The incumbent congressman isn't listening to constituent concerns, Democratic candidate Kenley Brunsdale told a cheering group of Democrats Saturday at the party's Davis County convention.
Brunsdale said his campaign strategy of listening to concerns and then drawing up suggestions and even proposed bills for introduction in Congress for solving them has incumbent Republican Jim Hansen off balance.Hansen is responding with "no comment" statements and now won't even mention Brunsdale's name, the candidate said in the convention's keynote address.
What's fair is fair, Brunsdale replied, referring to his opponent for the remainder of his speech as "Ole Whazizname."
Brunsdale's candidacy got a boost Saturday when the county teachers union endorsed his proposal to swap parcels of state land surrounded by federal park or wilderness land for similar federal parcels in oil- and gas-producing areas.
Joel Briscoe, president of the Davis Education Association, called the proposal, which Brunsdale estimates would generate an additional $20 million annually for education, "environmentally and fiscally sound."
Brunsdale said residents of the district, even Republicans, have been approaching him with issues that Hansen has either ignored or fumbled.
"It is allowing me to assemble an agenda for the 1st District that has been missing for a decade," said Brunsdale. "People are appreciating the positive legislative program we are presenting and coming to understand what a congressman who listens and has new ideas can do for them."
And the strategy that Brunsdale - a former legislative aide to Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah - is using of drawing up proposed bills and, with attendant publicity, sending to Hansen to introduce in Congress has drawn national attention, Brunsdale said.
In addition to the school funding land swap, Brunsdale called for Utah to get back a bigger share of federal gasoline tax revenue. Twenty cents of every dollar spent on gasoline goes into the federal highway trust fund, Brunsdale said, but Utah is one of only 13 states that got no special projects funded in the last highway appropriation bill.
Hansen ignored his suggestion on funding for U.S. 89 improvements, Brunsdale said, then "bungled his own attempt to get funding for Highway 89. Why can't he get it right? He's had five terms to practice."
Brunsdale suggested that Hansen's ineptness is because the congressman isn't "House trained."
The candidate said he's working on a proposal that would reroute the proposed natural gas pipeline, now slated to go through the foothills above Bountiful, on an existing pipeline corridor through eastern and southern Utah.
Hansen at first ignored requests from district residents to intervene in the pipeline issue, Brunsdale said, then told them five or six times he would introduce a bill to take care of it.
He did eventually introduce a bill, but it went nowhere because Hansen doesn't really oppose the pipeline route, Brunsdale charged. Quoting from a newsletter, Brunsdale said Hansen told California energy producers the pipeline will go through but may be moved only a few hundred feet from its current proposed route.
"In other words, he does not oppose the Wasatch Variation at all, he is just willing to supply the rhetoric necessary to get re-elected. Talking out of both sides of your mouth is a problem when your opponent is listening carefully enough to hear both conversations," Brunsdale said.