Kevin Van Tassell (R) – Utah Senate District 26
Kevin Van Tassell (Republican)
Utah Senate District 26
Question 1: What are your qualifications to run for a seat in the state Senate and why do you want to serve?
As the incumbent candidate, I have enjoyed serving in a part-time legislature. One strength of a part-time legislature is that people from a variety of backgrounds and professions have the opportunity to serve, and we bring to our legislative seat the viewpoints of our everyday lives. My work in banking, finance, and economic development gives me insight and expertise in addressing creative and fiscally sound ways the challenges and opportunities of building a robust and stable Utah economy. Further, my professional background has afforded me the opportunity on local, regional and state levels the opportunity to assist the individual entrepreneur, the family business, major industries and international business.
Finally, my professional life and my legislative work give me unique insight and access to the full range of the state’s portfolio: retail, agriculture, technology development, travel and tourism, extraction, manufacturing, transportation, professional services, public lands, education, health and human services. I have been able to work with and help enhance these areas and represent the distinct and unique view of our district.
Question 2: The state is actively trying to reinstate its ban on same-sex marriage. Where do you stand on this issue?
This is where we are, legally, on this issue: Utah voters approved the ballot referendum on Utah Constitutional Amendment 3 in 2004, by a 65.8 to 33.2 percent margin, that defines marriage and restricts unmarried civil unions. Same-sex marriage in Utah became temporarily legal Dec. 20, 2013. The United States Supreme Court stayed the ruling on Jan. 6, 2014. On June 25, 2014, rulings were subsequently upheld and then stayed by the Tenth Circuit Court.
Same-sex marriages that were performed in the state are recognized by the federal government, but a ruling requiring the state of Utah to recognize such marriages was stayed by the United States Supreme Court on July 18, 2014. The people of Utah have voted on this and the courts will now determine an outcome. We will follow the process and ultimately follow the law.
Question 3: Recently, there have been clashes over the use of public lands, with some saying the federal government has overstepped its powers. How do you feel about those complaints and should the state pursue efforts to take back lands currently under federal jurisdiction.
The key to managing our public land, whoever owns them, is forging partnerships and open and consistent dialog with key stakeholders. We should not pursue any course of action that would create unintended consequences or burdens on the State of Utah and its people. I firmly believe that there is a multi-use opportunity and policy that can be enacted to allow for wilderness, industry, agriculture and recreation to co-exist and to thrive. To do anything less than that is to severely restrict our economic growth and competitive advantage. Wilderness, industrial, agricultural and recreational use must be in balance. More recreational land doesn’t necessarily mean more tourists will come, as tourists are tied to personal, discretionary income. Too much industry restricts recreation and agriculture. I am confident that there are ways that each of these areas can help each other. I am confident we can make multi-use work, and we must.
Question 4: Is the state legislature doing as much as it can to fund education? If not what specific policy would you propose to increase funding for schools.
Yes! The Legislature, given the set of circumstances presented to it in any given session, does as much as it can — on balance — to fund education. I have spoken with many in education who feel that the Legislature has worked hard to fund education in the best way possible. We all work hard for education. Are we doing as much as we WANT? No.
Do we need new policy? I’m not sure we do. I say that because we have good policy in place that needs to be acted upon and aggressively pursued. One example is that we have a robust State Institutional Trust Lands portfolio and policies to guide us. We need to work with SITLA to strategically and responsibly develop that portfolio so that the revenues can then be applied to our education budget. SITLA has made great strides; I think we can help them do even better.
Question 5: The legislature has the power to incentivize or discourage various types of energy production. How do you feel about current state policies regarding oil and gas production versus the development of alternative energy resources.
Energy production, in all its forms, is a foundational and critical component of our overall economic well-being in the state. Access to low-cost energy is a dynamic attractor for our state. Energy industries and entrepreneurs, in all areas of energy development, must innovate in order to survive. They are always racing to create the latest and greatest technology that will bring us sustainable, affordable energy. The marketplace provides incentives for them. The role of the state, by policy and practice, should to support those industries and provide appropriate incentives once they have proven their viability and are here in the state contributing to our economy and quality of life. When state government attempts to provide incentives and subsidies on the front end, we potentially end up in a situation of trying to pick "winners and losers."
Question 6: Please differentiate your platform from your opponent’s.
My roots run deep in the State of Utah. District 26 has been my home for a very long time and I’ve lived with all of the issues that face us firsthand and in depth. The scope of my experience and the way I approach the broad range of issues has been informed by the long-standing, deep relationships I have formed with individuals, local businesses, professional service providers, state and federal leaders, and educators. I know District 26 more intimately than anyone on the ballot. I also feel that my business experience and knowledge bring unique and valuable perspectives on the issues and on the ways in which I can work within a legislative system to creatively and responsibly address those issues.
Applying sound business practices and decision making to the process of governance and government is a unique skill-set, forged in my career as a businessman in banking and finance. Being the incumbent also brings significant leverage. I have learned how the system works and I have formed the necessary relationships, coalitions, and alliances to continue to get the job done. I won’t be starting from scratch on any of issues or opportunities ahead of us in District 26.
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