House District 28 race pits prominent Democrat against political newcomer
For the first time since 2012, voters will choose who represents them in the state Legislature’s House District 28.
Political newcomer Carol Hunter, a Republican from Salt Lake City, is mounting a campaign against incumbent Rep. Brian King, the House minority leader and one of the most prominent Democrats in the Statehouse.
King, who is vying for his seventh term, did not face a general election opponent in the previous three election cycles. That, Hunter said, is precisely why she decided to run, declaring her candidacy on the final day of the filing window in the spring when no other Republicans had entered the race.
“That just is wrong,” she said of King going unchallenged in recent elections. “You have to be reminded that you work for people. And if you don’t have a competitor, it’s hard to get that reminder.”
For his part, King said he is running again to push a progressive agenda in the largely Republican Legislature. He added that representing the slice of Summit County that is in District 28 — Summit Park and a part of Pinebrook — is important to him as the lone Democrat among left-leaning Summit County’s Statehouse delegation.
“I don’t represent a huge part of (the county), but I think it’s very important for Summit to have the voice of the Legislature that is not just coming through the Republicans but is coming through a Democrat,” he said.
Hunter, a consulting engineer and former vice president at Rocky Mountain Power, identified environmental responsibility as a key plank of her platform. She said she oversaw energy-efficiency programs during more than three decades at Rocky Mountain Power and aims on Capitol Hill to bring “the science and the economics to the table” to address air quality and promote clean modes of transportation. She added that her background gives her the skills to make progress on environmental issues.
“One thing you learn really quick is building consensus,” she said. “If you can’t get consensus real quick, stuff doesn’t get done and, ultimately, either the economy suffers or people suffer. That’s true in the utility business, and I also think it’s true in the business of government.”
King, too, highlighted issues like clean water, clean air and protecting public lands. He also intends to continue to promote gun control legislation, as he has in recent legislative sessions, though with little success.
“The only way that we’re going to make progress on gun violence is if we have people stepping up and saying, ‘This is a priority’ and they start voting in a way that reflects those priorities,” he said. “In other words, you have to have candidates who are concerned that if they don’t address gun violence, they’re not going to get the vote of people and are going to lose elections.”
The candidates, meanwhile, have differing views about the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. King praised Gov. Gary Herbert’s overall leadership but characterized his unwillingness to enact a statewide mask mandate as “inexplicable.”
He added that state officials should not view steps to fight the pandemic as a choice between public health and the economy.
“That’s a false choice,” he said. “Any public servant or candidate who talks about this in that way should not get anybody’s vote because it misunderstands a fundamental truth, which is that our economy is going to reopen successfully only to the degree that the virus is contained.”
Hunter said she wears a mask in public but has mixed feelings about a statewide mandate, indicating that she has “great faith in Utahns that they will do the right thing.”
“I personally have a personal mandate to wear a mask and to socially distance,” she said. “And I would pray that everybody has that. But do I criticize the governor for not making a mandate? I don’t know. I go both directions on that.”
The November election will be conducted primarily through mail-in balloting. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 23, with ballots slated to be mailed to registered voters three weeks before Election Day Nov. 3. For more information, visit the Summit County Clerk’s website at summitcounty.org/281/Voter-Registration-Elections.
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