Republicans take elections, RAP tax passes, state results; STGNews Videocast

Republican Zachary D. Renstrom and sons at the Washington County Republican Party election night party. Renstrom prevailed for County Commission Seat A. Hampton Inn, St. George, Utah, Nov. 4, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties held post-election events at St. George venues Tuesday night while waiting for votes to be counted, Republicans at the Hampton Inn and Democrats at ‘Bout Time. Both parties were hoping for a large volume of voter turnout in the midterm election.

Incumbents and newcomers also voted in nonpartisan races, Washington County School Board and Proposition 3 – the Recreation Arts and Parks, or RAP, tax that passed with 51 percent of the vote.

Statewide, voters helped the GOP retain control of the state’s Congressional delegation. Voters also chose to keep the current Utah Attorney General another two years.

(story continues below)

Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

“We are hoping to do as well as we did in 2010 in voter turnout,” Washington County Republican Party Chairman Nick Lang said. “Voter turnout is so important.”

Republican party members gathered at the Hampton Inn to await the Washington County midterm elections results, St. George, Utah, November 4, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Republican party members gathered at the Hampton Inn to await the Washington County midterm elections results, St. George, Utah, November 4, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Results started coming in to the county website shortly after the polls closed, indicating that Republican candidates across the board took an early lead in every race.

There are 67,259 registered voters in the Washington County,  with 28,827 reportedly voting on Election Day. This represents a 42 percent voter turn out for the county, according to the Washington County Clerk’s Office.

By comparison, the 2010 midterm elections brought out 59 percent of the county’s registered voters.

House races

Republican Rep. Jon Stanard won House Seat 62 over Democratic challenger Shirley J. Nelson, taking nearly 81 percent of the votes.

Rep. Brad Last defeated his Democratic opponent, Kenneth Roderick Anderson with nearly 80 percent of the votes to keep House seat 71

Republicans V. Lowry Snow and Don Ipson won their positions in House Seats 74 and 75, at 76 and 66 percent respectively, defeating Democrats Dorothy A. Engelman and Cheryl Fae Hawker.

Also running to House 75 was Independent American Party candidate Nihla Judd who came in slightly above Hawker, and was the only third party candidate running for  the Legislature in Washington County.

County Commission Races

Republican party members gathered at the Hampton Inn to await the Washington County midterm elections results, St. George, Utah, November 4, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Republican party members gathered at the Hampton Inn to await the Washington County midterm elections results, St. George, Utah, November 4, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Republican Zachary D. Renstrom took an early lead over his Democratic opponent Chris White, getting 76 percent of the votes for County Commission Seat A, while Republican incumbent Victor Iverson acquired 74 percent of the votes against his opponent Democrat Paul Van Dam.

White conceded the race with no regrets, he said in an email, acknowledging many amazing experiences and new relationships he has formed and thanking those who supported him.

“There is good news,” White wrote, adding:

“I have gotten to know Zack Renstrom and believe he will engage the citizens. He represents a move in the right direction from our current leadership. I congratulate him on his victory and I look forward to the good that I believe he will offer Washington County and it’s citizens.”

Neither Renstrom nor Iverson had run for office before. Iverson was appointed to his position after Commissioner Denny Drake stepped down to go on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A positive experience

Candidates from both parties commented on the positive election process in Washington County, noting that opponents were polite and the voting public was friendly and inviting. One candidate who was canvassing door-to-door was even invited in for dinner.

“Everybody is really positive. In fact one family invited me in for dinner,” Renstrom said. “I sat down for family dinner and as they asked me questions, they fed me. It was great.”

Only the beginning

Dorothy Engelman, House Representative District 74 mingles with members of the Democratic party while waiting for election results, St. George, Utah, November 4, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Dorothy Engelman, House Representative District 74 mingles with members of the Democratic party while waiting for election results, St. George, Utah, November 4, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Democratic candidates Engelman and Hawker both stated this race was only the beginning for Democrats in Southern Utah. Though Engelman recently held the position as the county party’s chair, this was her first time running for political office.

This was also a first time for Hawker.  She stated she’s in for the long haul. She plans to run again in four years.

The Washington County Democratic Party had set a goal early on to have a candidate running in each of the state and local races. Though some county candidates ran unopposed, Engelman said she was very pleased with the results of that goal.

