Chairman Billings: GOP offers hope; Chair Engelman: tomorrow guaranteed

ST. GEORGE – As the presidential election results descended like a disappointing cloud upon Republicans in Washington County last night, Washington County Republican Party Chairman, Willie Billings, spoke his perspective and encouragement for the GOP in Utah and Southern Utah in an interview with St. George News. He called his local party a “beacon of hope” and also rebutted those who argue that Republicans and Democrats are more the same than different.

Willie Billings, Washington County Republican Party chairman, Election 2012
Washington County Republican Party Chairman Willie Billings, words of encouragement and observation, Election Night Party at The Village Bank, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

Listen to the full audio of Billings’ statement:


Recapping in part, Billings spoke with some regret and pride combined:

“So far, there’s obviously – on the national level with the presidential race – we’re a little bit discouraged on what happened,” Billings said. “Certainly we all believed that the spirit of the Republican Party and with the state of our economy, that the masses of the country would speak out and that we’d elect Gov. Romney as president.”

But we can’t always get what we want on the national basis, Billings said, and therefore turned his attention to state and county levels.

“My job as the chairman,” Billings said, “and my goal, was to make sure that Washington County maintained its Republican roots and Republican stronghold and not give up any ground to the Democrats, and we have not.”

Billings said that over the coming years, he expects the rest of the states will look to Utah and Washington County as a beacon of hope for what the country should be.

During this election cycle, Billings said he came to understand differences between Republican and Democrat values.

“Republicans,” he said, “truly believe that people are genuinely good and will generally make the right decisions and do good and help each other.  And so we believe that we need to take care of ourselves, we need to take care of our neighbors, our friends, our communities, and help people helping people.”

But Democrats, he said, believe that people are not good and that people will eventually make the bad mistakes and can’t take care of themselves, and they look to government to step in.

“And there’s a big opposite right there,” Billings said. He said that the message he keeps hearing from Democrats on all levels is Democratic Party, Republican Party, we’re basically the same, we believe all the same things. Billings said to an extent we’re all patriots, we all love our country, but clarified that we have very differing views of our citizens, our citizenship and our belief systems, of how we treat each other and how we should be governed. Examples he gave were the Republican’s respect for sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage.

Washington County Democratic Party, Election Night Party at Best Western Abbey Inn, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2012 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

On the other side of the aisle, disappointment handed the Democratic Party locally last night was offset by their delight in the national results.

“I think it was the exact right thing to do,” House District 74 candidate Lee Ann Riddoch said. “I’m very happy.”

Tomorrow is guaranteed, Dorothy Engleman, Chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, said, announcing to her party that the state Democratic Party has contributed funding to keep the local office operating for another year.

Anyone who has met Engelman likely perceives, she is not one to go away, she has a plan for her party and intends to continue promoting it.

Engelman’s plans for the future involve getting more Democrats involved in local nonpartisan races like city council and school board races. She said that involvement in nonpartisan positions can serve as a “training ground” opportunity for Democrats who want to get governmental experience in a nonpartisan way; that it is a natural stepping stone to higher elected office, to running partisan races down the line – that it will help them build a foundation and “establish a record to stand on.”

The hard-fought election may be done, and conflicting emotions from gladness to grief will continue to emerge along with some relief that this battle is decided.  But it is clear, the battle and the division of ideologies on matters of government and society are far from over.

St. George News reporters Mori Kessler and Chris Caldwell contributed to this article.
Ed. Note: Error correction made per clarification of Engelman in comment thread to this story: The paragraph pertaining to nonpartisan races providing a “training ground” opportunity has been revised, striking the statement that Brent Holloway’s campaign served as the “training ground.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

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

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  • James & Annettie Cannavale November 7, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Kudos to Chair Engleman on her persistence and dedication. We’ll be here tomorrow with you.

  • ken November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Please everyone who isn’t a Republican is evil and should leave this country now! Your not Christian if you voted for Obama! The US is over as a country since Obama was relected. Only Republicans should have the right to vote. The media is only for the liberals. Obama caused 16 trillion in debt and you idiots reelected him. Glad we have two right wing papers in this town because thats the way it should be.

    I could go on and on from the junk I have read on comments today. This country is in trouble from the two party system that is full of corruption. Neither party cares about the US or it’s citizens they only care about controlling the people and the money!

  • Karen November 7, 2012 at 11:22 am

    As long as we have people like Washington County Republican Party Chairman, Willie Billings, the divisiveness will continue. For him to say that “Democrats believe people are not good” and will “look to government to help them when they make mistakes” is just a repeat of the 47% remarks Romney made.

    I think that view is misguided and I feel sorry for people like that who are so out of touch with reality. We are all Americans. There is more that unites us than divides us.

