Senate District 26: incumbent wants to boost the economy
Kevin Van Tassell, the state senator whose District 26 includes the Park City area, serves a region with an extraordinarily diverse economy.
The Park City area’s economy is driven by tourism and its related industries, such as construction, while the eastern portions of the district rely on natural resources industries. Van Tassell, a 62-year-old Republican from Vernal, is seeking his third term in the Senate.
He noted the unemployment rate is low in the Uinta Basin and in the Park City area. His top priority in another term will be economic development.
"The economy’s turned around," Van Tassell, an executive with Zions Bank, said, indicating he has heard that tourism in the Park City area has increased.
Still, he said, it is important to diversify the economy. Utah needs to keep the state government "as small as we can" in regard to economic development.
Van Tassell said he wants to expand a state program known as Business Expansion & Retention expanded to include counties with smaller populations, like Summit County.
The senator, meanwhile, sees road improvements as another method to expand the economy. He wants another westbound lane added to Interstate 80 as the highway travels through a portion of Summit County. Adding a westbound lane from Jeremy Ranch to Parleys Summit would address safety and capacity issues, Van Tassell said.
Van Tassell wants the state to continue to financially support the tourism industry.
Van Tassell said he is considering seeking a leadership position in the Senate if he is re-elected. He said, perhaps, he would bid to become the assistant majority whip. The whip or the assistant whip gathers legislative support for a party’s agenda.
Van Tassell said his relationship with the Park City area has been strengthened during his time in the Senate. He said he is more comfortable with Park City nowadays than he was when he entered the Senate.
"I think it’s better than it’s ever been," Van Tassell said.
The Summit County precincts in District 26 are: Thaynes, Upper Pinebrook, Deer Valley North, Deer Valley South, Francis, Highland Estates East, Highland Estates West, Kamas, Lower Pinebrook, Oakley, Old Town North, Old Town South, Park West, Peoa, Park Meadows North, Park Meadows South, Promontory Ridge, Prospector, Quarry Mountain, Ranch Road South, Ranch Place, Sidewinder, Silver Springs, Snyder’s Mill, South Summit East, South Summit West, South Summit South and Weber Canyon.
Outside of Summit County, the district stretches across all or parts of Daggett, Duchesne, Uintah and Wasatch counties.
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The Summit County unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.