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Candidates Argue Boundary Lines, Public Lands At 2nd District Debate

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Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune Pool Photo
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Sparks flew as candidates for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District squared off in a debate Tuesday night at KUED in Salt Lake City.

The candidates resorted to personal attacks throughout the debate. Democrat Charlene Albarran attacked Republican Representative Chris Stewart for his voting record and said he hasn’t done much in Congress.

Stewart questioned whether Albarran was being honest about her residence within the district’s boundaries. After filing for candidacy in March, Albarran initially said she lived in Park City, which falls in Utah’s 1st Congressional District. She now says she rents an apartment in Salt Lake City, but during the debate she maintained that a small part of Park City lies within the boundaries of the 2nd District.

“You’re just wrong,” Stewart said at one point. “There’s no part of Park City in the 2nd District.”

“Yeah there is,” Albarran retorted. “Yeah there is.”

“I just want you to be honest,” Stewart said. “I’m always honest,” replied Albarran, “I don’t know about you.”

District maps confirm that  Park City is in District 1. But members of Utah’s congressional delegation have in the past lived out the district they have represented.  Between 2012 and 2014, Democrat Jim Matheson lived in the 2nd District while he represented the 4th District.

In between all of the verbal sparring, Albarran and Stewart debated issues, including the fight over public lands and what should happen with Bears Ears. 

“The most important unprotected land right now is in our state,” Albarran said. “In Bears Ears. I do support that we should declare it a national monument, protect those sacred burial grounds, protect our artifacts, protect the history.”

Stewart said the land should be preserved, but not through a national monument designation by President Obama. He supports the Public Lands Initiative put forth by Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz.

“That’s the right answer,” Stewart said. “Not one man in Washington DC who’s been to Utah maybe three times in his life saying, ‘This is how we’re going to do it.’”

The candidates also talked about finding a balance between religious freedom and LGBT rights, how Congress can improve race relations and how to control the national debt.

Election day is November 8.

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