Christensen Aims To Change
LaVar Christensen speaks to supporters, challenges Bush
By LAURIE FROST
ST. GEORGE - LaVar Christensen, Republican candidate for Congressional District No. 2, entertained questions - and his hopeful constituents-to-be - with a steady stream of anecdotes during a town hall meeting Thursday night.
What's more important, said Dean Cox, chairman of the Washington County Republican Party, is that Christensen would be solid in the House of Representatives.
"He isn't going to have to spit on his finger each morning to see which way the political wind is blowing in Washington, D.C.," Cox said.
Christensen took a firm stand on the issues - illegal immigration, Divine Strake, nuclear testing and government spending being some of the most anticipated - cushioning them with quotes and reminiscences from the Reagan administration.
"I want to practice Reagan Repulicanism," Christensen said. "It's not for sentimental or nostalgic reasons, it's that we've strayed from the conservative values we've enjoyed for so long and we want to get back to that. The Republican difference is really the difference in small government and lower taxes."
Christensen began by commenting on Utah's beauty, and how it was "in the hands of good people." As if to counter any self-congratulation in that statement, Christensen then jokingly added that he wasn't there to look good.
"I come to you pretty unadorned," he said. "God didn't make our joints so we could pat ourselves on the back."
Christensen then talked about his concern with people as people, not just constituents. To illustrate his willingness as a representative, Christensen recalled his involvement in the controversial Parker Jensen case. Jensen's parents opposed chemotherapy when Parker was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and Christensen agreed to be the family's attorney for free.
"When the media asked me if I was their attorney, I said, 'No, I'm their representative,'" Christensen said.
One of the ways Christensen proposes to help Washington County specifically was in an answer to the question of illegal immigration. While addressing this issue, Christensen even went so far as to compare illegal immigration to a leaky boat.
"If you're in a boat that's leaking, you need to plug the hole first and then worry about bailing the water out," he said. "We've got to stop the flow of illegal immigrants."
However, Christensen stressed how important it is to deal carefully and humanely with immigrants while still upholding the law.
"We have borders that are just like a sieve," Christensen said. "We're not a hard-hearted, bigoted or biased people. The Ellis Island legacy is alive and well, as is shown by our immigrant heritage, but you cannot reward illegal behavior."
Christensen emphasized his support for President Bush, but questioned some of his policies, especially the No Child Left Behind Act.
"I love President Bush and think he's a wonderful man, but I believe the No Child Left Behind Act was in violation of the 10th Amendment," Christensen said. "I don't see the justification for the federal government calling the shots in local PTAs."
Christensen also spoke out strongly against nuclear testing.
"As far as Divine Strake goes, we've stood our ground against nuclear testing," he said. "It's 'No, no and heck no' when it comes to dumping in Utah."
One of the issues Christensen addressed was how America was a nation under God.
"All around us, everywhere we look, we're on record as a people who believe in our Creator," Christensen said, following it with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Democratic party. "We can't let the liberal voices of today cause us to drift from our most sacred moorings."
Christensen found a warm welcome from his supporters in Washington County, especially after his work on Amendment 3 to the Utah state Constitution
"We're not just copyrighting the word 'marriage.' We want to preserve marriage and family life," Christensen said.
Christensen campaigned for Amendment 3 until it passed with a two-thirds majority in 2004.
"I met (Christensen) through Amendment 3," said Patsy Lamb, Dixie region campaign director for Christensen. "I headed that up in Washington County. So when he started campaigning, I told him I'd help him get to know the place. It's hook, line and sinker for me."
Other supporters, such as Bert Trabanino, want to support Christensen out of the principle of looking out for their own.
"I've been a Republican for a long time," Trabanino said. "I'm here because I want to help elect a Republican."
Christensen also appeared earlier in the day at the Washington County Republican Woman's luncheon.
He said he loves Washington County because of the base of support he receives every time he arrives.
"The best part of campaigning is getting out and meeting the people," Christensen said. "It is great to find out how you can help them and truly represent them in Congress."
Noma Clark, a member of the Washington County Republican Woman's organization, said she is actively working to get out the word to vote for Christensen.
"This our big chance to get rid of Jim Matheson," she said.
Reporter Stephanie Coots contributed to this story.
Originally published June 2, 2006