To incumbent Rep. Russell Cannon, R-Sandy, and his challenger, fellow Republican Greg Curtis, Tuesday's primary election is no initial step toward public office.It's the final vote.
They may be right. Democrats did not field a candidate in their district. And with a Libertarian, whose party historically hasn't fared well in state politics, as the only other choice on the November ballot, this GOP primary effectively will determine who will speak for Salt Lake County's District 49 in the state House of Representatives next year. The district includes northeast Sandy and south Little Cottonwood Creek Valley.
It will also be one of six House primary elections that county voters will decide Tuesday. The other races feature a Democrat and two Republican incumbents each facing interparty opponents. Voters will also determine the final election slate for Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake's District 27 and the GOP candidate for District 26, covering Salt Lake and West Valley cities.
County officials don't expect much of a turnout, primarily because it will be the first primary held in June. In the past, primaries were in September. The probability of a low turnout got varying responses from Curtis and Cannon.
"I don't think very many people realize this (the primary) could be the final outcome," Curtis said.
Cannon agreed but added that a low turnout typically favors the candidate with special-interest backing. Asked who he was referring to, Cannon said, "No one. I just threw that out as an observation."
But Curtis has been defending himself since the county convention against accusations that he was recruited by the powerful Utah Education Association, the state's largest teacher's union, which isn't happy with Cannon.
Curtis said he was approached by the UEA after he filed but didn't accept its endorsement until after the convention. "I am not concerned about being obligated (to the UEA)," he said. "There are definitely UEA issues I wouldn't support, such as increasing taxes for education."
So why did the 33-year-old attorney get involved in state politics? He told convention delegates that he owes it to Sandy, where he has lived for 18 years. And he told the Deseret News that he doesn't likeCannon's record on crime-related bills.
A prosecutor for West Jordan city, Curtis said Cannon's failed legislation to outlaw the sale of spray paint to minors was a misguided attempt to stamp out graffiti. He also said Cannon was one of just a few lawmakers to vote against bills that would have tightened criminal statutes against fraudulent fiduciaries and telephone solicitors.
But Cannon retorted that his graffiti measure is being studied. The fiduciary legislation didn't protect trustees carrying out the wishes of principals, he said, but he couldn't recall the telemarketing fraud bill.
Cannon, 65, 8967 Wild Willow Circle, is an attorney who lives in Sandy and is completing his first term in the House. He is vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and and sits on the Business, Labor and Economic Development standing committee and Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee.
Citing his support for Sandy, Cannon said he helped secure funding to begin work on the I-15 interchange at 9000 South, a congested gateway into Sandy's commercial district. He said he would push for further state funding to build Sandy's infrastructure.
Also related to economic growth, Cannon said he supports examination by a state task force into the state's local property tax assessment system. He said any adjustments should keep high taxes from forcing people out of their homes.
Curtis, 8639 Snowville Drive, said the state should also look into the use of existing technology to disperse the impact valleywide of property-value increases instead of targeting a different area every five years.
Although he claims no allegiance to the UEA, Curtis said education is a major concern to him. A product of Utah's public-school system, Curtis said the state must take measures to bring order into the classroom. Class-size reduction is important but expensive, he said, and efforts must also be made to separate disruptive students from those who want to learn.
- District 49 comprises Sandy and the unincorporated area northeast of the city, bounded by 1300 East on the west, 9400 South and Little Cottonwood Canyon Road on the south, about 3100 East on the east, and Little Cottonwood Creek Road on the north.
District 26 (R)
The Republicans vying for their party's spot on the November ballot for House District 26 are Gregory Paul Nance, 35, and David R. Hittle, 47. The district includes southwest Salt Lake City, northeast West Valley City and west South Salt Lake.
Nance enjoyed a 2-1 lead over Hittle at the Salt Lake County Republican convention. Both men are seeking elected office for the first time.
- Gregory Paul Nance, a real estate agent and landlord, said he was drawn into the race by his opposition to a bill Democratic incumbent Steve Barth introduced during the 1993 legislative session that would have imposed luxury taxes on aircraft, boats, furs, jewelry and cars. The tax would have fed the state's general fund.
The bill died before being debated by the House.
Nance said he opposes new taxes and believes the Legislature should not consider tax increases in years where there is a budget surplus.
Legislative priorities on Nance's agenda include crime issues and, more specifically, gang violence problems.
Criminals should bear responsibility for their crimes and incarceration where possible.
Taxpayers should not have to pay for problems caused by gang violence. "We should put them in the military or something and let them take care of themselves," he said.
Nance, 1080 W. 3300 South, said his campaign has been emphasizing issues relevant to the primary elections but considers Barth, who is also involved in a primary race, his main competitor.
