HELPER, Utah (ABC4 News) – With the presidential election coming soon, people are thinking about their vote now. When in Carbon County, many sharing why they plan to vote and what they hope to see in the coming years.
Thousands of immigrants from 27 nationalities moved to mining camps near Helper in the early years of Utah’s beginnings.
“Atypical of a lot of your Utah towns,” said Jason Huntzinger, the director of the Western Mining and Railroad Museum. “It wasn’t a Mormon town, it was all these guys coming to work in the mines or work on the railroads to make a living.”
Huntzinger said mines began to open in the late 1800s. And up into the 1960s, the demand for coal was great, until the need declined, plaguing the industry.
“It’s boom and bust, so there’s been some peaks and valleys here, as we go,” Huntzinger said.
Father and son, Ryan and Kayden Lee said they plan to make their voice heard by voting this election season, as they hope to see growth in the economy, and for mines to stay open.
“I mean, a lot of our jobs is coal mines, like I said, around here,” Ryan Lee said. “We got a few mines, we got a lot of people that work at the mines and the power plants. We need them to stay open for as long as we can.”
Ryan Lee has lived in Helper his whole life. He said he’s heard of coal mines shutting down throughout the years, impacting people’s livelihood.
“There’s been a lot of coal mines around here close down over the years, that’s changed. Jobs going up and down, coal market going up and down,” Ryan Lee said.
He said he’s hopeful for the future.
“Trump all the way. We need our mines. We gotta keep em going,” Ryan Lee said. “You ain’t gonna get enough power without the mines.”
Kayden Lee will vote in his first presidential election this fall. He believes it’s important to vote.
“If we can get as many people to vote in this economy as possible, we could get it to where it lasts at least four more years,” Kayden Lee said. “We could build up to something better.”
On Helper Main Street, Cindi Curry owns Happiness Within Coffee Shop and said her grandfather was a coal miner.
“It’s sad to see that part of history going away,” Curry said.
With Skyline being the last open mine in Carbon County according to Huntzinger, Curry said the community is working to adapt to the changes, bringing in artists and restaurants to help revive the city and some of its economy.
“But we need to adapt, and we need to figure out where we go from here,” Curry said.
Unsure of how the 2020 presidential election could impact her community, she said she hopes for happiness, rather than contention.
“I want to see people happy. I want to see kindness, I want to see all that brought back,” Curry said. “I don’t like all the hate in the world right now.”
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