In Utah House race, Quinn and Miller present starkly different options
The two candidates for the Utah House of Representatives 54th district seat present two clearly branching paths for Park City voters in November.
Tim Quinn, the 55-year-old Heber Republican seeking a second term is a staunch fiscal conservative who has owned businesses for 28 years. Meaghan Miller, his 33-year-old Democratic challenger hailing from Park City, is seeking office for the first time, bringing a decade of work in health care policy and a desire to bring what she says would be a new outlook to the Legislature.
While both candidates have a stated — and demonstrated — interest in leveling the social playing field, that’s where the similarities end.
Women occupy only 15 out of 75 Utah House seats and compose only about 20 percent of Capitol Hill’s lawmakers as a whole. Miller, a millennial, wants to change that and bring a different perspective to the institution.
“Women need a stronger voice at the table because we are half the population,” Miller said. “I’m looking at problems through a different lens than (Quinn) has.”
Along with gender, Miller also sees a sharp contrast between her and Quinn when it comes to how they want to reach their shared goal of addressing inequality in Utah.
“He’s going at social equity from a perspective of money, I’m coming at social equity from the perspective of being a human,” Miller said. “His votes on legislation that directly affected women were not as progressive as I feel that they could have been.”
While Quinn cosponsored a bill mandating tightened regulations on breast cancer screenings last session, he also voted “yes” on an unsuccessful effort to prohibit abortions of fetuses found to have Down syndrome as well as a proposal — now law — to require women considering the procedure to view an “information module” discouraging it.
Another part of Miller’s platform emphasizes progressive health care policy. The candidate, who works at a Park City clinic that serves uninsured patients, says continuing Medicaid expansion is vital for Park City’s workforce and their families.
“There’s a really big gap, and we see it at the clinic, of people that make too much money for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance,” Miller said. “Health is a basic right. I mean, there’s no two ways around that and anyone that says, ‘Well, health is a right but people need to figure out how to pay for it,’ are people who can afford to pay for it.”
A business owner from Heber, Quinn occupies seats in multiple committees dealing with business and taxation and has sponsored a number of bills in that area of policy. He doesn’t see a need to reinvent the platform that got him elected in 2016.
Quinn credits conservative regulatory and tax policies with fostering a healthy economic environment in the state and wants to maintain that growth with a light touch.
“I want to make sure we don’t over-regulate businesses,” Quinn said.
In one case, though, Quinn went against conservative orthodoxy last session when he sponsored a bill that would have eliminated the state tax on groceries. The representative said his intent with the legislation, which made it through the Republican-dominated House before being voted down in the Senate, was to ease the financial burden on poorer families and the elderly.
Quinn also points to his relationship with Park City officials and representation of the area as a reason for voters to send him back to Salt Lake City. In one case, he led an effort in the House to defeat a bill that passed the Senate that would have prohibited cities from instituting bans on plastic bags. Liberal-leaning Park City is the only place in the state with such a rule.
“That bill would have passed had it not been for me,” Quinn said. “We crushed it 58-14 so it will not come back, so that it allows Park City to continue to govern themselves. Whether you agree with what the city did or didn’t do, it’s their right to do it and I believe in local control.”
Outside of his legislative career, Quinn says his experience with business and property ownership is an asset for someone who helps make decisions for the state.
“I’ve been a business owner for 28 years, I’ve had to make payroll, I’ve paid payroll taxes,” Quinn said. “I’ve owned eight homes; the point of that is to say I’ve paid property taxes on lots of properties. I understand the complexity of our tax laws, I understand the impact that property taxes have on a homeowner, especially young families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
Sprinting to November
With election season in full swing — Quinn having attended Midway’s Swiss Days parade along with Miller, who also began the march to Nov. 6 on Main Street during Miners Day — the candidates haven’t yet aired their platforms face-to-face aside from participating in a Park City town hall on gun violence earlier this year. They said, though, they’d welcome the chance.
The 2018 midterm elections take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Register to vote by visiting the lieutenant governor’s website at vote.utah.gov.
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.