Saturday, April 21, 2007

Our Democratic Family

by Megan Risbon,
Chair Salt Lake County

For anyone who says that Democrats have no family values, I urge them to take the time and meet our Democrats from Southern Utah.

Although I have lived in Utah my entire life, I have never been to Southern Utah. And, although my immediate family is quite small, I have found out I have an extended family in Southern Utah who would do anything to make certain I felt at home. This past weekend, I had the great opportunity to visit our Southern Utah Democrats—it was a great experience I hope to replicate again very soon.

As State Party Vice Chair Rob Miller and I were driving to St. George, his car broke down just outside of Beaver. We made a few phone calls and within minutes, former candidate (and newly elected Iron County Chair) Emily Hollingshead called to say she was on her way from Cedar City to rescue us.

Meanwhile, we had the car towed to Beaver. Our driver was a local man (I’m sorry I didn’t catch his name) who shared with us stories about his childhood farming days. He told us that he had dropped everything he was doing at the shop to come and get us. “That is just how we do it around here,” he said. “You needed help and I couldn’t very well leave you out there stranded.” We were touched with his humility and kindness towards complete strangers.

Emily met us at the station and we immediately set off to her home where she let us freshen up and change our clothes. We rushed off to the Washington County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner where I caught up with old friends and made new ones. Chairman Cyril Noble planned a great show and I could see all of the hard work and dedication he has put into the party the last few years. (Word is, he had convinced the very Republican State Senator from Washington County to purchase a table for the event—Thanks Bill!) We had a hard time ending the event and our conversations as we were enjoying the company of folks like, lifelong Washington County resident, Colt Smith and his girlfriend Maggie.

The Southern Utah Democrats reminded me of when I was involved with my home-county party in Uintah County. Everyone knows everyone and every get-together feels like a family reunion and everyone is welcome.

Saturday morning brought the beginning of our non-stop, 3-county trek. Three county conventions in 10 hours—could we do it? First up was Washington County where Cyril Noble had again organized an event that was not only informative but also entertaining. I was able to meet Jodie Smith, mother of Colt Smith (who, by the way, gave a great and inspiring speech recounting his 2006 legislative campaign). Watch out Republicans of Southern Utah—this man is poised and prepared to take your place very soon!

At the Iron County Convention, we listened to Senator Pat Jones again tell us that hope for the Democrats of Southern Utah is not lost. “While most of the people here vote for Republicans, their values are really Democratic values—they just don’t know it yet,” she explained. After a brief pit stop, we started off to Kanab for the Kane County Convention. Emily was our scenic tour guide, pointing out the spectacular scenery for which Southern Utah is known.

Now remember, I’ve never been to Southern Utah so as we drove into Kanab, I felt as if I had stepped into a whole new world. I didn’t think towns like Kanab existed—it reminded me of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars—after Lightning McQueen fixed it up of course.

The crowd at the Kanab Library was great—full of progressive and fresh ideas! There was an excitement in the room and I felt right at home. As with Washington and Iron counties, I have no doubt that a Democrat will be taking over one or more State Legislative seats in 2008. The area is ready for change and honest and ethical leadership.

At each convention, our group had the opportunity to listen to State Party Chairman Wayne Holland. Even though his message was the same, his words were different each time. I have had the opportunity to work closely with Wayne the past two years and am always struck by his passion and determination to grow the party and get more Democrats elected statewide. I exclaimed, “If a person doesn’t become a Democrat after hearing Wayne speak, I don’t know what will.” He has this pattern of starting off speaking methodically and low then slowly raising his voice that energizes the crowd.

Saturday evening, Emily took us to her parents’ home in Mt. Carmel, a place that has been virtually untouched by 21st century life—except for the wireless internet service. Emily again played tour guide as she told us about Artist Maynard Dixon and his old homestead her family has turned into a great destination for aspiring artists. Her parents and their guests welcomed our haggard group into their home with good food and conversation. It was the perfect way to end our day. Sunday morning, I woke up early and enjoyed the quietness of the vast landscape in Mt. Carmel. I mingled with European tourists at the gift shops and pondered the past weekend. It truly was an enjoyable and worthwhile weekend excursion.

Thank you to our Democratic family of Southern Utah for hosting us and planning such a wonderful time. Thank you Emily and Mark for sharing your home and family with us. Thank you Colt, Jodie and Maggie for keeping up the fight and making me laugh all weekend long. Thank you Cyril for your hard work and leadership. Thank you to all the others who volunteered and helped plan the events. Most of all, thank you to those who have dedicated their free time to help build the Democratic Party in Southern Utah. Success is not exclusive to Salt Lake County and because of you and your efforts, as Chairman Holland said, the Red Rocks of Southern Utah will look even better with bright blue sky above them.


Emily said...

Megan -

Thank you for the kind words. You are very welcome - it was not only a pleasure to be your tour guide for the weekend, but it was FUN, too!

Ya'll come back now!


Anonymous said...

30 people in Iron county?

oh brother said...

Anonymous -

and your point?

Emily said...

Anonymous -

It may seem like a low number to you, but 30 people in an organizing year is better than we've had in a very long time in Iron County.

Baby steps.

Emily said...

Iron County GOP Convention:

48 people in attendance.

Megan Risbon said...

Thank for the invite to come back Emily. I am planning on the Southern Utah Women's Club luncheon in May.

Also, let's remember that Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the Democratic Party in Salt Lake County. With hard work and great candidates who represent the people, we have no where else to go but up!