Park Record Endorsements Part 1: Hatch, Open space, Olsen, Uresk and Johnson
November 1, 2006
Perhaps the easiest decision on Tuesday’s ballot is to vote ‘Yes’ on Park City’s $20 million open-space bond. Two previous $10 million bonds have enabled the city to protect about 956 acres of land and no one has expressed a moment’s regret about those acquisitions.
Whether motivated by the need to recreate or by concerns about air and water quality, Parkites have shown they are willing to increase their own taxes to preserve open space and we hope that trend continues. It is estimated that the bond would increase property taxes on primary homes by about $24 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year and $44 per $100,000 per year on secondary homes and commercial properties.
On the more difficult end of the spectrum are the races for Congress.
Five-term incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican, has been challenged by Democrat Pete Ashdown, an articulate but inexperienced newcomer. Of the two, Hatch, because of his seniority, has the potential to pass more Utah-specific legislation and bring home more pork than Ashdown.
Hatch has also proven to be a refreshingly independent thinker not always in lockstep with the Senate’s Republican Party line. For that reason, Hatch is the stronger candidate. We have been impressed, though, by Ashdown’s emphasis on the need to develop alternative energy sources and on meaningful immigration reform based on the need for workers. We would like to see him return to the political scene, perhaps at the Statehouse before trusting him to represent us in the Senate.
In the contest for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, however, we urge voters to support the Democratic challenger, Steve Olsen, who is hoping to unseat Republican Rob Bishop. While Bishop has been responsive to local requests for help in solving Park City’s issue with the Air Force regarding the Gambel Oak property, in the larger picture, he is part of the conservative bastion calling for repeal of the estate tax to benefit the rich, a longer, higher wall along the border with Mexico and bigger investments in the oil and gas industry.
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There is a nationwide call for reform in a Congress that brought back the deficit, undid 20 years of environmental progress and led the nation into a devastating, no-win war in the Middle East. Electing a Democrat could help turn the tide.
In the same spirit, Summit County voters can instigate some much-needed changes at the state Capitol.
One of the brightest lights among the new faces hoping to enter state politics is Democrat Christine Johnson, who is vying against Republican Kenneth Grover to represent District 25 in the Utah House. Johnson is an unapologetic liberal who knows the issues and the challenge she would face in the conservative Legislature. She understands the need for legislation to support local planning and zoning efforts and she has specific ideas about how the state can go about bolstering tourism. Grover, on the other hand, seems to have only a superficial grasp of the issues and, in general, his conservative views would not be a good match for his western Summit County constituents.
Similarly, Democrat Roland Uresk is the best candidate in the race for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Beverly Evans. His Republican opponent, Kevin VanTassell, wasn’t motivated enough to answer some The Park Record’s Voters Guide questions and, therefore, we believe would also turn a deaf ear to Park City’s interests at the Legislature. The third candidate, Sonya Ray of the Constitution Party, is so busy championing what government should not do that it is doubtful that she would author any viable legislation if elected.
Editor’s note: Endorsements Part 2 will address the Snyderville Basin Recreation Bond, Proposition 1, and the races for Utah House District 53, sheriff, clerk and county commissioner