Candidates To Replace John Valentine Distinguish Themselves at Debate

Candidates to replace John Valentine debate on Tuesday night. Photo by David Lifferth.
Candidates to replace John Valentine debate at  the Tuesday night. Photo by David Lifferth.

Last night’s Senate District 14 debate between candidates vying to replace John Valentine was one of the most mild I have ever seen. All four candidates are great men who have served our community and would do well as the Senator from Senate District 14. Most of the debate focused on similarities. Yes they are all very conservative, but it also highlighted some of their differences.

Representation and Range of Legislation

The biggest difference I spotted was how each person would represent. The person, in my opinion, with the most set agenda and legislation is State Representative Keven Stratton. Stratton is very focused on the federal lands issue and has even received endorsements because of it. On the other hand Stephen Sandstrom has covered a much larger variety of topics while serving in the House, many of which have come from constituents.  Sandstrom has always made it a point to listen to what his constituents want. I found Sumsion and Al Jackson more in the middle. They seem to definitely have their own things they want to accomplish but would be somewhat willing to push forward the ideas of constituents and work on other issues.


A lot of time was given to education, talking about local control and even changing the way the state school board was elected. The real difference, in my opinion, was talking to Sandstrom who thought that teachers need to see their job more as a career rather than just another job. I personally believe that this is far more important than local control but will likely cost more money but should hopefully produce much better results. I have personally seen a huge difference between teachers who are working on a career as my own kids have traversed the public education system, including one year at a charter school.

Caucus System

This was another place where the candidates differentiated themselves. They all love the caucus system but have different approaches to the efforts by Count My Vote.  Sandstrom was the most welcoming of the compromise, welcoming the alternative way to the ballot. Rep. Stratton voted for it as he felt the alternative was far worse. Al Jackson and Sumsion would have voted against it.


Everybody agreed that water was an important issue. Stratton talked about local conservation with the power of incentives and personal choice. Al Jackson agreed that it should be a state issue, not a federal one. Sumsion pointed out that there are more water rights than water and that needs to be sorted out.  Sandstrom was able to point out how he successfully fought against Nevada taking our water with one of his bills.


  • Sumsion – I loved how he paid a lot of respect to the other candidates by attentively listening and had a much stronger presence. This has been a challenge for him and something he has improved.
  • Jackson – It was a pleasure to meet Al’s wife and kids. They looked like great kids helping their dad. You can see that Al’s family is very important to him. Al also distinguished himself talking about his work helping people get government off their back.
  • Sandstrom – I posed the question as to what legislation they would get rid of. Sandstrom gave the best answer talking about how he has already gotten rid of legislation in the legalization of selling raw honey.
  • Statton – I think that Rep. Stratton made it very clear that if public lands is by far your most important issue then he is your guy.  He was also the only guy with healthy snacks (apples).
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