Frank Demcy Mylar, Derek Brown, Trent E. Christensen and Rachel Terry took the stage Thursday night at the Utah Young Republicans’ forum.

It wasn’t a debate that took place that evening at Holladay City Hall, it was a discussion. Candidates had two minutes each to answer four questions and an additional two minutes at the end of the night to pitch themselves to a room full of state and county delegates, as well as members of Utah Young Republicans. Personal attacks on other candidates were discouraged.

Keimon Dixson, the national committeeman of Utah’s chapter of Young Republicans, moderated the forum. The four Republican candidates are running against Austin Hepworth (unaffiliated), W. Andrew McCullough (Libertarian), Michelle Quist (United Utah), Rudy J. Bautista (Democratic) and David Carlson (Democratic).

What is the role of the attorney general?

Dixson asked, “For anyone who may not understand the role of attorney general, please explain what the role means to you, and additionally, why are you uniquely prepared to serve in that role?” Please note that candidates’ answers appear in the order they were given at the forum.

Mylar: Starting off his answer, Mylar cited his 12 years of experience working in the attorney general’s office as well as his experience defending sheriffs. He said the role of the attorney general is to be the citizen’s attorney — “we are the ones to save our constitutional rights. I’ve been doing that in my private practice on numerous occasions.”

Additionally, Mylar said he would ensure that the attorney general opinions were constitutionally sound and that the office was managed correctly.

Brown: Brown boiled down the office to three main components: understanding the legal system, knowing how state and federal government work and running an organization. He said he’s worked in two large law firms, navigated the world of Washington, D.C., served as a state representative and clerked for a federal judge.

“I think that those three skills are kind of paramount for what this position is,” he said, adding the attorney general is “setting a vision for the state.”

Christensen: “The attorney general is the single most important check against every other branch and officer of government that you the people have,” Christensen said, adding that he believes the attorney general should push back on the Biden administration.

Saying that he would bring litigation experience and CEO experience to the office, Christensen said he would check the power of the government if elected.

Republican Utah attorney general candidates Frank Mylar, Derek Brown, Trent Christensen and Rachel Terry speak to attendees at the Holladay City Hall in Holladay on Thursday, April 4, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Terry: Pointing to her work handling civil rights litigation in the Utah attorney general’s office as well as what she does as director of the Utah Division of Risk Management, Terry said the work she does is similar to what the attorney general would be doing.

“What I’m offering to you is someone who knows how heavy this work is, how dark these cases can be,” Terry said. “And I’m still optimistic and energetic.”

The other questions

Dixson also asked the candidates what they would keep from current Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ approach and what they would change, how the candidates feel about term limits and what they think the most pressing issue Utah faces is.

All candidates said they would only serve two terms if elected. Here’s a look at their other answers to those questions.

Terry:

  • Terry said she would expand the division that works on prosecuting child pornography and online child exploitation.
  • If elected, Terry said she wants to build relationships with county commissioners and sheriffs to give them tools and resources. Pointing to her endorsement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, she said she would foster relationships with other state attorneys general.
  • Terry said she believes the attorney general’s office needs to be more transparent and that Utah faces significant issues with public lands and immigration issues. She said she would do more to support the state’s sheriffs.

Mylar:

  • Mylar said he would change the way the office treats victims and also work to properly prosecute sexual assault cases.
  • If elected, Mylar said he would write cleaner attorney general opinions and lead out in a different way. Pointing toward his work to get people in the state religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine, he said he would continue the kind of work he is already doing.
  • Mylar also spoke about the border and said, “One of the things that I would do is work with the legislature to make it a felony to bring anyone that’s illegal into this state.” He also said, “any law that allows ... anyone in a women’s bathroom or in women’s sports is actually violating their constitutional rights.”

Christensen:

  • Christensen praised Reyes’ approach to digital passports and ESG as well as the creation of a division to fight sex trafficking.
  • If elected, Christensen said he would show his calendar. He also added that he would stop the legislative audit “in its cradle” because he sees it as politically motivated.
  • Additionally, Christensen said he would do a statewide audit of the electoral system and that “we have an utter lack of election integrity in this state.” He also said would be an ally to Donald Trump if he is elected. He also added that he wants to fight illegal immigration.

Brown:

  • Brown praised Reyes’ approach to federal overreach. Citing his experience working for Sen. Mike Lee, Brown said he would push back on federal overreach, especially when it comes to land.
  • Brown said after the audit of the attorney general’s office is completed, he would look at implementing those changes.
  • Additionally, Brown was critical of the power he says unelected bureaucrats have in the country. He gave the EPA as an example, pointing toward its tailpipe regulations, and said this was an example of the agency overusing its authority.

Closing statements

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The candidates made their closing statements at the end of the night. Mylar emphasized that he’s been “in the trenches filing civil rights suits” and that he is aligned with the organization Alliance Defending Freedom. “I’m an honor guard attorney because I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours vindicating constitutional rights without charging my clients a dime.”

Brown said some issues won’t be solved in Congress, they’ll be solved in the courts. Quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, Brown said he’s running for attorney general “because we need an attorney general who recognizes Utah is a separate and independent sovereign. And it’s time we start acting like it.”

Christensen again emphasized his position on elections. He said he would go to the county clerks and say he wants to see the ballots and the machines. As attorney general, Christensen said he would support the sheriffs so they can enforce laws around illegal immigration.

Terry said she’s an experienced attorney who has taken on cases related to federal overreach as well as constitutional cases. “I’m an expert on Title IX in the state of Utah. I have done the work. I’ve carried that load and I do it every single day,” she said.

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