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Utah County party leaders state their political cases

Published: Saturday, May 7 2011 11:36 p.m. MDT

OREM — The state's minority political party is hoping to raise awareness for the need for more balance in Utah politics.

Speaking Saturday at the Utah County Democratic Party Convention, chairman Will Matheson called Republican dominance in Utah County "really unhealthy," and added that such imbalance does not represent the people.

"It's not really representing what a majority of Utah voters want or need," he said. "It's deviating from their true values."

If people really want to be listened to, they need to start moving toward a two-party system, he said.

Matheson also commented on what he described as the misperception that the Republican Party is the political preference of the state's predominant faith — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"In Utah County, we're predominantly of one religion, that's just a matter of fact," he said. "When you look at our platform, any LDS member of the church can feel very confident in supporting that platform."

He went on to say the Democratic Party isn't trying to be a Mormon party.

"We don't represent the church, but the Republican Party doesn't represent the church either and ... the fact the people think the Republican Party does represent the church is completely wrong," Matheson said.

While he admitted that neither party should or does speak for the church, he said that Utah County Democrats hold many of the same ideals that are espoused for the LDS Church.

"We don't have the monopoly on Mormon values, but we're definitely closer than the Republican Party. That's just a fact," Matheson said. "Look at the immigration issue and the anti-discrimination orders; we're closer to what the church represents."

In response, the newly-elected chairman of the Utah County Republican party said he agreed that the GOP is not the preferred party of the LDS Church.

"The LDS Church has always stated its neutrality when it comes to the political process," said David Acheson. "The Republican Party fully recognizes and welcomes that neutrality."

Acheson added that both parties have the right to speak for themselves, but that each has the responsibility to stand behind their principles.

"The new Democratic leadership has a right to its opinion," he said.

As for whether one party dominance is healthy or not, Acheson said, "Utah voters show up at the polls with the right to vote for whomever they would like."

He said the fact that "election after election" the majority of candidates selected are Republican, "that result speaks for itself." 

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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