Two Parkites are looking to join this year’s state legislative races | ParkRecord.com

Two Parkites are looking to join this year’s state legislative races

With Congressional midterms within view and plenty of local and state races to go around, it's shaping up to be a busy election season in Utah. Two Parkites have announced they'll be joining the fray, fighting for positions in the Utah State Legislature.

Democrat Meaghan Miller has declared her intent to gather signatures to run for House District 54, while Republican Jack Rubin has done the same for Senate District 26. Miller, who has the support of the Summit County Democratic Party, would be challenging incumbent Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber, who has also declared his intent to gather signatures to retain his seat. Rubin could be facing a tough Republican primary to fill retiring Vernal-based Republican Sen. Kevin Van Tassell's seat.

Utah law allows candidates to earn spots in primary elections through both gathering signatures from would-be constituents and the traditional party caucus-convention system. Miller and Rubin said they also intend to participate in their parties' respective conventions.

Miller is the development coordinator for the People's Health Clinic, a clinic for uninsured patients located in Park City. She said that, to prepare for a campaign, she's been spending time in Heber City, where the PHC has recently opened a location, and Midway. Miller needs 1,000 signatures to earn a spot on the primary ballot.

"It's a really awesome place that I don't think is highlighted as much, and I'm excited to go down there and meet people and listen," she said of Wasatch County, a critical area for someone hoping to win House District 54, which also covers Park City.

When it comes to the issues facing the Wasatch Back, Miller said access to health care and ensuring quality education are among the most important.

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"I've got kids, so I'm very, very interested in education and making sure that our education system is properly funded and that our teachers are given the tools they need," Miller said. "I think a lot of people are very interested in that, I'm just living and breathing it along with so many other members of the community while attempting to represent them."

Rubin's path to nomination looks very different. Senate District 26 is massive, covering both the population centers of the Wasatch Back and of the Uinta Basin, along with all of the differing interests they're home to. With Van Tassell retiring, several Republicans from around the district have stepped up in the race to fill his seat, and the state GOP has advised all candidates to both collect signatures and participate in the party caucus. Rubin needs 2,000 signatures to ensure his place on the primary ballot.

The district's economic and cultural interests vary greatly from East to West, from the Uinta Basin's historic reliance on energy to Summit County's tourism and agriculture industries. Rubin, a private investor who works from his home in Park City, said he would run a campaign around empowering the different communities to make their own decisions and address their own interests.

"There seems to be a great deal of overreach from the state (government) to the local governments, and many of the issues they are dealing with are peculiar to the local area," Rubin said. "It depends on whether it's zoning, taxing, allocation of green space, plotting of transportation arteries, there's all kinds of stuff that, at its core, the local voice needs to be better heard than it currently is."

With his wife Jamie at his side, Rubin said he's putting all of his effort into his campaign.

"There will be no stone unturned," Rubin said. "There's no reason to go into this as a part time job, I'm going at it full-tilt."

Park City isn't currently represented at the state level by politicians who live in Summit County. Both candidates want to change that, and they say they have something to offer the districts where they would run.

Miller said both her experience working with the People's Health Clinic and raising her own family would be an asset in the Capitol.

"A big part of my job is to listen to the community's views and ideas," Miller said. "I'm very fortunate to be given an opportunity to use my communication skills, my listening skills and time management and business skills."

Rubin, meanwhile, has spent a lot of time doing some old-fashioned pavement pounding.

"I'm spending a lot of time knocking on doors, and I've met a lot of people, and generally speaking the reception I've gotten has been very heartening," said Rubin. "This is a real politically active community, and I'm very thankful for the interest I've received so far."