some of the grants that were given out weren’t accounted for. Communication is a big part of accountability. I would like to see a reporting of funds to know exactly where the funds are going. This is what I want to be involved in, knowing where the funds are and making people accountable.”

Jim Matson, Commission Seat B candidate, was asked, ‘Is there a plan to start a recycling program in Kane County? Why or why not?’

Matson answered: “There are no plans that I am aware of. There have been some attempts in the past. In terms of population and concentration in relations to the people, we would have to subsidize the process. We have a landfill that will eventually fill up, so we have to know how to deal with that. We need to put the economies of scale to work.”

Rob VanDyke, Attorney candidate, was asked, ‘What do you consider as your greatest success while serving as the Kane County Attorney?’

VanDyke said: “Honestly I think that my greatest success is having retained a fantastic group of employees. We have a great staff that works really hard and really efficiently to make sure that the cases are processed effectively and to make sure that the victims’ voices are heard. I am really proud of everything that we do. I am also proud of my budget. It is simply not true that my budget has increased over 300%. I think that the Kane County Drug Court is my biggest accomplishment. It took a herculean effort to implement. I brought together a cohort of people to become educated on the type of program it was. It is a nationally recognized program that is used to reduce recidivism. Six years ago we were effective at implementing the program in our community. We have expanded the participation from 15 to 20 participants each year. I am really proud of our efforts there.”

Van Mackelprang, candidate for Attorney, was asked, ‘What do you consider as your greatest success in your public service career?’ Mackelprang answered: “As Kanab City Attorney we were starting to get a lot of development happening in Kanab City so we needed to see that our zoning and land use ordinances were updated and were able to accommodate the growth that was taking place at that time. We spent a lot of time with the planning commission, building department and city council updating those ordinances so they were current. We went through and updated all city ordinances that needed to be updated, so that was an accomplishment.”

Karla Johnson, candidate for Clerk/Auditor, was asked, ‘Many people have been upset that you were paid for services you provided to a Special Service District in addition to your county wages. Going forward, would you make the same decision to work for payment for a SSD?’

Johnson responded: “That is a great question. The Special Service District is an independent district separate from the county and legally there is nothing that would stop me from doing that again. I think that it is important to understand that elected officials tend to have a specific skill set that is applied to small counties across the state. They are drawn in and asked to help in special situations. I am no longer the SSD clerk. I simply didn’t have time to keep up with it all. When you go and take a second job, like if I worked at the grocery store, I would expect to be paid for that work.”

Keiren Chatterley, candidate for Clerk/Auditor, was asked, ‘You were involved in uncovering the funds that were embezzled from the county by Georgia Baca. What was your role and what do you plan to do so this type of incident does not happen again?’

Chatterley answered: “I worked with the AG’s office. I separated all of the accounts. We had 21 bank accounts, but only four were on our ledger. When I first started, the justice court account was $25,000 overdrawn. Since then we have been working and all the county funds have been accounted for. The key is to know how many bank accounts you have and to look at them every month. It is very easy to not have any oversights when you are not looking at the accounts every month and the accounts are not on the ledger.”

Kanab Area Chamber of Commerce Officer Colette Cox said, “The Chamber presidency would like to thank all of the volunteers that helped make this event possible, especially Lisa Livingston for being our emcee and Kanab Middle School for allowing the use of the building. We were happy to facilitate this event so our Kane County voters could be better informed as they go to the polls.”

Primary voting is happening now through mail-in ballot, Election Day is June 26. June 19 is the last day to register to vote in the Primary Election. If you are registered as unaffiliated, you can change your affiliation to the Republican Party during early voting or on Election Day and vote the Republican Ballot. Voter registration can be completed online at vote.utah.gov or in person at the Kane County Clerk/Auditors office.