Three seek to replace Ure
Two Republicans and a Democrat have filed papers to run for the state House of Representatives seat that David Ure will relinquish as he seeks a spot in the state Senate.
After Ure, a popular Republican from Kamas, announced his intentions to challenge for the Senate seat now held by retiring Altamont Republican Beverly Evans, it was expected that there would be great interest by both Republicans and Democrats in the district.
Mel Brown, a former speaker of the House who lives in Hoytsville, and Dee Putnam, a career firefighter from Kamas, are challenging for the Republican nomination. Laura Bonham, a Coalville Democrat, is seeking a House seat for the third time, running previously as a Democrat in 2004 and as a Green Party candidate in 2002.
The Republicans, though they hold a significant majority in the House, want to retain the District 53 seat. It is especially desirable because Park City sits inside the district, a feather for any Statehouse politician that represents the city because of its prestige as Utah’s premier ski resort.
It is expected that the contest for District 53 could be the most notable local Statehouse election. Without Ure, a seven-term legislator who has especially been dominant in his last few re-election bids, the campaign appears less predictable than at any time in a decade.
Democrats in District 53 have had strong showings in Park City in recent elections but Ure has proven a powerhouse in other, more conservative parts of the district and has routinely trounced his opponents on the strength of the returns in the other counties in the district.
Brown, 68, plans to run a campaign with a platform of tax reform and private-property rights. He said he wants the state’s food tax kept intact, calling it "broad and fair," and said he prefers Utah adopt a flat tax on income, meaning that everyone pays taxes at the same rate. He said he would sponsor a flat-tax bill if he saw that such legislation could pass.
He served as speaker of the House in the mid-1990s but did not seek re-election in 2000 amid a lobbyist scandal. He said he was exonerated. During his previous tenure in the House, Brown represented Midvale. He since moved to Summit County. He is a farmer and a rancher.
Putnam, 54, is a captain in the Salt Lake County fire department, served in the Army’s special forces from 1969 until 1972 and was in the National Guard for seven years in the 1970s and ’80s.
He described himself as a conservative on fiscal matters and a centrist on social issues. Putnam calls himself a "moderate Republican." He said his job as a firefighter gives him the perspective of a public-sector employee and, since he lives in Kamas and works in the Salt Lake Valley, he has a "broadened perspective."
Putnam this week did not provide details of his platform, however.
"I do not have this driving issue I need to drive home," he said.
Bonham, 47, is the administrator for a general contractor in Coalville. She charges that the Legislature has failed Utahns. She said her campaign will include platform planks like education funding and health insurance. She said a healthcare option is to make the insurance plan offered to state employees available to anyone in Utah.
Bonham calls health insurance a "moral issue" and "a right as an American."
"We have more that enough money to cover everybody. We don’t even need to raise taxes," Bonham claims.
Meanwhile, a Democrat, Jack Gray from Salt Lake City, has filed to seek the party’s nomination for District 25. Ross Romero, another Democrat from Salt Lake City, currently holds the seat. Kevin T. van Tassell, a Republican from Vernal, filed papers to challenge Ure for the party’s nomination for the Senate.
The challenges within the parties mean that the candidates appearing on November’s ballot will either be chosen during party conventions in the spring or, if enough votes cannot be secured at the conventions, they will be forced into a primary.
The District 53 seat stretches over parts of Rich, Morgan, Summit, Wasatch and Daggett counties. Locally, the district represents Park City and the East Side of Summit County. District 25 primarily encompasses parts of the eastern benches of Salt Lake but winds its way into the Snyderville Basin.
The filing deadline is March 17.
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