County voters have some good choices for state races
Spoiler alert. The Park Record is about to endorse candidates in some of the upcoming state races. If you think the paper should remain mute on its choices, we respect that and suggest that you skip down to the myriad citizen endorsements below. This edition contains one of the biggest batches of Letters to the Editor we have ever received and we are proud that the authors view this newspaper as a valuable forum for their views.
Unfortunately, due to early voting and existing campaign finance disclosure deadlines, voters (and journalists) are still missing an important category of information that could influence their votes. Candidates are not required to reveal the sources of their campaign funding until the preliminary filing deadline, Oct. 29, and their final reports are not due until the end of November.
Those reports are especially valuable when making decisions on the candidates for state offices, including House District seats 53 and 54 and state senate District 26 which represent all or parts of Summit County. We do not know whether this year’s candidates have accepted funding from, and therefore may be beholden to, special interests including oil and mining companies and/or PACs that represent ideological positions on the extreme right OR left.
One candidate has stated clearly that he does not accept special interest money and previous disclosure statements suggest he is as good as his word. Incumbent Rep. Kraig Powell (R-Heber City), who represents House District 54, is adamant about not accepting PAC money. He has proven to be an energetic representative who engages with his constituents year-round and carefully researches complex issues before coming to his own decisions. He has a worthy Democratic opponent, Glenn Wright of Park City, but Powell’s seniority and broader base of support among both Democratic and Republican legislators would better serve the district, and citizens throughout state.
In the race between longtime incumbent Mel Brown (R-Coalville) and Ray Worthen (D-Morgan) to represent the sprawling District 53, neither is a good fit for Summit County voters.
Unfortunately, Worthen is inexperienced and not persuasive, though he offers some thoughtful positions on the issues. On the other hand, Brown’s interests are too firmly entrenched in the state’s conservative camp. And, while Brown lives in Coalville, he has been largely inaccessible to his Summit County constituents.
Maybe in the next round, two years from now a more moderate and sophisticated candidate will emerge to lead this diverse district.
The candidates running for state Senate District 26 offer stronger choices. Incumbent Kevin Van Tassell (R-Vernal) is responsive to Park City area constituents, though he typically votes with the state’s conservative majority. He has earned seniority in the Legislature, but, with most of his support coming from the oil-rich Uinta Basin, Van Tassell is not sympathetic to Summit County’s concerns about environmental issues. That is where his challenger, Wayne Stevens (D-Vernal) shines.
A former land manager, Stevens is not shy about stumping for the environment, an issue his constituents in Summit County hold dear. We also believe, residents in the Uinta Basin, which is rapidly becoming known for having the worst air pollution in the county, will soon realize air and water quality are of dire consequence and they will seek elected officials who will address those issues.
Whether you agree with our assessments or not, please VOTE. Early voting continues through Friday at 5 p.m. and Election Day is next Tuesday, Nov. 4.
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