- David R. Hittle is running on a fathers' rights platform. "As a divorced man, I am fully aware of the willful, methodical and flagrant discrimination against men in a divorce," he said. He also favors changes in the judicial system that would do away with retention elections for judges and allow them to compete with challengers on the regular ballot.
Hittle, a welder, also believes Workers' Compensation laws in Utah need further work, despite extensive reforms passed by the 1994 Legislature. He supports stiffer penalties for employer safety violations and wants to see a law requiring two 10-minute breaks for employees.
He also believes governmental immunity statutes are unfair, shielding government workers from accountability for their actions.
Hittle, 1252 W. Parkway Ave., considers himself "education friendly and labor friendly."
- District 26 includes southwest Salt Lake City, generally south of 400 South between I-15 and Redwood Road, plus part of south-central city east to 200 West south of 1300 South and east to 300 East between Westminster Avenue and 2100 South; northeast West Valley City, generally north of 3500 South, with a western boundary of 3200 West north of 2805 South and 2700 West south of 2935 South; and west South Salt Lake. The district's eastern boundary in South Salt Lake is State Street from 2100 South to 2700 South and West Temple south of 2700 South.
District 26 (D)
Incumbent Steve Barth is one of the youngest members of Utah's House, but that won't stop the first-term Democrat from running for re-election based on his experience. He is being challenged by political newcomer Randy Thad Nielsen for the Democratic nomination.
- Steve Barth is running for re-election because "I have demonstrated I can accomplish things in a largely Republican Legislature. Having bills passed during a special session is unheard of, but I did it. Same with having things on the governor's A list."
Barth says the most pressing issues in this Salt Lake district are the juvenile crime problems. Barth will be pushing a bill he tried last session that changes the way the juvenile courts are operated.
"It takes so dang long to get kids through the juvenile system, up to 11 or 12 offenses before they get help. I have convinced courts and police we will try on an experimental basis a move to a citation system for youth offenders, where they get a ticket with all the pertinent information. Then we expedite the system and get the kids through in a month's period of time, down from six or nine months."
Barth says he will continue to involve parents in the juvenile court process. "We can look at kids who commit crime and deal with it severely, but we need to get at those kids before they commit the crimes. We need to change the way society deals with it. We need to to get into the families. We can lock them up and throw away the key, or we can take preventive measures. That means families. I'm not talking about interfering with their home life, but a lot of parents could use the help and want the help."
Barth, 2546 S. Lake Park Circle, says one of his strongest assets is his ability to mend fences and compromise with both sides to get something done. He has a good working relationship with the governor and Republican leadership in the House.
"The fact is it is a Republican-dominated Legislature, and to effectively serve I have to have a good relationship with them, to find the middle ground," he said.
The 29-year-old Barth is a graduate from the University of Utah in political science. He works for Salt Lake County public works, is married and has no children. He is involved in Habitat for Humanity, the Weed and Seed program, Special Olympics and Friends of the Elderly.
- Randy Thad Nielsen believes government should do a better job of conducting the public's business in the open, saying the Legislature must open meetings now closed to the public, better disclose contributions from special interests and require lobbyists to disclose what they are doing to influence lawmakers.
"We should open up the Legislature," he says. "My opponent voted for the status quo."
Nielsen says the biggest issue in District 26 is the gang crime problem and the fear that now pervades the neighborhoods. Nielsen recently helped police nab some gang members shooting guns in an empty field, and now he fears retaliation for his involvement.
"I should not have to live with that," he said. "The juvenile justice system is just turning them out. It's catch and release."
Nielsen is also a strong advocate of the rights of citizens to possess firearms for their own protection. "I happen to believe in the Constitution and the Second Amendment. It bothers me to see (lawmakers) put the burden on law-abiding citizens. I personally feel I want that right to protect myself, more so now. The solution to the problem is not taking away from law-abiding citizens."
Nielsen said Barth's voting record indicates Barth is in favor of disarming law-abiding citizens. "His votes on gun control reflect a position away from what I would have supported," he said.
Nielsen is also in favor of allowing parents to choose schools for their children, injecting competition into the education system. He is also in favor of a severance tax on mineral, oil and gas extraction to fund Utah's public schools.
Nielsen, 41, 160 Layton Ave., is currently employed by Home Base in Murray and is a former public information officer for the Division of Wildlife Resources. He is actively involved in wildlife causes.
- The November ballot will have three candidates from District 26: the Nielsen-Barth winner, the Nance-Hittle winner and Libertarian Michele C. Short.
District 27 (D
The south-central neighborhoods of Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake face problems like crime and gangs but don't always have the resources to cope.
Which is why crime and youth gangs are so much on the minds of both Democratic candidates seeking to succeed Rep. Ronald Greensides, D-South Salt Lake, who lost on the first ballot at the county Democratic convention. But that's about all Glen W. Haner and Loretta Marie Lourdes Baca have in common.
