Washington County Commissioner Josh WarburtonIf you’re still on the fence about who you’re voting for for Washington County Commissioner, I’d like you to consider the issues at stake in this election and where I stand on them. I feel I’ve been winning people over of all political affiliations based on my positions on these issues and my consistency from issue to issue. So I’ve put together this bulletpoint voter’s guide to where I stand on these issues and why.

The Lake Powell Pipeline

I’m against it for the following reasons.

It would cause increased impact fees, property taxes, water rates, and state taxes.

That would therefore make it more difficult for families to afford to live here and deter people from wanting to move here, stifling our economy. Costs of living versus wages are already high, partially because of high property and other taxes. We need to reduce taxes, not increase them.

Building the pipeline would likely instigate a costly legal battle with other states over the water, because the Colorado River is over-allocated already. Proof of this is the fact that the river does not flow to the ocean despite not every state receiving their legal allotment. This is due to miscalculation of the actual flow of water during the wettest decade in measured history in addition to climate change. Allocation is likely to be adjusted to reflect actual flow sooner or later. The reality is that the water doesn’t exist, so going after it is misguided.

Fourteen years of drought demonstrates how unpredictable the flow in the Colorado can be. The lower it is, the more costly it is to pump up and out. The building of the pipeline would also disrupt many miles of delicate habitat.

Twenty Utah economists and our own state auditor say the cost is too high for us to afford with current populations. It would unduly burden us taxpayers. The argument that it would be a similar cost per person as Quail Lake Reservoir 30 years ago is misguided since that project could have been delayed had we installed conservation measures. Those costs have been passed on to taxpayers and are partially responsible for the already high housing prices we have now.

Instead, I support alternatives to the pipeline including recapture and reuse, voluntary agricultural conversion, maximizing our local waters, and conservation. On average, we in Washington County water our lawns twice what we need to. Just installing simple rain shutoff devices, for instance, could save millions of gallons water annually since 80 percent of water use in the county is outside the home. It would also reduce monthly water bills and wear and tear on the sprinkler systems through reduced use.

A Washington County animal shelter

I am for it for the following reasons.

As there is currently no facility for abandoned and neglected animals in the unincorporated areas of Washington County, is would address this serious need in the county.

It would create a collaboration between the county and cities that currently have shelters, relieving much of the burden from the current shelters by providing vet care, inoculation, and training.

Because the proposed shelter would utilize qualifying voluntary inmate labor from the adjacent Purgatory Correctional Facility, it could be maintained cost-effectively. These programs have been proven effective all over the world as they give inmates something to care for, building up their self-worth while also providing much needed training for neglected and abandoned animals before they are adopted, making them much better housemates.

The proposed Northern Corridor

I’m against it for the following reasons.

Building it would violate both the word and spirit of the 20-year-old reserve declaration, which states that any modifications to the pristine area would need to be an improvement to the natural environment. It would be hard to argue that the construction of any road through it would be an improvement.

It has not been determined that the road is needed. While growth to the area has slowed significantly in the last 10 years, we’ll also have more public transit and technology that should help minimize traffic congestion in the coming years. So like the need for more water, the need for this road has been overstated.

Building the corridor would cost us millions of taxpayer dollars (estimates are $94 million) and put us way over our transportation budget. Instead, we should spend that money on maintaining existing roads where our dollars will go much further. It’s estimated that it costs us just $1 to properly maintain an existing road versus $10 to build or reconstruct a road, and we have plenty of roads that need maintenance now.

Increasing sheriff’s officers’ wages

I’m for it for the following reasons.

It would mean that we could hire the best people for this important and difficult job.

Underpaying, as we currently do, has created multiple vacancies in the sheriff’s office as we aren’t attracting the most qualified candidates. These inadequacies and vacancies cause delayed response times to calls and can put the county at risk of lawsuit.

It also limits current officers’ abilities to provide for their families. Proof of this is the fact that the majority of officers rent their residences rather than own homes.

I strongly believe in paying people fairly for their work, and proper pay for our county employees encourages private businesses to pay competitive wages as well.

Proposition 1

I’m against it for the following reasons.

It means additional taxes on visitors as well as on local families and businesses already struggling to make ends meet.

We already collect a lot of tax dollars. We simply need to prioritize spending them better.

It’s an indirect tax rather than a user tax, meaning that the tax burden falls on all of us rather than on the users of the roads, which is how a gas tax works.

If we remove the Northern Corridor from the transportation budget, we no longer have a budget deficit.

What makes me uniquely qualified

I would bring much needed heart to local government.

I’ve run The Independent for 20 years, running a tight ship and weathering difficult economic times in a changing publishing landscape.

I am civic-minded and an active Rotary, Visitors Bureau, and St. George Chamber of Commerce member.

I’m a lifelong unaffiliated, making me beholden to no one but the citizens of Washington County.

I committed early on to not accept any PAC or corporate money, which I have actually turned down.

I’ve lived in seven communities in Washington County, west to Veyo and east to Springdale, and understand how each community has its own set of difficulties and strengths.

As your next Washington County Commissioner I will work to do the following:

—Get the proposed county animal shelter built under budget and sooner than later.

—Raise sheriff’s officers’ wages to level of municipal officers in the county and in the current budget.

—Work in coordination with our federal and state agencies to protect our public lands for use by all and work against selling off our treasured lands to private interests.

—Create broader conversations and creative solutions and address areas of neglect in the county without raising taxes.

—Address Zion area transportation issues including parking, public transportation, and traffic.

—Reopen Pah Tempe Hot Springs to the public in coordination with the Washington County Water Conservancy District, the United States Geological Survey, and the towns of Hurricane and La Verkin.

I ask for your vote to be your next Washington County Commissioner.

I want to take a few extra moments here to thank everyone who has helped and supported my campaign. There are way too many too list, but you know who you are: hosts of events, my girlfriend Leah, my mom Lily, donors, everyone who put signs in their yards, volunteers like Preston, Matt, Derick, Kris, Kim, and everyone else who has sent their love and support. Thanks to all of you, it’s been an amazing learning experience!

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