Democrat: economic ‘disintegration’ looms | ParkRecord.com

Democrat: economic ‘disintegration’ looms

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Democratic challenger for the congressional seat representing Summit County Monday accused the incumbent Republican of casting votes favorable to campaign donors and maintained reforms are needed in Washington.

Morgan Bowen did not provide details as he criticized Rob Bishop, the congressman he is trying to unseat, during remarks to a crowd at North Summit High School in Coalville

Bowen’s comments came as he discussed Washington’s commitment to the troubled financial industry, saying the country is on the "brink of a major disintegration of the economic system."

"I don’t think anybody in this room has received a dime of the bailout," Bowen said to a crowd of about 60 people, many appearing to be in attendance to listen to the Summit County Council candidates who also addressed the crowd.

Bowen, who is a seminary teacher for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an agricultural consultant, said Congress needs to be reformed before there can be changes to the country.

Bishop did not attend the Coalville event, and he did not send someone to speak on his behalf.

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Joe Buchman, a Libertarian from Summit Park who is running a long-shot campaign against Bishop and Bowen, disagreed with the bailout of the financial industry as well. He said he is worried about the national debt, which he labeled "unconscionable," said he wants whistleblowers protected and said Americans have relinquished rights to the federal government.

He charged there is little difference between Republican and Democratic politicians once they are elected.

The congressional candidates have not spent extensive time campaigning in Summit County, where a tiny portion of the population of the district resides. Democratic candidates typically post strong showings in Summit County, but the Republican returns elsewhere in the district normally put the GOP candidate into office.

The Coalville event on Monday night drew Statehouse candidates as well, with the Republican and Democrat seeking the District 53 seat in the state House of Representatives facing each other in the latest in a series of candidate events.

Mel Brown, the incumbent Republican, and Kathy Lofft, his Democratic challenger, told the crowd about their divergent upbringings — Brown was born and raised in Summit County and graduated from North Summit High School while Lofft was brought up in rural New Hampshire — and discussed their platforms. The two offer party-line stands on many issues, and their stump speeches have not changed radically in recent weeks.

Brown said school funding is important, but he acknowledged the number of schoolchildren in Utah remains a challenge. He said state schools are not "broken." Meanwhile, he spoke about protecting the rights of landowners and the value of property. He said he wants District 53 to remain Republican, which he said would keep it with the majority party at the Statehouse.

Lofft said she has empathy for people who must decide whether to keep land they have had for years as development approaches, she said she supports public schools and she said the concentration of power by the Republicans in Utah is "problematic," claiming the majority party’s redrawing of legislative district has been poorly done.

They each said they oppose private-school vouchers, a controversial funding measure that would provide tax incentives to people whose children are enrolled in private schools.

Allen Christensen, the Republican state senator from North Ogden who represents the East Side of Summit County, said he initially supported vouchers, but he no longer does. He said voters turned down vouchers, influencing his stand. Christensen’s Democratic opponent, Ogden resident Bill Hansen, did not attend.

The three Statehouse candidates briefly addressed family farms, with Brown saying they need to be protected with tax policies, Lofft praising locally grown produce and Christensen urging the government to not interfere with farmers.

Christensen, in a brief address to the crowd, said he is proud of his political party, spoke about his support of gun rights and said the state budget will be pivotal in the 2009 session of the Legislature. Christensen admitted the Summit County territory in his district is too far from North Ogden for him to effectively serve his constituents in North Summit.

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