The issues facing candidates in two inner-city primaries and two rural Utah contests couldn't be more different, and true to demographics, whoever wins the Ogden City Democratic primary and the GOP primaries in eastern and southeastern Utah likely will go to the Utah House.
Rep. Jack Arrington, D-Ogden, seeks a ninth term to his central Ogden City district and is being challenged by fellow Democrat Betty Sawyer.
- Jack Arrington, 74, 1054 Rushton St., is retired from service in the military and Hill Air Force Base.
He points to his seniority on House committees and his long service with constituents and local government officials as his strengths. Before being elected to the House, Arrington served nine years on the Ogden City Council.
"I don't see great differences between Betty and me on the issues," he says. "We're both dedicated to helping Ogden City (as an entity) and our constituents."
Arrington said he's most proud of his constituent services. "I have a file of every person who has ever contacted me about a concern. When a bill comes up that I know they're concerned about, I don't hesitate in giving them a call or writing them a letter letting them know what's going on; getting their suggestions."
During the 45-day general legislative session, Arrington said, he holds weekly meetings with the Ogden Chamber of Commerce and Weber County officials, informing them of upcoming matters and seeking their advice.
Arrington said his 16-year seniority - one of the longest in the current House - can't be replaced. It is that seniority that gives him a seat on the all-powerful House Rules Committee, on several youth and sex-offender task forces and on the state retirement committee. "All, especially Rules, are important committee assignments, and you get that through seniority," Arrington says.
- Betty Sawyer, 1050 28th St., Ogden, is executive director of the Governor's Office of Black Affairs, a position she's held for six years.
Born and raised in Maryland, she's lived in Ogden for nearly 18 years. This spring she received her master's degree in public administration from the University of Utah.
Ogden has seen a decline in recent years, and Sawyer said she decided to run for the House after more and more of her friends and neighbors said they didn't think government could help them anymore.
"Things are just worse than they used to be - crime, the ability to make a decent living. We need some new ideas. My theme is `Share The Vision.' We can make adifference."
She decided to challenge 16-year incumbent Jack Arrington "because I think Jack has lost the vision; we need change; we need new solutions. To a degree, Jack has represented the people well. But I'm not sure he is innovative enough for today's challenges."
Sawyer said she's proven an effective leader in various endeavors. "I'm committed to change and to help the people of this city. This (running against a fellow Democrat) is just something I had to do."
Sawyer declined to list her age and did not submit a picture to the Deseret News.
- District 9 roughly covers southwest and central Ogden areas generally south of 1200 South and west of Gramercy Avenue, plus an area east to Harrison Boulevard between the Ogden River and 30th Street. The district's south and west boundaries are the Ogden city limits.
Eric Earley and Jesse Kemp seek the GOP nomination for House District 9, which lies in the heart of old Ogden.
- Eric Earley, 26, 3501 Adams No. 2, is an economics and political science major at Weber State University. Born in Riverside, Calif., he says he's lived in Ogden most of his life and knows the district well.
It's his knowledge of the district that's brought him into the race and drives his main theme: welfare reform. A national study placed only four Utah neighborhoods as at risk for crime, single-parent households, low-income and low education levels. "Three of those four neighborhoods lie fully within this district," says Earley. He has what some may see as a radical solution to the spiral of welfare dependency: Get government out of welfare altogether.
"I have been poor. I have been on food stamps." Through that experience, Earley said, he felt the guilt, the fall in self-esteem. "I'm a poor student, living mostly on student loans, yet I've gotten off of food stamps by watching my personal budget. I believe government actually creates poverty."
Welfare recipients and welfare workers both feed on the current system, he says. "What incentive is there for either the recipient or the worker to succeed?" The worker, if successful in getting all the caseload off welfare, would lose his or her job. The recipient gets money for not working. Both are trapped, he says.
Earley's answer is to turn government welfare over to private charities and churches. "Welfare is an addiction, just like cocaine. It hurts to get off cocaine. It will hurt to get off welfare, to end it as we know it." If Earley can win an election from a district that has so many welfare recipients, he says, he'll dedicate himself in the Legislature to change the system.
Earley did not submit a picture to the Deseret News.
- Jesse Kemp, 40, 2955 Orchard Ave., is a supervisor in a soft-drink bottling factory.
"My wife and I have always been involved in the neighborhood, Crime Watch, Little League baseball and the like. But we decided we had to get more involved, to really try to change things for our neighbors."
Kemp was born in Milwaukee and raised in Los Angeles. He's lived in Utah since 1972 and lived in his district since 1990.
"We're losing our constitutional rights, be they our parental rights, our religious rights or our right to bear arms."
Kemp said he is especially worried about "the explosion of youth crime. We see it not only in our Ogden neighborhoods, but in Salt Lake, too. So many involved with youth gangs - you didn't see that four or five years ago. We have to act. My wife and I have six children, ages 9 months to 10 years, and we believe all of us have to get involved to save the youth."
He believes that the current representative hasn't tried hard enough to keep district residents informed about legislative proposals. "You hear about something after it happens (in the Legislature). We don't have time to react, much less to have some input to what's being done. That is a main goal of mine, to keep the people in the district informed.
"They are passing laws that affect each of us, have a great impact on our lives. Yet we know so little of what's happening. We can have an effect on our lives, make them better. I want to try."
