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Libertarian clashes with moderator

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Libertarian Gary Shumway, the outsider candidate for a spot in the state House of Representatives, clashed with the moderator of a forum in Coalville Wednesday night, demanding that the audience be able to ask their own questions to the candidates.

Shumway’s challenge of the format enlivened an otherwise staid discussion between some of the candidates seeking to represent parts of Summit County at the Statehouse. Other candidates included those seeking Summit County and School Board posts.

Shumway said he was unhappy that the debate organizers required that audience members write down questions on cards and give them to the organizers instead of directing the questions to the candidates. He said big issues were not covered and he briefly sparred with the moderator, Spencer Gibbons, from the Utah Farm Bureau.

"Let me finish this last paragraph," Shumway demanded when the moderator told him to stop talking because of a time limit to answers.

After the debate, Shumway said people could abuse the format, perhaps, he said, with planted questions. He did not allege malfeasance by the bureau, however.

Gibbons said in an interview that audience members filled out cards with their questions and then he decided whether the questions would be asked. Gibbons said many questions on the cards were determined to be personal and were not asked to the candidates. He refused to provide details of the questions that were withheld.

Shumway is challenging Republican Mel Brown and Democrat Laura Bonham in the contest for the 53rd District seat in the House. David Ure, a Kamas Republican, currently holds the seat but did not seek re-election in favor of an unsuccessful bid for the state Senate.

Brown, who once was the speaker of the House, is expected to easily defeat Bonham and Shumway.

The Wednesday forum, held at North Summit High School in front of an audience of about 125 people, did not feature additional fireworks and instead provided the candidates the opportunity to give stump speeches and answer a few questions from the people at the event.

The three agreed that they would protect people’s rights regarding property, seemingly a reference to the potential of development-related bills that the Legislature might consider. In 2006, the Legislature briefly debated a pivotal land-rights bill that eventually fizzled. It would have further limited a local government’s ability to regulate developments.

"Everybody likes to own a piece of this good Earth," Brown said, adding that landowners should be compensated if a government must condemn their land.

Bonham and Shumway said they agreed with Brown’s assessment.

Bonham said education funding and growth are important issues in the district and she pledged to work with Republicans if she is elected. Brown said people ask him how he would make the district a better place to live and said that smart people should be encouraged to become teachers. Shumway said education and immigration are key planks in his platform, saying that he prefers that America’s borders are secured.

Brown touted his previous tenure in the Legislature and said he would represent both the urban and rural areas of the district. Bonham said her election would bring diversity to the Legislature and that she understands business and agriculture, saying that she wants to partner farmers with those promoting economic development to make farming and ranching more profitable.

Shumway claimed that the major parties do not represent people in the district, said he wants fewer taxes and explained that he does not bring "political baggage" to the campaign, an apparent reference to ethical questions Brown faced during his previous tenure in the House.

The district spreads over a wide swath of northeastern Utah, including Summit, Rich, Morgan, Wasatch and Daggett counties. Bonham and Shumway are expected to see their best returns in Summit County and Brown will likely win overwhelmingly in most of the rest of the district.


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