Evans’ graceful exit opens door
When state Senator Beverly Evans launched her first campaign in Summit County, in 1998, she faced a tough crowd. A resident of Altamont with a five-term track record of supporting rural issues in the House of Representatives, she faced a skeptical audience in her new district, especially in Park City, where liberalizing liquor laws and increasing funds for tourism topped the agenda.
But a smart, hardworking Evans slowly won over her new constituents by proving that she understood their unique needs and could effectively sponsor legislation to address them.
Last Friday, Evans announced that she would not seek a third term as a senator, capping a 20-year career in the Legislature.
Her decision to make the announcement well before the end of this month’s filing window typifies the sense of openness and fairness she brought to the office. Evans could have, as some elected officials have done before, waited until the last moment to withdraw, allowing a handpicked successor to run with little opposition.
Instead, she gracefully announced her retirement the weekend before the 10-day filing window opened, giving Democrats, Republicans and Independents plenty of time to enlist candidates.
At least one candidate has already emerged Rep. David Ure (R-Kamas) wants to switch floors at the Legislature. The veteran representative for much of Summit County announced this week that he will run for Evans’ seat.
Evans’ withdrawal and Ure’s plan to run for the Senate seat, thereby opening up the Dist. 53 post, constitutes a major shake-up in the status quo, one that the Democrats should jump on.
Evans and Ure have both worked hard to understand and then support issues important to Western Summit County, but due to the more conservative, rural majority in their districts, and their own backgrounds (Ure is a dairy farmer and Evans serves on the Utah Rural Development Council) their priorities do not always align with those of Summit County. Therefore, the upcoming election could provide Western Summit County the opportunity to increase its presence, and influence, in both the House and the Senate.
It would still be a battle, but one worth fighting. Senate District 26 covers the predominantly rural Daggett, Duchesne, Wasatch and Uintah counties. House District 53 also stretches over a large rural area, including Rich, Morgan and Daggett counties and part of Wasatch County. A Park City candidate might feel a lot like Evans did when she first stumped through Park City kind of like a stranger in a strange land.
Ultimately, though, Evans earned the respect and approval of her new metropolitan-minded constituents in this resort town, just as a Park City politician might gain acceptance in outlying areas.
If Park City politicos are smart, they will spend the next week scouring every neighborhood for candidates for both the Senate and House seats. It would be a shame to let this opportunity for better representation at the state Legislature slip away.
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