SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah’s 2nd Congressional District candidates Celeste Maloy (R) and Kathleen Riebe (D) took the stage at the University of Utah on Thursday night for a debate before voters head to the polls on Nov. 21.
While the two naturally disagreed when it comes to several topics such as how to handle America’s housing crisis, what a federal spending bill would look like, and the crisis in Israel-Gaza, there was a common theme: Unity.
“I’ve worked on bipartisan issues before and I’ve done it in Congress, which is different than the way it works in Utah,” said Maloy. “I know how to talk to people who don’t have the same angle as I do but we all want the same thing. We all want a strong America. I think we all want Congress to do its job. I would be willing to work with Democrats, find common ground and work toward the common goals we all share as Americans instead of focusing on the things that divide us.”
“To come up with a hypothetical of who I would work with, I would work with anyone,” commented Riebe. “I was at school today watching kids run across the field and thinking about their lunch programs. I was watching the postal person deliver my mail. These are people who depend on our government to work for us and work with us. To think about who I would work with, I would work with anyone who would keep the government open.”
Both Maloy and Riebe agreed there is no price to pay when it comes to working in Congress and reaching across the aisle. Riebe said that’s the reason representatives are sent to Washington: to get the work done for the American public. Maloy agreed saying there is a lot Democrats and Republicans alike agree on and there needs to be a focus on those commonalities when working in the nation’s capital.
Of course, their approaches on how to achieve those common goals differed.
In the federal government, Riebe said a government shutdown would be “irresponsible” and something she would never support. Maloy, on the other hand, would be willing to shut down the government if it meant avoiding more federal spending in the budget.
A little closer to home, when asked about Utah’s ongoing housing woes, Maloy said inflation and energy reliance are the foundation of the problem.
“When energy prices are high, fuel prices are high,” Maloy said. “Fuel prices don’t just hurt people like me at the pump when we’re filling up, they also make the cost of shipping higher so the cost of houses keep going up and up because of the cost of materials keep going up and up.”
Meanwhile, Riebe said the federal government could do more to help those young families who are looking to break into the expensive world of homeownership.
“I think there is a way to provide grants for people who are trying to get into a home,” said Riebe. “If we’re not providing a situation where young families can get into a home to have that rock then we are creating a generation of instability.”
Still, the 2nd Congressional District which both candidates are vying to represent spans a great deal of Utah, stretching from Farmington to Tooele to St. George and Kanab. The diverse demographic of rural and urban, north and south can be a difficult one to fully represent. Both candidates, however, said they were one for the job.
Riebe pointed to her years in education and as a Senator in the Utah State Legislature. She said she was uniquely aware of needs across the district as parts of the state have reached out to her, explaining the specific needs such as the need for ambulances in small towns that can’t bond for them.
“I understand that each of these communities have very unique needs, but also that they have the same needs as well,” explained Riebe. “So, [that means] figuring out how to create a policy that meets everyone’s needs but also provides elasticity so they can put that policy into place perfectly for them.”
Maloy said her unique qualification comes from her time while serving outgoing Congressman Chris Stewart. Her work has already put her in touch with the people in Utah’s 2nd district.
“I’ve been talking to people all over the district and people consistently want to talk about inflation, spending, and government overreach,” said Maloy. “That may look a little bit different in Magna than it does in Monroe, but people have the same concerns. They’re the kitchen table concerns.”
Utah voters will have their say on who will fill out the remainder of Stewart’s term in the United States House of Representatives during a special election on Tuesday, Nov. 21.