Wayne Stevens (D) – Utah Senate District 26
Wayne Stevens (Democrat)
Utah Senate District 26
Question 1: What are your qualifications to run for a seat in the state senate and why do you want to serve?
I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Rangeland Management with the option for Big Game Habitat Management from Washington State University. I served for 29 years in the Bureau of Land Management: Nine years as a range conservationist; 20 years as a uniformed law enforcement officer.
I decided to seek a Utah State Senate seat because I have been working for three years to prevent a phosphate mine from being built on top of Vernal’s primary drinking water source. As I delved into the water issue, I soon found out that because of Utah mining law, all drinking water sources are endangered by the State. The law basically states that if a political subdivision enacts ordinances to protect drinking water (and anything else), the ordinance is deemed to be unenforceable.
Question 2: The state is actively trying to reinstate its ban on same-sex marriage. Where do you stand on this issue?
I am opposed to banning same-sex marriage. I believe such a ban is unconstitutional and is discriminatory. Everyone has the right to find happiness, love and marry whomever they choose. Such marriages have no bearing on heterosexual marriages. Same-sex marriage does not affect freedom of religion. Religious beliefs are personal and should not be forced on others.
Question 3: Recently, there have been clashes over the use of public lands with some saying the federal government has overstepped its powers. How do you feel about those complaints and should the state pursue efforts to take back lands currently under federal jurisdiction.
As a former "federal land manager," I am opposed to giving federal lands to the states for several reasons. First, recreation opportunities, such as hunting, fishing, off-highway touring, camping, and many other recreational activities would be lost by privatization, mining, or both. Secondly, the State of Utah cannot manage the lands it currently has (i.e. not protecting drinking water). The state is not set-up to manage that much land with either a work force nor money. An example of this is that Utah has 700 (or more) mines with only four mine inspectors. Lastly, the federal government’s payment in lieu of taxes is more money than what would be obtained through large tracts of agricultural lands and mines.
Question 4: Is the state legislature doing as much as it can to fund education? If not what specific policy would you propose to increase funding for schools.
The State is not doing what it could do to further K-12 education.
I would attempt to increase the school budget to: increase teachers’ salaries, hire more teachers to lower the student-teacher ratio and add more classrooms to assist in making class sizes smaller. I would also work to strengthen not just the math and English curricula, but strengthen the curricula of science and history as well. I believe this would create a better climate for developing critical thinking skills.
Question 5: The legislature has the power to incentivize or discourage various types of energy production. How do you feel about current state policies regarding oil and gas production versus the development of alternative energy resources.
Since we are 14 years into the 21st Century, I believe it more important to develop, improve and use alternative energy. Oil and gas production will not go away with the conversion to alternative energy sources. Certainly the price structure may change, but oil and gas will still be in use. The uses of oil and gas can then be shifted from propelling automobiles to the manufacture of medicines, plastics, clothing, and other items.
Converting to alternative energy sources will also promote cleaner air and water, creating healthier workers and populations in general.
Question 6: Please differentiate your platform from your opponent’s.
I am different from my respected opponent by wanting to clean our air and protect our drinking water. I am also different because I believe a good idea is a good idea regardless of political party. I also look for facts when looking at legislation and its legitimacy.
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Court report: Week of June 22