District 54 campaign: Kraig Powell pledges to remain a reformer
Kraig Powell sees his time in the Utah House of Representatives as one of reform.
He wants to continue to reform the state government if he is re-elected. Powell, a Republican from Heber who is in his third term, described several changes he will support, ranging from liquor laws to state Board of Education elections, if voters return him to the Statehouse.
Powell, as an example, said he would sponsor a bill during the 2015 legislative session to eliminate the requirement that there be a separate dispensing area for pouring liquor in Utah establishments. He unsuccessfully sponsored a similar bill in this year’s session.
He said he is working on legislation that would allow local governments choices in renewable energies. Powell wants local governments to be able to purchase renewable energies from independent producers and then coordinate the delivery of the energy with Rocky Mountain Power.
In education, meanwhile, Powell wants state Board of Education elections to be made nonpartisan, perhaps through an amendment to the state constitution. One of his ideas is that nominees for the state Board of Education be selected from local school boards.
Powell is 48 years old and an attorney. He has attempted to strengthen his relations with the portion of District 54 that is in Park City, including through talks with City Hall officials about a range of legislative subjects, even as he remains more popular in the Heber area.
"I’ve been a reformer in the Legislature for ethics and processes and procedures," Powell said.
He supports the political parties holding open caucuses at the Legislature. Closed caucuses allow a party to craft legislation outside the public eye. Critics especially worry about closed caucuses in places where one party is dominant.
There is "great danger of decisions being made behind closed doors," Powell said about closed caucuses.
He pointed to legislation several years ago centered on the state’s open-records law that was discussed by the Republican legislators and then, Powell said, was rushed to adoption. Powell voted in favor of the bill, but he said he was the first Republican to call for its repeal.
As a candidate, Powell has adopted a policy of refusing campaign donations from lobbyists, corporations and special interest groups. He said he was the first member of the Legislature to do so. He said there is a "level of trust" between himself and people who live in the district through his policy.
"I do not want to have that level of distrust that many citizens have for their elected representatives," Powell said.
The Summit County precincts in District 54 are: Deer Valley, Old Town South, Prospector, Thaynes Canyon, Park Meadows South, Quarry Mountain, Upper Silver Creek, Highland Estates West, Ranch Place, Deer Valley South, Old Town North, Sidewinder, Bitner, Park Meadows North, Ranch Road South, Highland Estates East and Lower Silver Creek.
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The Summit County unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.