- Glen W. Haner, a 40-year-old roofing contractor, says juvenile crime is everyone's concern. "People are frustrated because youth are walking scott free. Nothing is being done to fight the war. They just see the police continually setting people free."
Haner is also opposed to the heavy-handedness of redevelopment agencies in the South Salt Lake area who use eminent domain to force long-time residents to sell their homes for less than fair market value "all in the name of economic development, so that big business can have the property for a song."
But the biggest frustration in the district is that lawmakers are listening more to big business and special interests than they are to the people in their districts. "I am running a no-contributions campaign," he said. "The only promise I can make, if elected, is that I will owe special interests no favors."
Haner supports opening up the secret Rules Committee, and supports better disclosure of campaign contributions and lobbyist information. "I also would like to see the playing field leveled so all people have equal access to legislators, so that VIPs cannot walk behind closed doors and get audience with the lawmakers."
Haner says the biggest difference between him and his opponent is their supporters. He says the Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats are actively opposing his election bid, as are abortion-rights advocates.
"The people who are supporting her, as far as I can tell, are very, very adamant about keeping me out. Because I am pro-life and pro-family, they are quick to call me a right-winger."
Haner, 1521 S. West Temple, is married and has three children. He is the owner of Paradigm Roofing and is active as a concerned citizen in local issues.
- Loretta Baca's campaign is focused more on victims of crime and how the state can do more to protect the victims of crime. She cites a recent experience in which a man exposed himself to her, but even after she identified him to police the officers refused to arrest the man.
"I had to fight the police to get him arrested," she said. "These are dangerous people, time bombs waiting to explode. These are people who are raping or are getting ready to rape. But police are not arresting them."
A victims-rights advocate, Baca says violence is definitely a major issue in her district. "We do have a lot of crime here, and we need more community involvement to address it. A lot of people think we need more policemen, but I am thinking more of education on those issues involving violence and dispelling myths."
The Colorado native is currently taking classes through the University of Utah's Graduate School of Social Work and sits on the 3rd District Victims Rights Committee. She also teaches victims rights and issues at the 3rd District Juvenile Court.
In addition to crime, Baca is focusing her campaign on affordable-housing issues, including the replacement of housing demolished through development. "I know we are getting some housing, but we need affordable housing," she said.
And education is an issue, particularly safety in the schools for teachers and students. She supports waivers for school books, lab fees, school lunches and sports for those families who can't afford the cost.
And Baca pledges to meet monthly with citizens from her district to determine what their most pressing needs are. "The state should work more with the community, too," she said, adding that citizens groups would be willing to take a proactive role in deterring crime with financial assistance from the state.
Baca, 2275 S. 200 East, is 31 and engaged to be married. She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado. She has never run for political office before.
- District 27 includes south-central Salt Lake City and east South Salt Lake. The district's north boundary is 400 South; the west boundary is State Street north of 900 South, 200 West from 900 South to 1700 South, irregular to 2100 South, State Street from 2100 South to 2700 South and West Temple from 2700 South to 3300 South; the eastern boundary jogs between 1000 East and 400 East from 400 South to 1500 South, is 500 East from 1500 South to Mill Creek and is State Street from Mill Creek to 3300 South; the southern boundary is 3300 South.
The Democratic primary winner will face Republican Joseph L. Toronto and Libertarian Dee Wolfe in November.
District 38 (R)
Republicans contending for incumbent Democrat Arlo James' seat in the Kearns area are Sue Lockman, 46, and Jim Bird, 38. James is seeking re-election and won the Democratic nomination after eliminating one opponent in the county convention.
- Sue Lockman has taken strong positions against tax increases, gun control and light rail. She also believes the judicial system needs to be "upgraded and streamlined" and that attracting the Winter Olympics is only a good idea if taxpayers are fully in favor of it.
"I will work to hold the line on taxes. The people of Utah are at the limit of what they can be reasonably expected to pay. Government has an obligation not to collect any more revenue than is absolutely necessary," she said.
Juveniles who commit adult crimes should be tried as adults. She supports programs to assist at-risk youth but not at the cost of Constitutional rights. "Police work is only easy in a police state," she said.
Criminals do not obey laws, making gun control ineffective as crime control. Light rail is a bad idea because it would not serve Salt Lake County's needs as well as other options.
And there is always a concern about balancing the needs of education with the taxpayers' ability to pay. "I do not support higher taxes. I support parental involvement and choice."
Lockman, 5156 Highwood Drive, formerly worked for an accounting company and now is a homemaker. She supports early-childhood education programs like Head Start. "An at-risk child who is helped early is much more likely to have a successful school experience and avoid criminal behavior later on."
