It takes two to have a debate, and it takes one to talk about his campaign.
Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes took the stage by himself without his challenger, Jon Harper, former Democratic attorney general candidate, in the Eccles Fine Arts Center at Dixie State University Sept. 21.
Harper canceled the debate and dropped out of the attorney general election due to medical reasons.
Even though Harper cancelled, the Utah Debate Committee’s policy states debates must go on.
As a public servant, Reyes said he promised to be a true lawyer for the people and wants to engage with millennials and regain their trust and interest in the government.
“If students feel like public officials care, it doesn’t matter what position [officials] hold; it will help [students] get more interested in politics,” Reyes said.
Reyes said the biggest issues millennials face are illicit drugs, pornography and voter apathy.
“These are not hard street criminals we are talking about,” Reyes said. “These are our kids, soccer moms, people that we meet, our neighbors (and) church [goers],” Reyes said. “We can’t incarcerate our way out of this issue.”
There is not enough room in prisons, and putting people there only exacerbates the problem by denying them the help they need to become reintegrated with society, Reyes said.
Diversionary programs, or programs that allow first-time offenders to avoid criminal charges, are better solutions that allows for punishment and accountability but give first-time offenders opportunities to become productive members of society, he said.
“We have to understand the human side of the equation,” Reyes said. “[People] need a chance for reintegration.”
Reyes said his administration has opened rehabilitative programs and championed for criminal justice reform, but resources are underfunded. Reyes said these programs need continued support from law enforcement, the business community and government.
Reyes said pornography was the gateway for most of the people he has prosecuted for human trafficking, sexual abuse and rape.
“The need or desire to get a fix becomes greater and greater and can lead to darker perversions,” he said.
Reyes said his administration takes an aggressive stance on pornography and works with a number of technology companies to investigate and prosecute online crimes like child pornography.
Reyes said he wants millennials to know every vote matters.
“Your generation has an incredible opportunity to impact the world in a way no generation has before through social media alone,” Reyes said, speaking directly to students.
Reyes said there are a lot of distractions for millennials but wants to inspire them to be proactive by joining a campaign, applying for an internship, or getting involved with the community.
He said he can enlighten and educate millennials to get them more involved with politics by hosting TEDx talks at universities and interacting with millennials at Comic Con and E3 Entertainment Software Association.
“I hope to be one to bridge that and make politics more accessible and relatable,” Reyes said.
DSU President Biff Williams said he was hopeful for an actual debate, but thought the event was a valuable opportunity.
“Events like these are great active learning experiences,” Williams said. “[The debate] helped students learn about the issues and let’s them critically think and formulate an opinion about who they would vote for.”
Nicole Gregory, a junior history major from St. George and College Democrats Club president, said Reyes had some good points, but he still does not have her vote.
She said she would research the Libertarian candidate and the independent candidate, but if neither of them support her opinion, she will opt out to vote.
“I just don’t believe Sean Reyes is going to support what I support and will protect all my rights and my family’s rights in the end,” Gregory said.
She said it is important for students to come to these events and educate themselves about who they should vote for and more importantly, why students are voting for that person.
“I spoke with the candidate, I made my voice heard about the issues, and I know I am supporting a candidate who is going to stand for what I stand for and will support what I support,” Gregory said.