I saw recently a post on Facebook from someone who liked my speech at the Delegate Forum, but was concerned that I was part of the “establishment”. For some in the community, I understand how this perception may exist. I’d like to spend the time with this post to put those worries to rest.
First off, we must define what is meant by the term “establishment”. According to Collins Dictionary, establishment refers to “people who have power and influence in the running of a county, society, or organization as the establishment or the Establishment.” For some people, they “tend to think of the establishment as a group of people that is consistently involved in party politics.” I kind of think the concern of the Facebook poster sits somewhere between these two definitions.
For public office, this is the first time I’ve run for anything. Now, according to the first definition, if I succeed, that would instantly put me in the establishment. This is why I think that a merger of these two definitions is what’s intended, and I definitely don’t fit this description.
And now for the big “but”. I’m sure this perception actually comes from my involvement in the Republican Party. I haven’t spoken much about that during my campaign (unless directly asked), as this is a non-partisan position. I feel it’s best to lay everything out, so you can make a clear determination if I’m the future politician for you.
I’ve always been conservative. I’ve also kept an eye on national politics. In 2008, when Barack Obama was first running to be President, I began learning about his background. The more I learned, the more concerned I became, and realized I needed to get involved at the grass roots to try and keep him from getting office. At that point, I was a conservative independent.
I heard about this thing called a “caucus”, and decided to check it out. Found out my local caucus was being run by a friend of mine, who informed me I was welcome at the meeting, but could not participate in the voting unless I was a registered Republican. I read through the party platform, and realized it aligned with many of my core beliefs, so I joined the party. By the end of the meeting, I was a County Delegate and Alternate State Delegate.
In 2015, the year after 2014 SB54 legislation was passed by the Utah State Legislature, allowing for potential candidates to gather signatures to get on to party primary elections, I decided to run for the State Central Committee, which controls the by-laws of the Utah State Republican Party, to see if I could help fix what I believe to be a grossly inappropriate piece of law. I failed in that election. I tried again in 2017, and failed again. During this time, I told the Washington County Republican Party Chair, Jimmy Kestin, that I felt information about elections such as the S.C.C. was to hard to find, keeping many people (like myself) from easily becoming involved in the party.
In 2020, I was voted by my precinct to be a Vice-Chair. I had no idea what this really meant, other than helping out with caucus every other year. I didn’t realize until later that it also put me on the County Central Committee (similar to the S.C.C., but voting on the by-laws for the Washington County Republican Party).
At the November 2021 County Central Committee meeting, the new chair, Leesa Sandburg asked for a volunteer to be the Chair of Communications. I figured I had complained enough about information such as upcoming party elections not getting out, I should do something about it, and volunteered. In this position, I create Press Releases (that are largely ignored by the local Southern Utah press – St. George News, I’m looking at you), and added a Press Release section to the Washington County Republican Party’s website.
I was asked to start attending the Executive Committee Meetings (as anyone can), so I could get information I needed to create the Press Releases. I wasn’t on the Executive Committee, so I couldn’t vote, though I was pulled into several committees, and asked opinions on things like the Lincoln Day dinners.
Late last year, I was asked to be one of the Vice Chairs in Legislative District 73, under then Chair Jim Rutz. Both positions are administrative in nature (a lot of phone calls, emails and texts), though being the Chair does put you on the Washington County Executive Committee. In January of this year, Jim Rutz, decided to step down. I was asked to serve as the interim chair. I ran as Chair in last March’s County Convention, and won by acclimation (no one else ran). At that same convention, I ran for S.C.C. again (and won this time).
I realize this is rather lengthy, but I felt the timeline needed to be established with my involvement with the Republican Party. Yes, I am currently in two positions to affect policy (as a member of the County Central Committee and the State Central Committee), and to a small degree, the Washington County Executive Committee (though honestly, it’s mainly about organizing events for the local Republicans). But, as I suspect, if the expected definition for “the establishment” is someone who has power, and continues to run to be in power, then I would fail to meet that requirement, as I’ve only been in any kind of leadership since January of this year.
If anyone reading this still has concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be more than happy to answer any questions.