An incumbent and political newcomer will face off in State House District 53 race | ParkRecord.com

An incumbent and political newcomer will face off in State House District 53 race

House District 53 Rep. Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, left, is hoping to retain his seat over Democratic challenger and Summit County resident Chris Neville.

Incumbent Logan Wilde and political newcomer Chris Neville are facing off for a seat in the state House of Representatives, with both candidates bringing varied backgrounds to the race.

Wilde, a Republican, is hoping to gain enough support from voters to retain his seat as House District 53's representative, while Neville, a Democrat, is mounting his first political campaign in a district that has historically favored Republican leadership. Wilde succeeded longtime incumbent Republican Rep. Mel Brown in the 2016 election.

Wilde is a rancher with a sheep and cattle operation in Croydon. He was involved with Morgan County government, serving as chair for both the Morgan County Council and Morgan County Health Department before winning his seat in the House.

While trying to get his feet wet during his first term as a legislator, Wilde became involved with various agricultural programs, as well as the conservation efforts of local nonprofit organizations such as Summit Land Conservancy. He said he also explored the issue of moderate-income housing and participated in discussions about creating policies that could help provide housing in the $180,000 to $340,000 range.

"We have been working with Summit County to see what we can do to incentivize the building of homes to target those ranges," he said. "I know housing is difficult. But, we have to be able to provide moderate housing. Otherwise teachers, law enforcement officials and firefighters won't be able to afford to live within our communities. What we are seeing in the state of Utah is the price of housing is outpacing salaries and we are very concerned about it."

Another issue that Wilde sees as important is what he referred to as the "road-tax problem." He said the funds from gas taxes for maintaining the state's roads and highways are shrinking.

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"It's partly because of electric cars, but there are a lot of other factors," he said. "Cars are getting more efficient gas mileage, and we want those things because it provides better air quality. But, we also have to figure out how we are going to get the taxes to maintain our roads."

Some of the ideas that have been considered include a charge for miles driven, which Wilde said would be "very beneficial to the state." The question, he said, is how to implement it and not overtax certain people, such as those in rural areas. He added, "It's something I'm looking forward to discussing further."

Throughout his tenure, Wilde said, he has attempted to reach across the partisan divide to form working relationships with Democrats, particularly in Summit County. He said he is ready to pick up where he left off and continue improving those relationships.

"I try to listen to their concerns and take into account how what we are doing will impact Summit County or the cities in that area," he said.

Neville, who lives in Hidden Cove, admits Wilde has a more extensive political resume than him. But, he said, he brings a different perspective to the table that would be valuable, especially as it pertains to technology and entrepreneurship. Neville owns a software company, working with ski resorts across the country on various projects.

Neville said the state should be encouraging and supporting more people to create their own businesses.

"With the way the economy is changing, people don't have to wait for big business to take over their towns," he said. "It's just a different perspective and different skill to offer."

Neville said he has knocked on hundreds of doors throughout his campaign and immersed himself in the politics of counties such as Morgan, hoping to appeal to both Republican and Democratic voters in the district. He said Democrats, in particular, are frustrated and don't feel like that they are represented. He said many voters tell him they have lost their voice due to gerrymandering.

"It's really frustrating that no Democrats are elected to office outside of Salt Lake County and not all Democrats are the same," he said. "I feel like there is a different way to represent rural Utah and the Wasatch Back that doesn't have to mirror the policies of someone in Salt Lake."

Neville said he typically addresses three issues with voters: fair representation, compassionate government and environmental stewardship. He expressed concerns about the way the state views the environment, describing the health issues that many face as a result of poor air quality.

"It seems like their main focus is to grow as fast as possible, and I'm worried about how that reflects in District 53 where there is a lot of agriculture and tourism and these communities rely on a healthy environment for their economy," he said.

Neville said one of the reasons he is seeking a seat is to bring an aspect of creativity and enthusiasm to the Statehouse that is lacking.

"I think when we have 83 percent of our Legislature from one party, creativity isn't necessarily there," he said. "I've spent a long time coming up with creative solutions and I want to bring that to that to the Legislature."

District 53 covers large swaths of Daggett, Rich, Morgan, Duchesne and Summit counties. In Summit County, District 53 includes: Park West, Kimball Junction, Promontory, Snyders Mill, Moose Hollow, Silver Springs, Jeremy Ranch, all of North and South Summit, and parts of Pinebrook.

Ballots will be mailed to Summit County voters on Oct. 16 and should arrive around Oct. 19. Returned ballots will need to be postmarked no later than Nov. 5.