Attracting the Winter Olympics would likely cost the state money. "Do we wish to leave the tax burden of building and maintaining Olympic facilities to our children? This issue should be decided by the fully informed voters."
- Jim Bird is the owner of an insurance agency called Oak Leaf Financial who said he has been active as a party district chairman and state and county delegate. This is his first election season as a candidate.
The top three items on his campaign platform are education, gang violence and local government issues.
He would like to support school needs by reducing school class size, finding equal funding support for schools, encouraging business partnerships and "keeping gang problems out and respect for teachers in."
"Real crime deserves real time," he said. "Gang members know the juvenile justice system is a revolving door. I will work to establish more prison space and impose stiffer penalties for gang violence."
The philosophy of "spend it or lose it" needs to change to hold the line on taxes. Surpluses should be invested, and government should run more like a business. Bird said he could work toward his current legislative objectives without a tax increase.
Bird, 5864 S. Tressler Road, opposes gun control. On abortion issues, he considers himself pro-life.
- The district includes Kearns areas between 4000 West and 5600 West from 4700 South to 5600 South, plus parts of south Kearns to 6200 South between 4000 West and 4800 West.
District 50 (R)
The incumbent representing South Jordan, southwest Sandy and small portions of south West Jordan and northwest Draper faces the man who used to represent the area.
- Clark Reber, 57, a South Jordan resident and owner of several small family businesses, is completing his third term in the House. He was first elected in 1982 and served two terms. He won again in 1992.
Reber said his primary issues are holding down property taxes and government growth. House chairman of the Transportation and Public Safety committee and a member of the Corrections appropriations committee, he also has interest in tackling transportation and juvenile-justice issues.
"The problem with property taxes is the system assumes that when value goes up people also have the ability to pay taxes on the increase in value," Reber said. "That really hurts people on fixed incomes."
He doesn't know how it could be done, but he would like to adjust the system so that the property tax is not directly linked to appraised values or include a mechanism that would "level out" price fluctuations.
He supported this year's sales-tax cut but is still troubled about the across-the-board spending increases built into state budgets each year without the Legislature's input. "I would rather deal with a base budget and make adjustments from there," he said.
Reber, 11324 S. 445 West, is opposed to light rail, but would favor another form of transit to complement the widening of I-15 and expansion of other main Salt Lake County routes. A gasoline tax to cover transportation construction could be justified if state spending in all other areas is brought under control.
He doesn't support gun control as a solution to growing youth crime. But he recognizes the need for additional youth corrections facilities, although he cautions against building expensive buildings that provide criminals more comfort than people living below the poverty level. He supports youth work camps as part of the youth crime solution as long as they are not "little Girl Scout fun and games."
He did not submit a picture to the Deseret News.
- Reber stepped back into state politics when Lloyd Frandsen stepped out in 1992 after five years in the House. But now Frandsen, a 46-year-old South Jordan resident and owner of a private insurance claims processing firm, is back challenging his successor and touting his past record as a lawmaker advocating education, crime reduction, and open and efficient government.
Frandsen also is intrigued by health care reform and the governor's own initiatives. "My main concern is to use marketing rather than a regulatory approach," he said. "I would favor a marketing approach using the private sector that's compatible with the governor's program."
Frandsen, 9461 S. 2700 West, said education groups and others with education agendas were among those who encouraged him to run. He cites his past support and involvement in capital spending equalization programs and early intervention for troubled students.
"I support trying to intervene early and getting all agencies to cooperate and coordinate their services," he said.
Concerning property taxes and protests over the current assessment methods, Frandsen said technology should be able to make county-wide adjustments and alleviate the problem of assessment cycles shocking homeowners in certain areas of the county every five years.
Government growth should not outpace private economic growth, Frandsen said. But he cautions against capping government spending because the likely victim of such a move would be education.
That type of decision, however, should be made in open meetings, Frandsen said. "The party in power needs to be responsible and accountable," he said, noting that closing Rules Committee meetings lends itself to "manipulation by a few."
- District 50 encompasses all of South Jordan; southwest Sandy, south of 9000 South and generally west of 300 East; an area of Sandy between 9800 South and 10600 South extending east to 700 East; the southeast corner of West Jordan, south of 9000 South and east of 2700 West; a small area of West Jordan between 4300 West and 4800 West north to U-48; and the northwest corner of Draper, north of 12300 South and west of I-15.
The Democratic candidate on the general-election ballot will be R. Stephen Jensen, who had no intraparty opposition.
During the 10 days preceding the primary election June 28, the Deseret News is publishing a series of articles on candidates and the issues they are discussing.
See Page B4 for information on state House of Representatives primary races in Salt Lake County.
In coming days you'll see the following stories:
Wednesday: State Senate Salt Lake County surveyor
Thursday: Davis sheriff