“One of the things that we are really going to work on is more precinct organization,” Engelman said. “It’s difficult when you don’t have those leadership positions in place.”

Despite White’s no-regrets concession, if there was one sticking point for him, it was the low voter turnout.

“I am sadden by low voter turn out and lack of public engagement,” White said. “Voters feel it a civic duty to vote but feel no moral obligation to become informed. Very few take the time to get to know the candidates or issues. Citizens hide behind straight party voting hoping to conceal their indolence.”

School Board races

Larene L. Cox beat opponent Brent Holloway with 55 percent of the vote for School Board 4.

David B. Stirland won 63 percent against Eileen McKell for School Board 5, while incumbent Kelly Blake defeated challenger Peato “Pat” L. Ena for School Board 6 with 82 percent of the vote.

Laura Hesson retained the School Board 7 seat against Scott P. Robison at 60 percent of the vote.

RAP tax

When the votes initially came in, the majority of them were against the RAP tax, but only by a thin margin of 51-to-49 percent. As the eventing continued and new votes were tallied, that number filled and largely remained steady by 11 p.m. when the official numbers for the county were announced.

In the end, the measure for the new tax passed with 14,346 votes for it and 13,702 votes against.

The RAP tax will take 1 cent off of every $10 spent in the county. Monies generated from the tax will go to the county and participating municipalities based on population and point-of-sale. The money will then be applied to various recreation, arts and parks projects. Nonprofit and other organizations related to those fields can also apply for grants from the RAP tax through the county or the cities in which they exist.

The tax is anticipated to generate $2.2 million annually, and will be in effect for 10 years.

State and congressional races

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was appointed to the position after John Swallow’s resignation in November 2013, was elected to serve the remaining two years of what would have been his predecessor’s original term in office.  Reyes defeated Democratic challenger Charles Stormont after getting 63 percent of the vote.

Former Attorneys General Swallow and Mark Shurtleff have been charged with felony criminal counts related to accusations of corruption. Reyes and other public officials have previously stated these accusations damaged the trust and credibility of the Utah Attorney General’s Office in the eyes of the public. As reported by Deseret News, Reyes sees his victory as a sign the public’s trust is coming back.

“I think it reflects the people’s trust that we’ve started to win back, and the hard work that we’ve put in,” Reyes said according to Deseret News.

Third party challengers for attorney general included Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough, Gregory G. Hansen of the Constitution Party, and Leslie D. Curtis of the Independent American Party.

On the congressional level, incumbent Republican Reps. Rob Bishop of District 1, Chris Stewart of District 2, and  Jason Chaffetz of District 3, were each re-elected. Republican congressional candidate Mia Love took District 4 after a close race against Democratic challenger Doug Owens.

Love replaces outgoing Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson who announced last year he wouldn’t seek re-election. Love’s election has been called historic as she will be the first black Republican woman in Congress. The race between Love and Owens was close, with Love eventually landing 50 percent of the vote to Owens’ 47 percent.

Stewart won against Democratic challenger Luz Robles. For a time, the race was rather close until Stewart came out ahead of Robles and won with 60 percent of the vote.

Third party candidates also involved in the 2nd Congressional District race included Shawn McCausland of the Constitution Party, Wayne L. Hill of the Independent American Party, and unaffiliated candidate Bill Barron.

Unofficial results of Tuesday’s election for Washington County votes only can be viewed here. Statewide results for state offices, all counties and districts can be found here.

Certified results will be available after the official canvas.

St. George News Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • Brian November 5, 2014 at 7:40 am

    I’m so disappointed in Washington County residents for passing the RAP tax… and any elected officials that supported or promoted it. Bummer. Congrats to Nihla Judd, though, 20% is really good for a third party candidate here, and she campaigned on principles, not politics. Some day we’ll have more than the two party system, which is just different sides of the same coin. You watch, now that the republicans control the house and senate they’ll just use the new power to stab us in the back, same as 2006. I’m not a replublicrat, I’m a conservative.

    • The Rest Of The Story November 5, 2014 at 8:34 am

      Yeah, that extra penny for every dollar you spend is going to push you right over the fiscal cliff into insolvency, isn’t it? Heaven forbid we should fund some things for kids and families to do here, besides go to church. The real solution is to do what George W. Bush did, and just spend the money without raising the revenue, then blame the deficit on the “Liberals”.

