Whether Utah Representative Mel Brown (R-Coalville) is the best person to speak for District 53 is up to voters, but the veteran legislator who ran unopposed in 2012 needs to be challenged. Having an opponent would force Brown to explain his past positions and articulate his vision for the future, something he managed to avoid two years ago.
Brown represents a diverse district, and the majority of his constituents may not share the same priorities as those in Summit County. But a growing number of them may and, regardless, he at least owes them his ear. In 2010 Brown declined several invitations to outline his platform in The Park Record and he has held few if any town meetings in the western section of his district which includes a large swath of the Snyderville Basin.
Thanks to the redistricting that took place after the 2010 Census District 53 was redrawn with new political boundaries, a process that many described as outright gerrymandering. Park City was removed from District 53 and handed over to District 54, currently represented by Kraig Powell (R-Heber). But many of the neighborhoods that traditionally align themselves with Park City were divvied between Dist. 53 (portions of Pinebrook, Park West, Silver Springs, Jeremy Ranch, Moose Hollow, Snyders Mill and Promontory) and District 28 (parts of Summit Park and Pinebrook). The result is an isolated peninsula of Snyderville residents who are now grouped with voters in Morgan, Rich, Daggett, Duchesne counties.
Brown, who is 75, has served off and on in the Legislature since 1987. In a recent interview he listed water rights, state sovereignty and private property as his priorities. He did not mention strengthening environmental regulations, relaxing the state's archaic liquor laws, campaign finance reform or support for alternative energy.
As a Republican party stalwart and a member of the influential Natural Resources, Agriculture, Environment and Revenue and Taxation committees, some would say that Summit County is well served by the veteran legislator. Others, though, would like to see a candidate with fresh perspectives, willing to take on issues of importance to a broader spectrum of constituents.
We would at least like a chance to have that debate. But that requires finding a citizen who is willing to take on an entrenched majority party politician.
There isn't much time. The filing window to run for a seat in the Utah House or one of the Senate seats up for election this year runs from 8 a.m. this Friday, March 14, through 5 p.m. Thursday, March 20 (excluding Saturday and Sunday). Interested candidates must live in the district they hope to represent.
To learn which political districts you live in go to: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp