On February 24, 2018, county and state Republican party leaders met with Hildale Republican voters to discuss party values, the structure of Utah’s caucus system, and the upcoming precinct caucuses on March 20, 2018. The speakers at the meeting included Washington County Republican Party Chairman Jimi Kestin, Dr. Paul Gooch, Hildale Precinct Chairman Lawrence Barlow, and Legislative District 71 Vice- Chairman Mark Borowiak.
The event took place at the Hildale branch of the Washington County Library system. The discussion began with Mr. Kestin, as he explained how the political process works and why Utah’s caucus system is so important. The precinct caucus is essentially a neighborhood gathering of an official political party where delegates are chosen to represent the community at nominating conventions on the county and state level. Those delegates get to know potential candidates, and their votes determine which candidates make it onto the party’s ballot for the primary election.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide education. The last election cycle marked the first precinct caucus for Hildale. While the process is not particularly hard to understand, it can seem complicated and requires a degree of education and support to work efficiently. One of the great aspects of the system is that the people of the precinct get to decide how it functions. It doesn’t have to look like every other precinct meeting and isn’t directed by county or state party officials.
For the caucus system to work, it requires that citizens step up to take on the responsibilities of managing the precinct’s business. Mr. Kestin praised Precinct-Chair Lawrence Barlow saying, “Your precinct chairman has been terrific. Every time we have a meeting, he’s there. Every time there’s a convention, he’s been there whether he’s a delegate or not. I’m here today because of the level of communication we’ve had with Lawrence, and I’d tell you that you have been well served by his hard work.”
The next precinct caucus meeting is on March 20, 2018. The structure of the meeting is determined by the bylaws set forth at previous meetings. Citizens can make a motion to change leadership or rules governing the procedure. For example, if you would like to be a part of precinct leadership, it would be a matter of gathering enough supporters at the meeting to vote you into that position. Although all are welcome to attend, only registered Republicans can vote. You can register as a Republican at the meeting with a state-issued ID and a utility bill as proof of address.
It is not uncommon to hear voters express a feeling that they are left out of the process of governance. The caucus system requires that you show up and support someone that you trust to work on your behalf or to take on those civic responsibilities yourself. Hildale has seen a massive increase in political engagement, which has already led to many positive changes in the community. This increase in participation has garnered the attention of officials across the state and as far as Washington DC. The size of Hildale’s electorate is enough to make a change, and if officials see that there is a high level of engagement, they are likely to respond in ways that could be very impactful regarding economic development, community development, education, infrastructure and more.
If you have any specific questions about the Hildale Precinct caucus meeting, feel free to call Precinct Chairman Lawrence Barlow at (435) 680-4822.