The primary election likely will decide the race for House District 55, which comprises all of Uintah and Daggett counties.
Incumbent Republican Dan Price is not seeking re-election, and there are no Democrats in the race, which leaves Republicans Jack A. Seitz, 61, and Rondal R. McKee, 56, to square off in a primary race that will likely take the victor into office without a challenger in the general election, unless a formidable write-in candidate emerges.
"Whoever wins this time probably won't have to worry much (about the general election), except to make the public appearances," Seitz said.
- Jack A. Seitz, an optometrist in Vernal since 1960, said he decided to run for the House seat because the Republican Party and other supporters asked him to, "and because I enjoy serving people."
Maintaining individual rights is a top item on his campaign platform. Utahns have seen enough gun control, he said, and he believes the federal government has already enacted enough gun-control legislation.
Economic development is also important to all of rural Utah and needs ongoing support in a Legislature dominated by the Wasatch Front, he said.
"We also need multiple use for public lands, even though we can't do a whole lot in the state other than fight because it's mostly federal land."
Seitz is a former member of the Uintah County School Board and served two terms on the Vernal City Council.
- Rondal R. McKee is an 11-year board member at the Central Utah Water Conservancy District and has served on several water company boards.
The Tridell, Uintah County, resident describes himself as a farmer, rancher and dairyman, operating with a primary interest in a family farm.
"I don't feel like there's a particular agenda that I feel like I'm seeking to go in and correct," he said of his decision to run for the House seat.
"I have a concern over the encroachment of federal regulations on our daily lives and feel that there is a need to be more involved on the local level as these regulations are implemented or decided upon," he said. "I have a strong feeling that states need to take a more active role in their determination. I'm a states rights advocate."
McKee said he also advocates an evaluation of economic and social impacts of environmental regulations. "I'm not against environmental issues per se; I just feel that there needs to be an equal look taken at how these regulations affect people."
Locked in a sea of federally owned lands, rural Utah faces myriad issues not faced by the rest of the state: multiple use of public lands, grazing rights, wildlife, water rights and a persistent loss of the traditional ranching way of life.
They are all issues being addressed by Tom Hatch and C. Kay Peterson, Republican candidates for House District 73 seat that has been held by retiring Rep. James Yardley, R-Panguitch. The winner will face American Party candidate M. Norman Gubler in the district comprised of eastern Washington, eastern Beaver, southern Sevier and all of Kane, Garfield, Piute and Wayne counties.
- Tom Hatch, a longtime Garfield County commissioner who chose not to run for re-election to that seat, says federal lands are the biggest issue in rural Utah, and there is probably not a lot of difference between his position and that of Peterson.
"It is always the same issues people here are talking about," he said. "You go to town meetings and you hear about wild and scenic rivers, desert tortoises and prairie dogs, federal regulations."
The Panguitch resident admits there is not a lot one state legislator can do about federal government bureaucrats, but if rural lawmakers join forces they stand a better chance of having their voices heard. "Rep. Met Johnson (R-New Harmony) has done a remarkable job rallying the state to get behind these issues. Even the governor is coming around to seeing that our way of life is threatened."
Among the most critical issues in rural Utah is water rights. "Water is the life blood of the West, especially in Utah," he said. "We have to maintain primacy over water, and not let out-of-state interests come in and take that from us."
Hatch said he also looks forward to working with the new institutional trust lands board, believing it has the potential to generate large sums of money for Utah schools to the relief of Utah property taxpayers.
The only real difference between Hatch and Peterson, he says, is the government experience. "I am further along the learning curve," Hatch said. "I think I could be effective right off the bat, where it would take someone new a year or two to get their feet under them."
Hatch, 44, has served on the Garfield County Commission the past 10 years. He also owns a title and escrow business in Panguitch, as well as a family cattle business with his brothers. He is married and has four children.
He sits on the Central Utah Water District board of directors, is past president of Utah Association of Counties, and has served on the Community Impact Board and the volunteer fire department.
- C. Kay Peterson is a longtime Wayne High School teacher and rancher who lives in Loa. He wants to preserve the unique rural way of life.
"I don't understand why anyone would want to change a good thing, and that's what southern Utah is - a good thing. It's small rural communities where grownups work hard and our young people learn honesty, integrity and hard work."
Peterson says he sees the changes going on in more populated areas, and he doesn't like what he sees. "Of course, some changes are good. But too many are not. You've seen a lot of these stories on TV and in the newspapers about gang activities and vandalism and crime."
If elected, Peterson says, his primary goal will be to "preserve our heritage."
Peterson describes himself as "rural as good alfalfa." He grew up working on a sheep ranch as a boy. He attended Snow College and Brigham Young University, and has spent the past 28 years as a science teacher at Wayne High. He is the father of six children.
He says the most pressing issues facing rural Utah are encroachment by special-interest groups, multiple use of public lands, water rights, education, tourism and growth, wildlife management, and violence and crime.
- District 73 includes eastern Washington County, as far west as State Street in LaVerkin and Main Street in Hurricane; Beaver, Minersville, Greenville and Manderfield in Beaver County; Elsinore, Joseph, Central, Sevier, Clear Creek Canyon, Koosharem and Burrville in Sevier County; and all of Kane, Garfield, Piute and Wayne counties.