Friday, June 16, 2006

StandardNET Live: Party leaders cross-examined at Boys State debate

Where do you stand?

Friday, June 16, 2006

By Amy K. Stewart
Standard-Examiner staff

Party leaders cross-examined at Boys State debate

OGDEN -- Gay marriage, illegal immigration, Social Security -- Utah Boys State participants peppered Republican and Democratic party leaders with questions on hot-button issues during a debate Thursday at Weber State University.

Joe Cannon, chairman of the Utah Republican Party, and Rob Miller, vice chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, addressed the 200 teens.

During the debate, the teens asked for each party's stance on gay marriage.

Miller said, "In the Democratic party, there are those

who believe that the most important value is we value each other."

Miller added he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman. But he is against forcing his religious beliefs on others.

Cannon said if one state, such as Massachusetts, legalizes a gay marriage and that couple moves to another state, such as Utah, it can cause legal confusion. "That is reason to regulate this," he said.

Boys State governor Chris Ciancone, who just graduated from Layton High School, asked how the two feel about illegal immigration.

Cannon said, "We need to create a barrier -- but it has to have a door in it that lets willing people into the country to do the kind of jobs that need to be done."

Miller said he believes government should be going after those companies that are bringing in illegal immigrants and employing them.

"Democrats believe in a fair living wage. And as long as we are using illegal immigrants or undocumented workers to do those jobs, we're doing it because of greed," he said.

Tyler Brklacich, a senior at Woods Cross High School, asked the pair how they feel about personal Social Security accounts being put into a large money pool and distributed to all retirees.

Miller said he believes people should have the opportunity to have private accounts. However, no one can predict their own future.

"Social Security has been a savior to so many people. I think it's important we make sure it continues. It's something we all put into and have worked for," he said.

"It's there. It's a good idea. We need to maintain and preserve it."

Cannon said the problem is that the Social Security system is going bankrupt.

He warned the teens of a gloomy Social Security future. "It will be around for us. But you guys are in a deep amount of trouble when you come to retirement," Cannon said.

"What we'd like to see happen is individual accounts that you would own. That's how most Americans' retirement is today. Why not do it a way that would be debt-free and not put a burden on you to pay for the older generation, when you get older?" he asked.

Boys State participant Bandeira Setterburg, a senior at Ben Lomond High School, said he sees political leaders as role models.

"In the later years of my life, I want to go into politics. I figure this would be a great time to learn everything," Setterburg said.

The five-day Boys State event, sponsored by the American Legion, ends today. It is designed to educate selected youth on the process of government. Boys from across Utah take classes, campaign for office in elections, participate in a mock trial and listen to political leaders.

Thursday's debate was moderated by Standard-Examiner Managing Editor Andy Howell.

Republican Party Chairman Joe Cannon, left, and Democratic Party Vice Chairman Rob Miller take part in a debate Thursday during Boys State at Weber State University. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)

I want to thank Andy Howell, managing editor of the Standard-Examiner, for allowing The Utah Amicus the opportunity to republish this article.

Images and text copyright © 2005 by Ogden Publishing Corp.
Reproduction or reuse prohibited without written consent.

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