Brown, Van Tassell and Powell will face challengers
All of Summit County’s state legislators up for re-election this year but one will face competition from both inside and outside their parties. 28th Dist. Rep. Brian King (D-Salt Lake City), who represents Summit Park and portions of Pinebrook, will be the lone candidate for his re-election bid.
Here is what the races for the seats of 26th Dist. Sen. Kevin Van Tassell (R-Vernal), 53rd Dist. Rep. Melvin Brown (R-Coalville) and 54th District Rep. Kraig Powell (R-Heber City) will look like.
26th Senate District
Representing Park City and much of the Snyderville Basin and the East Side of Summit County, as well as Duchesne, Daggett, Uintah and Wasatch Counties, 26th Dist. Sen. Kevin Van Tassell will first go up against a candidate within his own party in Susan Horrocks, who hails from Vernal.
Horrocks is a retired school teacher and has been a rancher for many years. She believes Van Tassell has "done a great job" but thinks it is her time to serve the state in the Legislature. Horrocks hopes to tackle some of the energy issues facing the state, as well as pollution. As a rancher, she said she is passionate about protecting agriculture.
"I’m retired and I have the health, energy and desire to serve," Horrocks said.
Representing the Democratic Party will be Vernal resident Wayne Stevens, who is a retired Bureau of Land Management law enforcement ranger with 29 years of experience. He said he is running mainly due to concerns about air and water quality.
Stevens says the state has ignored the citizens of Uintah County, who have been fighting to protect Ashley Springs from proposed phosphate mining operations. The top priorities of the state, he said, should be protecting drinking water sources and be more aggressive in safeguarding air quality.
53rd House District
Coalville Republican Melvin Brown has many years of experience in the State Legislature and serves as the co-chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee.
Brown’s competitor in the Republican Party will be Morgan business development manager Blaine Hone. Hone said he is focused on education reform and said the state needs to show "more caution" in how it pursues such reform. He said he would also be "progressively proactive" in the Legislature and would be open to public input.
"My methodology will be to try to connect and try to understand voters and make myself absolutely accessible to the public," Hone said.
Mountain Green resident Ray Worthen is running against Brown on the Democratic ticket. He said he is concerned about the direction the state is going with the Republicans in solid control of the Legislature.
Worthen, who is retired, is also passionate about providing more funding for public education and protecting public lands from being sold off to private interests.
"I would like to see children from Utah have a future as well as clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and decent jobs," Worthen said.
54th House District
Heber City Republican Kraig Powell, who sponsored a higher-than-average number of bills this legislative session, will first face fellow Heber City Republican Wylder Smith, a territory manager for Certiport.
Smith said he thinks Powell does not approach bills from a "common-sense" approach, but rather from a litigator’s point of view. Smith is a fourth-generation military service member, having served in Iraq.
"We need to be careful every time we pass a law [and decide] what the 20, the 50-year effect is going to be," Smith said, adding that issues need to be looked at from both sides. "With the equalization of schools, that’s a great idea in West Valley, but for Park City, that’s a terrible idea."
Summit County Democratic Party Chair Glenn Wright is the lone Democrat running for Powell’s seat. He thinks the state is weak on its environmental regulations and would pursue more clean-air-related bills if elected. Wright also says the state needs more representation from Democrats.
"The main reason I’m running is because this state needs an effective two-party system," Wright said in a previous interview. "With the gerrymandering that occurred after the 2010 Census, the 54th District is attainable for a Democrat."
To find which state House and Senate District you are in, visit le.utah.gov and under ‘Legislators’ click on ‘Find by Address/Map.’