Mel Brown | ParkRecord.com
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Mel Brown

PR

Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.

My background gives me the advantage over my opponents. I ve lived or worked in Summit County most of my life. I understand the issues that are important to the people of this district. I ve lived in urban and rural Utah. I know it takes an effective leader to address all concerns. I know what it takes to maintain the quality of lifestyle that we all enjoy. I understand the customs and cultures of the people in this district and the changes over the years that have made Summit County a desirable place to live. My opponent has criticized me for being part of the good ole’ boys club but reality is the majority caucus in Utah sets the laws that we live by. Summit County needs a person who can be a voice and not an outsider looking in. There are a lot of good solid Democrats at the legislature, but they have very little, if any, ability to make decisions. From the day I arrive at Capitol Hill I will be part of the decision-making. Summit County and the people of District 53 need a strong voice that gives them proper representation. It would be an honor to serve.

1. The Legislature has considered loosening its development rules, most notably in a bill that stalled in the 2006 session. Please describe the fairness of the state’s rules regulating developers. Please describe one change to the rules you support and, if there are none, discuss why the rules, in your opinion, are adequate.

I have always supported the rights of private property owners and I support the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding taking without just compensation. The SB 170 proposed last legislative session has some good points, which I would support. 1) The concept that would prohibit counties or municipalities from imposing stricter land-use requirements or higher land-use standards than required under statute. We need consistency and standardization of these codes. It also prevents local subdivisions from pre-empting state law. 2) I support the concept that prohibits counties and municipalities from giving property a zoning designation that materially diminishes the reasonable investments-backed expectation of the owner or deprives the owner of all economically viable uses of his property. These two items are consistent with my opening statement. My opinion is that some revision of the development code would be good but not as radical as SB 170 in general.

2. Utah’s tourism industry is critical to the economy of Summit County, employing scores of people and generating lots of the area’s taxes. Please outline your opinion of the Statehouse’s role in promoting tourism. Please discuss one new program you would support that would boost tourism in Summit County.

I understand the economic engine that the tourism industry provides for both the state and Summit County. The results of which have been demonstrated by the Olympics and post-Olympics. I have served on the board of directors for the Utah Athletic Foundation since its creation. This entity manages the Utah Olympic Park. The state has a very important role to play in promoting tourism through the community and economic development arm of state government. The state should be given the resources to sell Utah, its opportunities and natural resources to the world. This in turn will benefit the county. I would support changes in state law that would direct already existing tax revenues to better fund tourism.

3. Even after changes to the state’s liquor laws, people in the entertainment industry remain unhappy with what they see as a restrictive and confusing set of rules. Are the liquor laws adequate and do they accomplish their goals? Please discuss one change that you would support.

In my opinion the state liquor laws are adequate and do not need significant change. However, we need to simplify the existing laws to make them easier for visitors and citizens to understand and so that they are applied consistently in every jurisdiction of the state.

4. The Statehouse continues to have difficulty shedding an image of shortchanging Utah students. Is that a fair assessment of the amount of money that is budgeted for education? Please discuss one idea to ensure that the state’s schools are funded adequately.

It will be very difficult to shed that image as long as the family size and the child to adult population ranks the highest in the nation. Utah ranks 50th in funding per pupil and at the same time ranks 1st in the percent of every dollar that is spent on education. With a crisis looming ahead regarding a major teacher shortage, and an ever increase of student population, we must increase the states funding for education. In order to accomplish this we must be able to think outside the box and develop new sources of revenue that do not place a greater burden on our citizens. In 1994, I led such a movement when we organized the School and Institutional Trust Land Administration. This contributes funding to the local needs of education. Perhaps with the energy boom expected we could look to that as a new source of education funding.

5. Lots of Summit County s traffic problems are either on or near state-owned roads, notably S.R. 224 and S.R. 248, even after both have been upgraded. Do the state roads in the county function to your liking?

Managing the traffic on Utah’s state and local roads is a problem that will never end as long as the population growth rate continues. S.R. 224 has been upgraded as recently as 2001 with the single point urban interchange at Kimball Junction, and still there remains traffic problems. Perhaps in the future the interchange could again be reconstructed to allow the through traffic to Park City to flow without the impediment of stoplights, while the Kimball Junction area traffic could exit to stoplights to regulate the direction they desire. S.R. 248 improvements have been completed and greatly improved traffic conditions but the growth in Oakley and Kamas will require a four-lane highway and that needs to be part of UDOT’s future plans. These two items would greatly improve county traffic in high-impact areas.

6. School districts continue to accept students who do not speak English as their native language, mostly Spanish. Please rate the state’s efforts to integrate the non-English speakers and describe one initiative you support addressing those who do not speak English.

Over the years, the state has tried to address this problem with several programs in the school system, namely English as a Second Language and bilingual aids to assist in the classroom to improve communication, to name a couple. The growth of the non-English speaking population has simply outstripped our resources. I think a program outside of public education in the private sector partially funded by tax dollars and partly funded by user tuition could relieve the pressure from our public system. Republican

7. Utah allows some undocumented immigrants to hold what are known as driving-privilege cards, which allow them to drive but are not recognized as official identification. Do you support keeping the driving-privilege cards intact or doing away with them?

I become more concerned every day when our federal Congress refuses to address our illegal immigrant problem. It becomes counterproductive for states to pass laws regulating these undocumented immigrants without a national policy in place to do so. It creates inconsistency and disorganization. With that said, our citizens must be protected and to have anyone on our roads without the proven skills and verification of insurance would put us all at risk. Until we can come up with a better solution, I would support this as a temporary program.

8. Please discuss your opinion of Utah’s tax structure. Should taxes go up, be cut or stay as they are now? Please address in your answer your opinion of the so-called primary home exemption, which makes property taxes more expensive for people who own houses but do not live in the state all year.

The tax structure of Utah’s has evolved over 110 years of statehood, we have implemented nearly every way possible to tax our citizens. I believe we have the responsibility to regularly look at tax exemptions and their justifications.

I support our current policy of allowing a 40 percent value exemption on primary homes or homes of primary residence but paying full tax value on secondary homes. Yes, this does make a greater tax burden on those who own homes in our state but do not live here. Generally, however, these citizens do not contribute to other taxes such as income, sales, motor fuel and corporate taxes, which financially support the services given full-time residents.

At the current time and with the current economic conditions, we do not need tax increases but we do need a better prioritization of existing needs, without the influence of political pork barrels.


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