A Wanship man has illegal immigrants in his cross hairs as he looks to unseat a powerful House Republican in the primary election on June 22.
Riding a wave of anti-Washington fervor, political newcomer Jon Hellander had support from backers of the Tea Party when he nearly ousted state Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, at the convention in May. The two Republicans are facing off in state House District 53 for the opportunity to face Park City Democrat Glenn Wright on Election Day. District 53 includes areas of Summit, Wasatch, Morgan, Daggett and Rich counties.
With state lawmakers poised to debate immigration next year, Hellander said he supports a new law in Arizona, which requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question someone’s immigration status if they suspect the person is in the United States illegally.
"What we’re doing is we’re enforcing the laws," Hellander said.
He said he would vote for similar legislation in Utah.
"We’re a law-abiding country. We should expect that when laws are written that they are obeyed," Hellander said. "I’d love to be able to say this state is a very difficult state to come to if you are illegal."
Meanwhile, many of his supporters say they are tired of being ignored by their political leaders.
"People want to have their voices heard. Especially in light of how everything has been going in the country," Hellander said.
Voters this year have placed targets on the backs of incumbents.
"More than anything, I really believe that people don’t believe that the problems that we’re having right now happened just in this last term," Hellander said. "To be an incumbent is kind of a strike against them because they have had several years to be doing things for the betterment of the country."
This is the first time Hellander has campaigned for political office. If elected, he pledged to oppose "ridiculous" tax increases.
Hellander criticized Brown for voting last year to increase taxes on tobacco products sold in Utah.
"To raise taxes for a sin tax, a tobacco tax, it’s ridiculous," Hellander said. "It was a waste of money. It was a waste of time. It was a waste of legislation. You cannot expect one group of people to bear the burden for taxes that need to be distributed equally. You just can’t."
Hellander scoffed at notions that he lacks the qualifications needed to be a legislator.
"This is an enormous responsibility for me to represent the thousands and thousands of people in all five of the counties that are in our district," Hellander said.
Lawmakers have threatened to take funding from schools in Summit County to redistribute to poorer districts throughout the state. Hellander promised to fight efforts to further equalize school funding.
"I don’t support equalization at all," Hellander said. "Capital equalization is redistribution of wealth, and the money that is generated in Park City should stay in Park City."
Hellander also supports charter schools for providing parents a choice for public education.
"What I support is healthy competition. And if that means a charter school, absolutely," Hellander said. "I think the idea of bringing people to a new level of accountability is what we need to do in all aspects, in politics, government and in public education."
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