      • The Rest Of The Story November 5, 2014 at 8:34 am

        /Extra penny for every ten dollars

      • Burton November 5, 2014 at 10:22 am

        The problem isn’t the penny tax for every ten dollars spent. The reason I didn’t vote for the rec tax is because everybody county wide will get to pay for it, but just like everything else it will all be spent in or near st George. Not anywhere else in the county! Not on the east side where over 20,000 residents reside, not in Springdale or that area. Not anything to be going in near enterprise or new harmony. Just more crap in st George! How bout Washington county uses some of that new tax on confluence park? Or maybe something out near Dixie springs?

        • The Rest Of The Story November 5, 2014 at 11:26 am

          It will if you go down to City Hall and demand it. That’s a big part of the “representation” half of taxation with representation. You have to represent yourself, which means people need to get up off their duff and go down to City Hall once in a while. That is, if they can be bothered enough to tear themselves away from their TV, or the XBOX or the Computer or their dinner plate with supersized portions of food…

          • Burton November 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

            Well I just might do that, the problem is getting time off from my full time and part time job long enough to go demand the local government what freebies I want. You see while all the progressives are protesting and demanding government give them things all the conservatives are busting Thier backs to pay for it all. Maybe I could get my wife to take off from one of her jobs, or maybe we should just quit working all the time and saving money for retirement and just demand the goverment pay for us when we are old! You know how I want representation? Quit thinking of more ways to keep raising taxes for everybody!!!!!!!! But you seem to be smarter than the rest of us, why didn’t you run so you could represent us!!!??? Too busy on your ex~box there slick?

          • Burton November 5, 2014 at 7:47 pm

            Hey “rest of the story” we are waiting? How come you didn’t run for office so we could vote for you since you seem to have it all figured out?

        • linda November 5, 2014 at 10:57 pm

          The 85% of the rap tax will go to each city in Washington County and its unincorporated areas based upon a formula of where the tax was collected and population. The remaining 15% stays with the Washington county application procedure which is controlled by Utah State Law.

          • Burton November 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

            Thank you Linda for proving my point. The vast majority of the “county rap tax” will stay in st George city.

      • Brian November 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

        It has nothing to do with the money I personally will pay into it. Nothing at all. It has to do with the proper role of government.

      • Matthew Sevald November 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

        Money for entertainment and “culture” is not the proper role of government. This is why I voted against the RAP tax. The government should lower taxes and eliminate stuffy ordinances to encourage private industry to come in and develop culture and entertainment venues. Let the users fund it, not everyone.

      • makkie November 6, 2014 at 7:18 am

        You mean like the democrats and obama continue to blame everything on Bush even after obama has been in office for 6 years?

        • Simone November 6, 2014 at 8:05 am

          When was unemployment at almost 10%? When Bush was in office. During the majority of whose presidential term were we actively involved in not one but two wars? Bush. Under which president were we paying almost $5 a gallon for gas? Bush again. Do a little research outside of Fox News Makkie.

          • Brian November 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

            Question: “When was unemployment at almost 10%?” Answer: The last time we were using semi-honest numbers in the calculations. It’s easy to claim 6% unemployment when you don’t count the people that have given up looking for a job and are content to sit home and collect 99 WEEKS of unemployment or an infinite number of weeks of welfare. The amount of Americans in the labor force is down to 62.7%, the lowest since jimmy carter (who obama seems to be channeling). “6% unemployment” means absolutely nothing to people trying to find a job that can’t, or stuck working 2 jobs at 29 hours each because of obamacare. The economy is a joke right now, and obama and the democrats own it.

  • Koolaid November 5, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Republicans = More Taxes

    • Brian November 5, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Progressives = More Taxes. The reason is that progressives believe government is the solution to every problem, and that they know better than the us dumb little citizens. Unfortunately progressives abound in both parties.

  • Billy Madison November 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Yeah, thanks for raising our taxes again. I’m flush with lots of extra cash. If they really wanna raise money, why not put a Dance Tax in place? Maybe then the pressure to allow dancing would push the prudes into allowing an occasional dance for the teenagers.

