House District 71 candidates Kehl, Sevy and Last on public lands, pipeline, war on drugs

HURRICANE – The Utah House of Representatives District 71 election race, one of four in Washington County, presents three candidates with a passion for public service and improving local legislature.

The candidates for District 71 are Democrat Billy Kehl, Republican incumbent Brad Last and Paul Sevy of the Constitution Party. St. George News contacted all three to gather their opinions on the Public Lands Transfer Act, which derived from House Bill 148 during the 2012 General Session, the proposed Lake Powell pipeline, and why each believes they will be an effective leader for the people of Southern Utah.

House District 71 candidate Billy Kehl, Hurricane, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Billy Kehl

Billy Kehl

Kehl enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1997 and served for five years before returning to his native Utah. He then joined the police academy and worked for the Utah Division of Adult Probation and Parole in Ogden after graduation. Kehl moved to Southern Utah in 2009 and now serves on the Washington County Area Drug Task Force.

A single father, Kehl lives in Hurricane with his five-year-old son, who he said is his biggest supporter and his inspiration for running for office.

Kehl’s three campaign goals are creating safer streets and communities, equality for all Utahns and openness in government.

Question: Why do you believe you would be an effective leader for District 71?

Answer: Kehl said that his whole life has been dedicated to serving his country, and his political endeavors are no different.

“My drive and my passion to serve the public will make me an effective leader,” he said.

Question: What is your stance on HB 148 and the proposed Lake Powell pipeline?

Answer: If the state does regain control of public lands, Kehl is concerned about the financial burden that would be placed on Utah’s taxpayers. He said that with federal funds no longer available, one wildfire could drain the budget.

“We don’t have the money to mange them,” he said.

Kehl also opposes the pipeline due to budgetary concerns. He said that all surveys on the project cost were conducted from 2006 to 2008, at the height of economic growth; their figures are now inaccurate due to the ongoing recession.

“Iron County has already (refused) because of the expense,” he said. “It will be the Washington County residents who are hit the hardest if the pipeline goes in.”

Furthermore, Kehl said that an additional water source for the area is not yet necessary. “Experts have said that we have enough water left until 2060 if we learn how to conserve,” he said. “It’s not needed.”

Question: What other issue(s) are you focusing on in your campaign?

Answer: Kehl is on the front line of the war on drugs and crime in Southern Utah. If he is elected, he said that he will work with the legislature to create more preventative measures to keep drugs out of the area and develop tools to fight drug-related crime more effectively.

“The reality is that Washington and Iron counties are getting flooded with drugs and if we don’t stop it now, we will be overrun,” he said.

House District 71 candidate Paul Sevy, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Paul Sevy

Paul Sevy

After being laid off from his job due to economic reasons, Sevy opened his own business, an automotive repair shop, in 2012. He also hired two Virgin residents who were out of work. According to his campaign website, “Sitting around waiting for someone else to change things for the better is not how America became great.”

An Army veteran, Sevy is a leading officer in District 7 of the Utah American Legion and is active in assisting the community’s veterans and those currently serving in the military. He lives on the outskirts of Virgin with his wife, Karen Ann Ballard, with whom he has six children and five grandchildren.

His campaign principles mirror those of the Constitution Party: Limited, local government and individual independence.

“I feel that Utah can decide what is best for Utah,” he said.

Question: Why do you believe you would be an effective leader for District 71?

Answer: As both a local resident and business owner, Sevy said that he is committed to his hometown and its people.

“I will represent District 71 as a (citizen) of District 71, with no special interest for any group at the expense of another,” he said.

Question: What is your stance on HB 148 and the proposed Lake Powell pipeline?

Answer: Sevy said that he supports HB 148, but believes that it will be found unconstitutional and vetoed.

Sevy is concerned with the expense of the pipeline, and does not support the current proposal. “(It) may create more of a burden than a benefit,” he said. “The taxpayers may be saddled with a long-term debt (that they cannot repay.)”

Question: What other issue(s) are you focusing on in your campaign?

Answer: No response given.

House District 71 candidate Brad Last, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Project Vote Smart

Brad Last

A five-term incumbent, Last was elected to District 71 in 2002. During his time in the legislature, he has served on the Business and Labor Interim Committee, the Economic Development Task Force, the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee and the Transportation Interim Committee, among others.

Last was a member of the Washington County Board of Education from 1994 to 2002. Previously the owner of Home Health Care and Hospice, he now works for Dixie State College of Utah as a senior development officer. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Business Administration from Utah State University and lives in Hurricane with his wife, Jan.

As this article goes to publication, Last has not yet responded to the invitation of St. George News to be interviewed.

For additional information on all candidates, visit their official campaign websites.

Billy Kehl  /  Paul Sevy  /  Brad Last

Map showing the four House districts in Washington County

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • Realistic One November 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Regarding this war on drugs: “Before we get serious about reducing the harms associated with drugs, we have to accept that there will never be a drug-free society.
    To Create a drug-free society, we’d have to build a police apparatus so intrusive that all Americans would have to be under surveilance 24 hours a day…presumably for their own good.
    Would citizens of “the land of the free” ever stand for that?”

    The Powell Pipeline: The whole idea of this costly proposal in the present day and even years down the road is simply outrageous. Washington County (particularly urban parts) are among the top water wasters not only regionally, but nationally – and to make us citizens look even worse and less-qualifying if you will, we’re in the Mojave Desert!
    Growth has slowed tremendously since the 2007-based forecasts. Stricter water times need to be enforced… i.e. residents east of Main Street water certain days/times, residents west of Main water certain days, you get the idea, and yes, as an offical metropolitan area, we’re big enough to implement such regulations. If residents are breaking that cycle, fines can be imposed.
    Put a cap on the amount of lawns and other greenery able to be used in newer subdivisions. While it has improved slightly over older subdivisions, by using more rock and drought-tolerant plants/trees, we can still do better. Look to neighboring Mesquite or Vegas for examples. I’m not saying we should be exactly like them – (all rock with little trees creating major heat islands), but we can be more similar for sure, given the fact we all live in the same dry desert climate.

  • Floyd November 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Khel says “Washington/Iron Counties are being flooded with drugs, if we don’t put a stop to it now, we will be overrun.” Sir Khel, Washington County, especially with all its growth, HAS been overrun for quite sometime. Unfortanetely a lot of drug activity/crime had a rep of being swept under the rug by local government in fear that the area would lose it’s pretty, innocent low-crime image for both people seeking to move to the area and the tourism industry. Fortanetely though, we’ve grown, thus gaining more media outlets like this one, as well as more overall street-smart public awareness of a really quite large drug problem in our neighborhoods. This is definetly not the St George it once was, but I have to agree with the quote above by Realistic One. There’s only so much an agency can do, the so-called war will never cease, hence why I and many others are for legalizing or along the lines of something has got to give.

  • James July 23, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    the “War On Drugs” is unconstitutional, the government (federal, state AND local) has no right to dictate personal habits. we need a Libertarian candidate

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