Utah House District 53 candidates make final pitches as Election Day nears
The candidates for the state House District 53 seat have attempted to carve out their differences on a wide range of issues in the weeks leading up to Election Day, largely outside of the arena of forums and townhall meetings.
Incumbent Republican Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, and his Democratic challenger Chris Neville have only participated in one organized debate together. The event, held in Morgan County, was moderated by the Morgan County High School debate team earlier this month. No similar events have been held in Summit County allowing the candidates to debate their stances on important issues. The pair say they have been invited to a handful of townhall meetings in the area, including a couple in Kamas, but the events were not widely publicized. The candidates were scheduled to appear at a gathering at a private residence in Promontory on Tuesday, a week before Election Day, Wilde said.
Instead, Wilde and Logan both said they have largely relied on engaging voters through other means, such as on social media or by campaigning door-to-door. Wilde said he is especially trying to reach the independent voters of the district, which includes large swaths of Daggett, Rich, Morgan, Duchesne and Summit counties.
“We want to make sure they are aware of who we are,” he said. “Most of them have been very receptive to what we have been talking about, which is engagement. That is the biggest thing people are asking for.”
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.
If elected, Wilde said he wants to ensure that control stays with the local governments in his district. It’s a message he has maintained throughout his time on the Legislature and while campaigning.
“I want to make sure the state doesn’t take over and run over the local needs of the people,” he said.
Other topics he has focused on through his campaign include water issues and the state’s ability to provide adequate funding for the roads within his district.
“The cost of roads are going up so how do we utilize that in the best possible way?” he said.
Neville, who lives in Hidden Cove, has also stuck to a consistent message. He said he has attempted to frame his conversations with voters around three areas that have served as the pillar of his campaign: environmental stewardship, compassionate government and fair representation. He owns a software company, working with ski resorts across the country on various projects.
“I provide a unique viewpoint that might be helpful no matter what side you are rooting for,” he said. “The No. 1 thing that I have focused on both in my business dealings, whether working or myself or private business, is creativity. I think being a software engineer leads you to the mindset that we have the tools to solve problems and it allows creativity to come up with solutions others might not.”
Neville has mainly focused his efforts on the eastern end of the county. He said he has spent a significant amount of time in Kamas, Coalville, Oakley and Henefer, as well as neighboring Morgan County.
As Election Day nears, Neville said he is feeling more encouraged than he did at the beginning of his candidacy. “I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors of people who agree with me and hundreds more of those who I knew wouldn’t agree with me off the bat,” he said. “But, even though I say I’m a Democrat and they are registered Republican, they have been willing to listen and share their stories with me.”
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