Woodland resident launches District 53 campaign
During the peak of the Sundance Film Festival in January, 67-year-old Seth Winterton quietly announced that he plans to run against District 53 Rep. Melvin Brown (R-Coalville).
Winterton, a Republican, said his announcement fell under the radar because of the timing. However, over the last several weeks he has attempted to more formally launch a campaign to join the Utah Legislature.
"I’ve considered doing this for a long time, but working for the state I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to seek election," Winterton said. "But the timing is right now and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do."
The Woodland resident said he called Brown to inform him of his intentions and even asked him to support his campaign. Winterton said Brown declined. Brown, a Coalville resident, was elected to the Legislature in 2007 and prior to that served a lengthy stint from 1987 until 2000. He has not returned calls from The Park Record about whether he will seek re-election.
"It’s tough to go against an incumbent and he has done an excellent job. I admire him," Winterton said. "My weakness is I am not a politician, but I have worked with the Legislature and understand it."
For nearly 30 years, Winterton worked with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and helped establish the food program Utah’s Own, which encourages Utahns to seek out locally grown food. He retired in 2015 and is currently acting as a consultant for several small food businesses.
"When I worked with the Legislature what I found was that we have a disposition to bring large companies to Utah to supposedly bring in more jobs, but then we don’t pay attention to small business and I feel small business is what drives local economy," Winterton said. "It is important and should be discussed and pushed maybe harder on a legislative level. I don’t think we give them the credit they deserve for what they contribute to the state."
Winterton, a Summit County native, said his work has always been involved with the agricultural industry and growth will continue to chip away at private lands.
"We have to figure out how to preserve that but for open space and agriculture," he said, adding that "a lot more can be done."
Winterton said he is also a "huge grazing proponent" because the animals that are on the public lands are doing a service by harvesting renewable sources, something he believes needs to be maintained.
Winterton also believes local school boards lack control over educational issues, including finances. Winterton’s wife, Susan, is a fifth grade teacher at South Summit Middle School.
"I strongly believe there should be more influence on a local level and pulling away from state control," Winterton said. "I think our local entities and local school boards should have more control than they do about how money is spent."
Winterton’s bid won’t be his first attempt to seek office: he unsuccessfully vied for an appointment to the Summit County Council in November. He said it may be an uphill battle running against Brown.
"My biggest objective is to get the word out, that I am running, to allow people to contact me," Winterton said. "Let’s sit and visit. Invite me into your home so we can have a meaningful conversation about why I think I am your man."
As of Monday, a Facebook page dedicated to Winterton had garnered 270 likes.
While his views won’t "vary that much" from Brown’s, Winterton said their background set them apart.
"I come from an administrative environment where I worked for the state enforcing statutes and regulations," Winterton said. "I feel like we are over-regulated. I have been on that side of the regulatory environment where I can see how statutes and regulations actually affect business and citizens and I wonder, are we over-regulating? Do we have too much going on?
"And I believe it should be questioned," he said.
Utah’s District 53 includes some precincts in the Snyderville Basin, North and South Summit, Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan and Rich counties. Representatives are elected for a two-year term. The primary election is June 28.
To view Winterton’s Facebook page, go to https://www.facebook.com/Seth-Winterton-1236570829704922/.
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The Summit County Council is poised to extend its order allowing school mask requirements at a meeting Monday. No school is close to the case-number threshold, according to state data.