  • Zonkerb November 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Yeah but dancing is still illegal in St George

  • Frank November 5, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Liberals=more welfare=more taxes
    How liberals get votes…….buy them with welfare………pay for by cutting the military

    • Koolaid November 5, 2014 at 10:22 am

      I bet you’d find more Republicans and Conservatives on welfare programs and collecting disability than Liberals.

      • Frank November 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

        I bet you will find liberals are by far the most racist. I bet that liberals drain our welfare system. I bet lots of soldiers are collecting benefits who are conservative because they are the ones who will actually fight for our country. I bet you will find more illegal immigrants on welfare, and getting free healthcare than conservatives by percentage. By illegal immigrant I mean from any foreign country so get that “Mexico” thought out of your head. I want state control of Utah and not a King George far away. I dislike liberals.

        • Koolaid November 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

          I bet you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • Chris November 5, 2014 at 11:03 am

      The military is the most wasteful part of government.

      • Frank November 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        You have obviously never been in the military. Go back under your rock.

      • Burton November 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

        Wasteful or not. The members of the US military keep you free son. Free to talk crap on them. God bless all our troops!!!!!!!

      • Zonkerb November 22, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Your a total waste oh yeah and an IDIOT

  • MrSmith November 5, 2014 at 9:39 am

    A penny here a penny there adds up. You already live in one of the most expensive places in Utah. When was the last time you went to the grocery store to buy groceries for your family and only spent $10. A better perspective, lets say you spend on average $200 a week on groceries. That’s $10 a year. But the tax is a sales tax so it applies to everything: gas, groceries, pizza, etc. They estimate 2.5 million dollars in the first year. There are roughly 60k registered voters do the math, that’s $50 per registered voter. $100 per family with a Mom and Dad. Let’s go ahead and tell families that are already struggling that they will have to pick a week this year that they will only be able to buy enough food to last 3 days. The other 4 days, well…, you’ve heard of fasting right. I hear people complain all the time about their property tax increasing $10 and yet it’s alright when we say it’s just a penny. You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still going to be a pig. Oh and speaking of how well they spend there “Recreation” budget, when was the last time you went to a little league game and sat through it wondering what the score is because the score board isn’t working? Sad things is that they have a budget for that.

    • Frank November 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

      It wouldn’t be so bad if mom and dad were responsible enough fiscally to only produce enough offspring that they could provide for. I bet you have 6 kids and also get your food orders.

      • MRSMITH November 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        I bet you borrow money from mommy and daddy to pay your bills. It would be nice if the entitled would realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Oh and I don’t have 6 kids and I live with in my means but get this… I actually think about others and the actions that I take which may affect them.

        • frank November 6, 2014 at 6:53 am

          You are stupid. My point was being able to pay your own bills. Your reading comprehension is a sentence long.

    • Herd November 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      But if you can afford a $20K RZR for your kids to go joy riding on, you can afford a few pennies here and there. Besides, fundraisers will provide for you.

    • linda November 5, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      The rap tax is levied on non-food items.

  • Just Peachy November 5, 2014 at 10:15 am

    “Why not put a dance tax in place?”
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh gosh, that’s funny 🙂
    Other states tax vices such as prostitution, gambling and smoking… Why not put a tax on the amoral practice of dancing?

    • Herd November 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Maybe that’s how the city council is considering how they’ll modify the Dance Ordinance. Just add a tax and application fee.

  • Visiting Anthropologist November 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Bravo to Washington County residents who voted for the RAP tax. It’s great to know there are that many folks in the county who can see beyond their noses and themselves to want to provide future recreational benefits for the kids and adults of the county besides just church activities five nights or days out of seven. This is a great step toward bringing St. George and the county into the 21st century.

    My guess is that a lot of the dissenters are people who smoke and/or drive trucks or other gas eaters just for the hell of it. When was the last time you considered the high taxes you pay on cigarettes or gas in Utah? Do you think cigarettes and gas should be (a) banned or (b) untaxed for your pleasure? I know you’d rather tear up the landscape on your ATVs and hold Utah back from the 21st century as long as you possibly can, but my friends, the future is not only on its way, it’s here. (And if the future is here, can all eternity be far behind?)

    Washington County will have parks, recreation and – yes – arts to show for it.

    Congratulations, Washington County…

    • Matthew Sevald November 5, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Normally I agree with your comments anthropologist, but here you’re talking nonsense. It’s not government’s role to provide entertainment venues and “culture”. It is entirely the role of the free market to do so and government simply needs to foster an environment which will promote that. This tax is stupid.