  • Brett November 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people read one story with one political stance on here and judge the “paper” to espouse solely that viewpoint (Yes, I mean you ken.) Please read the balance of stories on here before you point fingers. The regular opinion columnists are pretty polarized themselves but at least there’s a balance between sides.

    Also, before you go off on St George and it’s “mindless” conservative populace, why don’t you look at the other 20,000 cities in the United States and you will see that there’s probably a good number of them with an overwhelmingly “mindless” liberal majority. Now…if nothing is holding you back, and you’d feel more comfortable in that environment, well… you’re smart enough to figure out the rest.

  • Damie November 7, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Because of the staggering corruption problem in Utah, we will never be a shining beacon of anything but self told fables if we don’t do some serious self examination and housecleaning,

  • ken November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Brett if you had a clue you might be dangerous. Sorry that you can’t handle that others have an opinion different from yours. Since your comprehension lacks i’ll spell it out for you, I think both parties are horrible and are ruining this country. I used the rights comments because they are whining the most but the left has their fill also. Brett since your smart enough figure it out!

    • Brett November 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Wow Ken,

      It’s amazing that you completely described your own position and than placed it on me. While I agree that both political parties are useless, it’s the kind of ranting polarization that you were promoting that is the reason a moderate can’t get elected to office in this country! But again, if you are more comfortable in a like-minded society, you can certainly join it instead of spewing hate comments here. Good day! If I am clueless on your meaning, perhaps you’d do better to clarify in the first place.

  • Dorothy Engelman November 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I take exception to several statements in Mr. Billing’s audio release; I have previously commented on the text elsewhere on this site.

    Mr. Billings paints the Democratic party with a very broad brush as he insinuates that ALL Democrats believe the same thing. One of the strengths of the party is that various ideas and beliefs are encouraged and accepted because they lead to dialogue and better solutions to economic and social issues. We do not march in lockstep with each other.

    To say that Democrats favor abortion for women when a pregnancy is “inconvenient” is absurd. No one encourages a woman to have an abortion. The Democratic party believes, much as do Libertarians, that a woman’s body is hers, not society’s, and that she alone is in control of what happens with it! What happened to the Republican view on freedom from governmental control? Doesn’t it apply to this issue or to marriage equality?

    For Mr. Billings to equate people who favor a woman’s right to her own choices and those who believe that everyone should have the right to marry the person they love with being immoral and a threat to society is very difficult for me to comprehend.

    I have appeared with Mr. Billings on several occasions and he is always polite and courteous; it is challenging to understand his thought processes however. When I mention that there are similarities between the two parties, it is always in reference to finding a starting point for a discussion to move in a forward direction of greater good, not to say there is no difference and that each is milk toast.

    The reference to “values” and that the Republicans believes they have a monopoly on values, is also disconcerting. Democrats value families, helping others, taking care of ourselves, and all those things he said Republicans value…and Democrats wave flags with the best of them!

    This statement needs to be corrected, “She said that Holloway’s race will serve as a “training ground” for Democrats who want to run partisan races down the line, that it will help them build a foundation and “establish a record to stand on.”

    I was not referring to Holloway’s race for HD62 as a training ground, but as involvement in non-partisan positions as an opportunity to get governmental experience in a non-partisan way; that is a natural stepping stone to higher elected office.

    It’s good that there are differences as this can lead to healthy, balanced discussions with the intent of solving common societal challenges. One way progress is made is through problem solving and determination. The Washington County Democratic party offers examples of both and I encourage folks who would like to become involved to visit for more information.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic November 7, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you for the clarification, Dorothy – I will most respectfully revise as requested.

  • Renate Riggs November 8, 2012 at 7:36 am

    I resent the assumption that people’s character can be judged by party affiliation.

  • Gary November 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Yes, Mr. Billings…the rest of the country can look to Utah and Washington county and become a nation where people listen to the poll worker tell them they can just press one button and vote a straight Republican ticket ! Then we can ALL mindlessly continue to elect officials who make it illegal to film farm animals, which allows big farms to possibly violate health codes or treat animals inhumanely, fail to improve home energy efficiency standards costing new homeowners $200 a year, pass bills that make government LESS transparent, give highway contracts to the not-so -lowest bidder and pay additional payments because they screwed up, costing taxpayers even more, attempt to eliminate sex education from schools, even though if you wanted to have your kid “opt out”, you could, wasting taxpayers money on suing the federal government when they have been advised they will fail in getting the federal lands “back” from the government, fail to have a severance tax on coal because coal companies are big corportate sponsors of our Republican so-called representatives of the people, and finally….we can continue to be LAST in the nation in spending per-pupil…but only by about a thousand dollars or so. YES ! Let’s All Be Republicans so the nation can have it just as good as things are in Utah ! The 50’s called Mr. Billings….they want you back.

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