Caucus meetings draw committed voters from around county


By Louise R. SHAW lshaw@davisclipper.com

BOUNTIFUL—A belief in the importance of the political process and the value of letting their voices be heard drew Davis County residents to caucus meetings throughout the valley on Tuesday, March 20. People of all political persuasions attended precinct meetings in local schools, where they met candidates, reviewed platforms and elected delegates. “It’s important for people to be involved,” said Colleen Busenbark, who attended the Democratic caucus meeting held at Mueller Park Junior High with her husband, Blaine Busenbark. The two have lived in Bountiful since 1964 she said, and though they made their way slowly and with the help of a walker, they were committed to participating. “You need to know your legislators so they know you’re interested,” she said. “Too many people are just content to rest on their laurels.” Jennifer Eggett brought her two young sons, Wesley and Maxwell to the caucus. While she wants them to make their own decisions on which party and candidates to support, it is important to her that they get involved. “I want to teach them that this is a process,” she said. “They have to take part in the process – not just sit on the sidelines and complain.” Catherine Higgins, Democratic co-chair for Legislative District 19, was optimistic about the opportunity the party has this year. “In Davis County we have a really impressive bunch of candidates – including five women who are running for legislative district offices,” she said. “Democrats want to walk across the aisle and get things done. We want to do things that benefit all segments of society with issues like education that are important to everyone.” The caucus meeting, she said, is an important building block for the whole operation of the party. One of the Democratic candidates, Courtney Jones, is running for House District 19. “Democratic values are Utah values,” she said. “I’m here to show people in Utah how they align and that we can be bipartisan and support family values.” Jolyn Metro, vice chairman of Davis Democrats, welcomed attendees from the precincts in House Districts 19 and 20 to the caucus with enthusiasm. “We are so happy with such a good turnout,” she said to those gathered in the school gym. “You are all here because you care.” Just blocks away, Republican Party precincts met at Bountiful High to elect delegates and garner support for party issues. “It’s important that the people’s feelings and values are known,” said Shea Smoot, Republican chair for Precinct 5 who conducted the meeting for his precinct in the school’s Media Room. Other precincts met in small groups throughout the building. “This is the grassroots of grassroots,” said Smoot. “By being here, we can be sure we elect people that share our values and that represent our politics. It is unique the way we do it, but it is good to be part of the process and make sure we elect people who represent what we believe in.” Precinct secretary Stephanie Jones said it’s important for everyone to do what they can to affect change. “We’re just trying to find the best representative for our needs,” she said. “This gives the average individual the opportunity to have a voice.” Davis Wright and his wife, Leah, stood in the school’s foyer to collect signatures for the “Keep my voice” campaign. That effort is underway to prevent signature gathering for candidates and ensure the primacy of the caucus system. “I believe the caucus system brings the best people into office and keeps the voice of the people,” said Wright. When delegates are nominated at caucuses, they have a chance to educate themselves on candidates “and do their own research instead of being told by the media who to vote for.” “It vets our candidates and keeps big money out of politics,” he said. Delegates can “make sure people are who they say they are and do what they say they will do prior to electing them.”

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