    • Duks November 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      so why don’t you just pay my extra tax? That works for me!! Have you been outside? There are lots of parks in Washington County. How many more do you need? And the city is already spending $3 million dollars to support the arts? Why is more needed?

  • JOSH DALTON (INCOGNEGRO) November 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I guess now we can welcome another economical crash. Then we will all be un-employed again while congress collects their vacation pay.

    • Zonkerb November 22, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Shut up and have a soda

  • Pike Bishop November 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    “Voters feel it a civic duty to vote but feel no moral obligation to become informed. Very few take the time to get to know the candidates or issues. Citizens hide behind straight party voting hoping to conceal their indolence.”

    Mr. White, the way to win over the electorate is not to call them lazy and shiftless in your post-election snit

  • Duks November 5, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    If you think the taxing will end with this, you are delusional

  • Koolaid November 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Instead of increasing taxes, why doesn’t the city just have a bunch of good ole fundraisers?

  • Wilbur November 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Me, I’ll just keep shopping on Amazon. F#$% their RAP tax.

  • rap this November 5, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I hope they use the RAP tax for another Carrousel and Splash pad, you know something I use all the time, because they can do as they see fit with this money. Its alright though because “tourists” will bear the brunt of the tax (according the the backers) so we as citizen here year round need not worry about it.

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP November 6, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Uhm, this is Utah, is there ever a time when republicans don’t ‘take’ an election?

    As far as the “rap” tax, the reason I didn’t want it is because I don’t want them buying up and spending millions trying to renovate old derelict useless buildings. They’ll find something stupid to spend it on that only serves to enrich more entrenched good ol’ boys…

    • Republican November 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Yes, it was amazing that a Republican incumbent earned 66% of the vote! Stop the presses!

  • arrowone November 6, 2014 at 8:42 am

    FYI Simone……..Gas was $1.81 a gal nationally when Bush left office.

  • sleepy hallow November 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I am with WILBUR. I’ll just keep spending my money at Amazon for non-food items. Screw the RAP tax and those who push it on others who will never use their stupid artsy stuff. And I will also continue to take my money to Mesquite’s WalMart and other business’s there where the sales tax is less and where I also see a lot of St. George residents shopping as well. Gee….I wonder why?? And it’s just not the Republicans pushing it….it also has its fair share of Democrats support as well. IT’S STILL A D…* TAX!!!! don’t you people get it?? Let those who use and support the arts, pay for it themselves!!!
    *Ed. ellipses

    • Brian November 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Agreed. The reality is Tuacahn is a success because people CHOOSE to support it with their money. St. George Musical Theater hasn’t been able to come up with a theater of their own because people have CHOSEN not to support it with their dollars. Let the market do it’s job, and stop forcing crap on us that we don’t want. If the people of St. George wanted something done with the electric theater it would have done it (see again Tuacahn). The proper role of government isn’t to fulfill the dreams of the few with the money of the many, or to force the tastes of a few onto the many. Meanwhile, many things that ARE the proper role of government (like enforcing immigration laws and preventing illegal hiring) go unfunded or unattended to. Focus people, focus.

  • Intrigued November 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Terrible move designing the RAP tax Washington County. When you start to nickel and dime people, you will always lose in the end. Local businesses will certainly lose business and money as the community chooses to shop elsewhere (which is getting easier and easier to do with technology). What a shame and disappointment for the community.

  • Teacher November 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

    * Iverson actually did run for office back in 2000.

    “[David] Clark ran unopposed for the State House in the 2000 General election having defeated Victor Iverson in the Republican Primary by a margin of 51% to 49%…]


  • Koolaid, November 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    I type some dumb thing and I don’t know why. I apologize to all republicans for commenting on things I know nothing about. My heritage has been on the welfare for years and I apologize for that along with the money you good tax payers send to the country of my heritage. We will be ever greatful with out the ability to pay back what we’ve taken do to our laziness. Thanks again may you all forgive us.

    • frank November 7, 2014 at 1:07 am

      You are so racist. I just wish every worker would pay their share of taxes. Funny how you democrats play that race card when it is expected of you to pay a fair share. You are such a crybaby.

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