Something significant happened to me on Wednesday morning. I stopped biting my nails, a bad habit that only seems to happen with me in times of stress. On a day when many others were just waking up to the reality of a Trump presidency and all the worries that many feel because of it, I was feeling quite relieved.
Although I would very much have loved to have won my election for Washington County Commissioner, there is a great sense of relief with it just being over. On an evening where most of America was surprised by the results of the presidential election, I had my own surprise in a pretty bad beat on my first attempt to be a Washington County Commissioner. Although by the first count I did receive well over 6100 votes, and the final numbers will certainly be a bit higher, I was disappointed to not have made a larger cut into the Republican candidate’s vote total. I believed I could based on many factors. Reading the comments on the articles in the other area publications, I got the impression that the tide was turning in my favor toward the end of the race.
As I have expressed in some of my social posts, I have quite a bit of respect for my Republican opponent, Dean Cox, as he was always a gentleman in our forums and debates. But what especially impressed me was his willingness to stay and talk with me after every debate. We appeared at four forums, and Dean and I probably spoke for another combined three hours after those forums, largely just the two of us. What struck me in those conversations was his willingness to hear my ideas, observations, and even criticisms of his positions and to take the time to explain his to me, one-on-one, with seemingly no other motive but to enrich both of our understandings of these issues. It’s one of the things that I enjoyed the most: getting to understand the inner workings of the man who will become our next Washington County Commissioner.
And while I had hoped that more of the Republican voters of our county had decided to kick the habit of simply voting for the person on the Republican ticket, I also gained a better understanding for why so many supported him, separate from his political affiliation. Ultimately, it looks like he earned a larger percentage of both the non-straight party ticket voters as well as the independent, unaffiliated voters than either myself or Greg Aldred, the third candidate for the office this go-round.
And while Dean spent the most money and had the endorsements of Republican lawmakers, I also applaud him for taking the time to debate Greg and me four times in an election where he had statistically such a large advantage … not all heavily favored candidates in our area have done that.
My last interaction with Dean before the election was at his Rotary Club in St. George the day before the election. As it was the day before the vote, the club offered him time to discuss his positions on the issues and recruit voters. Dean graciously offered to share that time with me, something no one asked him to do, not even me. I think that says a lot about a person who would do something for somebody that has been labeled their opponent, even possibly to his own detriment of losing a few votes. He absolutely did not need to do that but did it anyway.
I have been told a few negative stories about Dean and was even told some information that my supporters felt I should use to attack him. But I felt like to do that would be to run counter to my own motivation for running. I believe we need a kinder, gentler, better-listening government. I am not interested in tearing anyone down for my own gain. We should all be working to build each other up.
And I think dedicating oneself to public service should mean serving all of the public the best we can. Even in my last interaction, a good 20 minutes spent with just the two of us talking primarily about water and the Lake Powell Pipeline, I pointed out to him how much closer we are on agreement on that and other issues than we are further away. He still wants to build the pipeline but agrees we should implement conservation, reuse, and local water development as well.
Since Dean agrees we should be conserving much more, developing our local waters, and working on reprocessing and reuse, I would love to see the citizenry reinforce their desire for this strategy rather than pushing so hard for the pipeline. In the next few years, I believe it will become increasingly clear that both the cost to build the pipeline and a true lack of water available from the Colorado should put the focus on conservation first. As Dean stated in our debates, we are in the second driest state in the nation, which I would often follow with, “Then we should start acting like it.”
So while I would like to take a moment to congratulate Dean on a dominant win in this election and Greg on running a great race, I also want to point out that I was able to expand their stated positions and even had them incorporate some of my talking points. So what I accomplished here largely was successfully broadening conversations, adding my thoughts to the debates on these very important issues, and possibly even influencing my opponents’ positions. Will I run again? It’s too early for me to know that right now, but I will tell you that I am committed to serving not only my fellow citizens of Washington County but also the world. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” is both my favorite Gandhi quote and also words I try to live by. Be well.