Abortion: party-line answers
The candidates competing for a local Statehouse seat gave party-line answers to an unexpected question about abortion rights during a Thursday night forum in Oakley, with the Democratic candidate also saying there are more pressing issues that Utah faces.
Kathy Lofft, the Democrat challenging for the District 53 seat in the state House of Representatives, told a crowd of about 50 people at Cattlemen’s Hall disputes about abortion rights should be handled on the federal level, not at the Statehouse.
Lofft, who is pro-choice, said it would not be a prudent use of state resources for legislators to challenge the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. She said the economy is a more important issue for the Statehouse.
Mel Brown, the incumbent Republican, said he is a pro-life candidate, but he did not delve into the details of his anti-abortion stand.
An audience member broached the topic, forcing the two candidates to address the polarizing issues in a public setting. Abortion has not been an issue in this year’s Statehouse campaign between Brown and Lofft, and the topic has not been a key platform plank in local legislative campaigns for at least a decade.
The question appeared to arise from political chatter that Republican legislators could address abortion in 2009.
The Brown-Lofft appearance came as part of a candidate night that also featured Summit County Council hopefuls, and it was the most recent in a series of joint appearances by Brown and Lofft.
The two candidates have been cordial to each other during the functions, with neither attacking the other. The 53rd District encompasses Park City, the East Side of Summit County and parts of outlying counties.
The seat has long been held by Republicans, with the GOP candidate usually amassing enough votes in the rural areas of the district to counter the Democratic showing in Park City.
Brown spoke about his upbringing in Summit County, said the state budget will be a pivotal issue during the 2009 legislative session and said state leaders must maintain government services and education as well as accommodate growth.
He briefly spoke about EnergySolutions, the nuclear waste company that has donated to his campaign, saying the relationship between himself and the company is "absolutely nothing." He did not request the donation, but he accepted the money from the firm.
Lofft honored her husband, saying he is campaigning harder than she, said she has a "history of hard work" and said change is needed at the Statehouse because too many legislators do not respond to regular Utahns.
Lofft, meanwhile, acknowledged what she could accomplish is limited if she wins on Election Day because Republicans dominate the Legislature.
She claimed lawmakers in the early part of the decade redrew the 53rd District lines to keep the seat reliably Republican, a complaint of Democrats since then. Lofft said she wants to reform ethics and campaign-finance rules.
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Starting Friday, fires and charcoal grilling will only be allowed in improved fire pits or grills on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.