Republican candidates vying for Rep. Ipson’s seat speak at forum

ST. GEORGE – Three candidates vying to represent Utah House District 75 introduced themselves at a meeting of the Dixie Republican Forum Tuesday. Each is seeking to claim the seat currently held by Rep. Don Ipson, who filed to run for Senate District 29. Sen. Steve Urquhart, who currently represents the district, announced his intent to retire from the Senate earlier this year.

Rep. Don Ipson giving a quick wrap-up of the recent legislative session at the Dixie Republican Forum, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Rep. Don Ipson giving a quick wrap-up of the recent legislative session at the Dixie Republican Forum, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Ipson, who also attended the forum, gave a quick recap of the year’s recently wrapped up legislative session.

Approximately 1,250 bills were filed in the 2016 Legislature with 475 ultimately passing, Ipson said. Among the measures that passed were those related to education funding.

“We worked on some issues for Dixie State University. We got a physician assistant program funded in conjunction with the University of Utah,” Ipson said. “I think that with the medical growth that’s occurring in our community, that is phenomenal.”

The Legislature allocated $1.5 million to the physician assistant program. A new business building set for the campus of Southern Utah University was also approved.

“And as you know, I’ve filed to run for senate. That’s opened up my House seat, and it’s brought some attention,” Ipson said as he noted the three men seated nearby who want his current position.

The candidates gathered included Walt Brooks, president of a software company; rancher and small business owner Slade Hughes; and businessman Steve Kemp.

Public lands

The candidates largely agreed upon three issues related to public lands, promoting the idea that the government closest to the people governs the best versus public land being overseen by outsiders who have no personal stake in the community.

Each candidate said the state should manage public lands and while state control is supported, one of the candidates said lands management should be even more tightly controlled.

“State control is better than federal control, but county control is better than state control,” Hughes said. “I believe those in Washington County can manage Washington County’s land better than Salt Lake City can manage Washington County’s lands.”

The candidates also voiced support for the state’s proposed lawsuit against the federal government over the management of public lands.

(L-R) House District 75 candidates Steve Kemp, Slade Hughes and Walt Brooks, with Dixie Republican Forum host Larry Meyers, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
(L-R) House District 75 candidates Steve Kemp, Slade Hughes and Walt Brooks, with Dixie Republican Forum host Larry Meyers, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News


“Public education is the most important thing the state does,” Kemp said, adding he believes Utah does more for students with the funding it has than any other state. “I believe it needs to continue to be a very important priority for the Legislature.”

Like the other candidates, Kemp said he believes that the closer education is to home, the better and more efficient it will be.

“I know better how to educate my children than someone in Washington, D.C.,” Kemp said, “So I think at least at the state level, we need to keep the decisions here in the state of Utah… where the decision-making can be regulated by the people.”

While the state’s education system does well with the money it is allocated, Brooks said, he believes the primary individuals responsible for a child’s education are first the parents, then the student, then the education system.


Though Brooks, Hughes and Kemp agreed the county needs to find additional water resources, Brooks wasn’t as open to looking at the Lake Powell Pipeline as the others. He said other options need to be considered.

(L-R) House District 75 candidates Walt Brooks, Steve Kemp and Slade Hughes speak with members of the Dixie Republican Forum, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
(L-R) House District 75 candidates Walt Brooks, Steve Kemp and Slade Hughes speak with members of the Dixie Republican Forum, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Brooks said he recently learned that Las Vegas is seeking to pipe water in from the Great Basin region. He said the project would be very expensive for Nevada when a cheaper alternative might be offered that could benefit both Washington County and Las Vegas.

“The suggestion was: so why don’t we exchange with Nevada, our rights for their rights?” Brooks said.

Instead of attempting to build a 140-mile pipeline from Lake Powell at a proposed cost of $1.3 billion or more, why not simply trade water rights? Nevada, which receives water from the Colorado River, could gain some of Utah’s rights to the water in exchange for water rights in the Great Basin area. Building a pipeline into Washington County from the Great Basin area would be less expensive, he said.

“Before we stamp a yes or no on one of these options, we need to do some more research on what is available to bring the water down to St. George,” Brooks said.


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Gary March 16, 2016 at 7:01 am

    America has a HUGE drug problem! 90% of the cocaine here comes through our southern border; 80% of meth and heroin here comes through our southern border!
    America has a HUGE illegal migrant problem! 81% of illegal migrants favor Democrats because they are coming from big government countries and Democrats favor big government. Consequently, as illegal immigration continues, Republican ideals lose! This is why people who want to give more political power to the left want this crime to continue.

    However, the wealthiest exploiters really don’t care much about Dems vs Reps, or that our children have easy access to drugs, but they DO care about cheap labor! THEY are the establishment; THEY fund the media and candidates from BOTH parties; and THEY will do anything to maintain the status quo that is benefiting them so much!

    Please, we NEED to vote for Trump because he is one of the very few candidates in recent history who isn’t another paid-for stooge looking to sell us out (BTW, we would be in better shape today if Ross Perot had won), and he is the only one who will have an absolute mandate to build the wall and secure our border. The establishment has been fiercely trying to derail his campaign for those very reasons!

  • Gary March 16, 2016 at 7:02 am

    The problems with illegal migrants is that our emergency rooms are constantly full with them (I am a nurse so I know), the tremendous harm to our children’s education (my wife is a school teacher so she knows), the welfare costs (my nephew is a social worker so he knows), the destruction of middle class jobs (I worked in construction for 20 years so I know this too), the increased gangs/drugs/crime (my cousin was a police chief so he knows), and so many neighborhoods being destroyed (I lived in a poor one and watched it turn into an illegal migrant, gang infested, drug hole over the course of 15 years; and until any of these corrupt politicians living in their gated communities experience something like that, their rhetoric means less than zero to me).

    Despite misleading info and cherry-picked statistics by illegal migrant supporters (exploiters and sympathizers), that’s the reality where the rubber meets the road!

    If the epic fail politicians had listened to their constituents, rather than all of the wealthy exploiters, and done something to stop illegal immigration when it started in earnest back in the 1960s, we wouldn’t have this problem. We would have more legal, middle class immigrants strengthening our working class and contributing to our society instead!

  • Gary March 16, 2016 at 7:03 am

    The “Establishment” are the wealthy elites who fund and control the media and both political parties (Dems vs Reps do not matter to them). That’s why America continues to be sold out to corporate and foreign interests, is overwhelmed by cheap illegal migrant labor, racks up debt, is perpetually in wars, and continues down the path to bankruptcy with no change in sight.

    For example, Obamacare was just another corporate empowerment (of insurance, hospitals, pharma) at the expense of taxpayers (the middle class in particular). As always, I’m sure the politicians got their palms greased a little to sell out their fellow Americans. My wife and I now spend about $5,000/year more on health insurance than we did 8 years ago and are required by law to do so.

    If a candidate who isn’t a paid-for puppet actually might be elected, the Establishment always utilizes its resources to stop them. This is what we see them doing with Trump. However, Trump is unique in the fact he has tremendous resources and an incredible ability to handle a corrupt press (Ross Perot had the resources but could not handle the press like Trump).

  • Gary March 16, 2016 at 7:03 am

    American media is a democracy-destroying institution of propaganda as it exists today. I recommend searching for and watching the video “The Untruth about Donald Trump” to observe how the media has lied about Trump and fooled so many.

  • Brian March 16, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Gary, when the people are thirsty enough they’ll drink the sand because they don’t know the difference. Trump is a textbook narcissist and a pathological liar. He isn’t saying what he believes, he’s saying what he knows you want to hear. He’s a shyster and a charlatan that is playing off of peoples fear and legitimate, righteous anger over the state of our nation and corruption in politics. But he won’t be any better.

    The problem with Washington is that we have WAY too much deal making going on, Trump is the biggest deal maker there is. But his deals are NEVER good for both sides, they’re only good for HIM. He builds a casino, finances it using junk bonds (literally days after promising he won’t), the casino goes bankrupt, the investors and community gets screwed, and he makes a fortune. Is that really your definition of success? That is Trump’s MO. Everything he does follows that pattern. Of course he’s rich, but all he leaves behind him is scorched earth.

    As for his character, he has none. He’s a liar. He views and treats women as objects. He’s vulgar and crude. He’s thin-skinned, and if you cross him you go from a great person to lucifer. He has zero consistency on the issues. He never backs down from a lie, he just keeps repeating it hoping no one will notice (apparently you haven’t).

    And the worst part is, the joke will be on us (conservatives, or at least people who think they are conservative), because he’ll lose. The media is sitting on a treasure trove of horrible audio and video of Trump being a horses patoot, and they can’t wait until after the convention to unleash it. The quickest way to make sure we have another President Clinton is to vote for Trump.

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS March 16, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      probably true. trump is likely just a show pony and a lying fraud . it’s basically a one party system, and the ruling elite win no matter what. American democracy is dead. conservatism is dead. we live in a dying nation. was good for a while while it lasted.

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS March 16, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    oh, and gary, after president hillary let’s in another 50 million or so migrants from south of the border, and to a point no more will even want to come, she’ll probably start loading Africans and arab muslims on barges and shipping them over here by the millions. welcome to the dream of multi-culturalism…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.