Morgan County leader and political newcomer up for seat in Utah’s House District 53
The race for a seat in Utah’s House District 53 is on between Morgan County leader Logan Wilde and political newcomer Cole Capener.
The two candidates are campaigning to succeed longtime incumbent Republican Rep. Mel Brown. Wilde, the Republican nominee, ousted Brown in a closely contested primary race in June even after a disappointing showing in Summit County, while Democrat Capener is mounting his first political campaign.
The counties that make up District 53 includes large swaths of Daggett, Rich, Morgan, Duchesne and Summit counties. The portion of District 53 that stretches through Summit County includes Park West, Kimball Junction, Promontory, Snyders Mill, Moose Hollow, Silver Springs, Jeremy Ranch, all of North and South Summit, and parts of Pinebrook.
The two have been going door-to-door throughout District 53 hoping to garner support as relative newcomers in a district that has historically favored Republican leadership.
Wilde is a sixth-generation rancher with a sheep and cattle operation that covers more than 17,000 acres in Morgan. He has been involved with Morgan County government for more than a decade, serving as a member of the Morgan County Council since 2013.
Throughout his campaign, Wilde has shown an interest in issues pertaining to agriculture and water access. In a recent interview with The Park Record, Wilde said he favors a hands-off approach by the government unless it affects the health, safety or welfare of the community.
“I do think the government needs to get involved with property rights when it starts to affect that,” Wilde said. “I also believe the public has a right to access waterways in a responsible manner. We do not limit access on waterways because we’ve tried that before and it becomes, in my opinion, burdensome on the landowners.
“I think it comes more of a philosophical question of: how do you protect the landowner to secure what he is trying to do and how do you grant access to water in a responsible way?” he said.
Wilde also described himself as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, saying that we have “enough firearm laws for today’s problems.” Wilde said he carries a .22 caliber gun as part of his job.
“There are several laws that have been broken during these instances of gun violence and I think we need to just be responsible,” Wilde said.
Wilde said he is ready to pick up where Brown left off, however, he emphasized the need to “stand up and fight” more for essential programs. He noted that local governments know best what those essential programs are.
“I think Summit County needs to lean on their county councilors because I think they have a better grasp on what is needed in Summit County than I do, which is why it is very important to listen to those local governments and school districts to actually take what they are saying and apply it in the Legislature.”
Wilde said he is opposed to the privatization of public lands, but said he also appreciates the debate that is taking place over the Public Lands Initiative. He said there is a “big problem” with how those lands are currently managed.
“I’m not quite sure the state can manage all of them, but there are some that I think they would do a better job of managing,” Wilde said. “
Capener, who lives in Sun Peak, admittedly positions himself in the center on many of these same issues, including the right to bear arms. He said he tries to find a balance between the constitutional right to bear arms and the decisions that come down from the Supreme Court.
“In our state, that is very important because we have a lot of hunters, but that’s not just important in our state,” Capener said. “This is also important for people who keep it for protection at home.
“But at the same time the Court has also found that it is not an unfettered right and that reasonable regulations are permitted,” he added. “I think the purpose of those reasonable regulations, to the extent they are adopted, should be to enhance gun safety and reduce gun violence. I think that most Utahns and even those that own firearms would not object to that and that is something we can do at the state level.”
Capener, a humanitarian and former international business lawyer, also said awareness needs to be raised about the critical nature of the state’s water infrastructure. He said “we need to do what we can to ensure our quality and supply of water.”
“I am the first one to admit that I am not an expert in the area, but I have heard reports from experts and we have shortages and we have contaminants. From a state level I think we need to do what we can,” Capener said. “Does that mean we build a pipeline? I don’t know. You have to balance our need for water with the impact it has on our other needs.”
Capener said one of the main reasons he is seeking a seat is because the Legislature has “really gone off the deep end.”
“It has really failed to represent most of Utah, which was the whole purpose of this Legislature to be representative of the people,” Capener said. “I think the County Councils are representing the interests, but the Legislature is a critical part of the job. I am dedicated and committed to communicating and advocating for the people in the Legislature if I am elected.”
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