A Republican from Francis enters contest
Former Summit County Council member Tal Adair announced his bid this week for the Utah Senate seat Kevin Van Tassell currently holds.
Van Tassell, a Republican and 12-year-veteran in the Utah State Senate, announced late last month that he would not be seeking a fourth term. District 26, which Adair hopes to represent, covers swaths of Daggett, Duchesne, Uintah, Wasatch and Summit counties. It stretches from the Colorado and Wyoming borders to Pinebrook.
Adair said he has considered making a leap into state politics for some time, but didn’t make the decision to run until after Van Tassell announced his retirement.
“It’s a passion of mine to represent Summit County,” he said in an interview from Texas. “It has been 40 years since we have had representation for the West Side of the district, and I think it is high time that we are represented.”
Adair touted his experience as a former County Councilor, regional Republican Party chair and chair for the Summit County Republican Party, as qualifications for the seat. He said he knows the issues of state government, as well as the needs of the respective counties “as different as they are.”
“I think that I have served the citizens well and I want to continue doing that,” he said. “I think Summit County is a pretty diverse county, and I represented the East Side as the only member of the Council from there. I worked across party lines to make Summit County what the citizens really wanted it to be.”
Adair was appointed to the County Council in 2015 to fill the unexpired term of Dave Ure. Ure left the Council to take a position with the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.
He served on the Council for a little more than a year before he was defeated in his bid for a full term by Glenn Wright, who was the Summit County Democratic Party chair at the time.
While he was on the County Council, Adair said, the five-member board supported environmental stewardship and managed growth and development, while ensuring all citizens were equally represented.
Adair did not mention any specific issues he would like to address if elected. However, he said he would want to ensure “jobs are created, the environment is kept up, and we have continued doing what we have done to make Utah the greatest state.”
“There are so many facets to state government, and I just want to represent the public,” he said. “Being a state senator, you have to look at all the needs of each county. We need to continue to do the things that make sense and maintain our economic base no matter where we live.”
Adair declined to compare himself to or distinguish himself from Van Tassell.
“It’s too early at this stage of the game to compare ourselves,” he said.
He commended Van Tassel for the work he has done in the Senate, without mentioning any specific accomplishments.
“He is doing a great job for Summit County and has done that for the last 12 years,” he said.
Adair plans to pursue the signature-gathering route that candidates can take to bypass conventions and caucuses. The measure, approved during the 2014 legislative session, provides an alternative path for candidates to get on the ballot.
He must gather approximately 2,000 signatures from registered voters in the district before March 15 to bypass the convention. However, Adair said he also plans to follow the traditional caucus route to, hopefully, receive his party’s nomination. Joni Crane, the Utah Republican Party vice chair from Vernal, has also announced her candidacy.
Adair expressed confidence in the campaign he plans to run. He said, “I think we are going to do great and I think it will be a lot of fun.”
“I just plan on taking the common-sense approach in that you just have to represent your constituents,” he said. “If I didn’t think we were going to do great, I wouldn’t have put my hat in the ring so early.”
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The Coalville native doesn’t see any major roadblocks for this year’s fair, though presenting in front of the County Council is a little nerve wracking.