Sen. Allen Christensen says he will not seek reelection in District 19
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, has announced he will retire from the Statehouse when his term expires at the end of the year and will not seek reelection for the District 19 seat that covers portions of Morgan, Weber and Summit counties.
“I’ve been there 16 years and that’s long enough,” he told The Park Record. “I think I’m turning selfish and I need some time for my own and my own business. It’s time.”
Christensen was first elected in 2004 and most recently won reelection in 2016. He said his time in office has been a pleasure, but that it has come with costs.
“It has been a fantastic ride, it really has. I’ve enjoyed it so much,” he said. “Lots of work. Lots of sacrifice along the way — in time and money and friends.”
Christensen, a former dentist, described his role in the Legislature as administering health and human services and social services appropriations. He said he’s proud of the work but that its challenges make him worried that no one will want to step in and take his place.
“Those areas affect people’s lives directly,” he said. “When they come in and ask for appropriations and when there is no money or they’re not a priority, seriously you feel like a jerk not doing it.”
At a recent legislative forum, he estimated the combined health and social services budgets to account for about $5.6 billion annually.
In this session, he said he’s particularly focused on passing e-cigarette regulations, something he said he’d like to have accomplished sooner.
His plan calls for more money for law enforcement, a provision allowing schools to confiscate vaping devices, and perhaps most importantly, levying the same taxes on e-cigarettes as on tobacco. It would also enact the same regulations on vaping, including prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in places where smoking is banned.
“Hopefully we can get a bit of control for the kids getting hooked on these ‘innocuous’ little devices,” he said.
Reflecting on his career, he said he was particularly proud of his work establishing animal torture as a felony, increasing the cigarette tax and working with pharmacies to establish a preferred drug list, which he said saves the state millions of dollars each year.
Christensen earned statewide attention during the 2019 legislative session for sponsoring legislation that sought to effectively reverse the full Medicaid expansion voters approved in 2018 as Proposition 3. Christensen’s plan was passed and signed into law but was later rejected by the federal government, triggering the full Medicaid expansion.
He said one potential advantage of retirement is that he won’t have to be nearly as politically correct. He said that it’s rare to hear from people when his work benefits them, but that people are quick to let him know when his decisions offend them, and that they can become vindictive.
He said he retired from dentistry five years ago, and when asked what he’d do with his newfound free time, he joked, “That’s what my wife is really concerned about.”
Republican Johnny Ferry of Pleasant View and Katy Owens, a Democrat from Pinebrook, have joined the race to replace Christensen by declaring their intent to get on the ballot through signature gathering. Summit County resident Chris Neville, a Democrat who in 2018 ran unsuccessfully for House District 53, has also launched a campaign for the seat.
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The Park City Museum recounts a 1914 field trip from Salt Lake City to the mines of Park City.