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Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Questions we've been asked over a decade of writing

Published: Sunday, Dec. 15 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

P/W: In many ways we are very different. Frank is a third-generation Italian-Irish-Catholic-Democrat who waves his arms in an animated fashion whenever he talks or even breathes. LaVarr is a typical Utah Mormon with Republican roots who is much more shy and reserved. (Frank entertains, LaVarr informs.) Both are devoted to their families, take a mainstream approach to politics and share a great love for Utah.

Do you like each other?

Pignanelli: As a twisted demon, I enjoy fabricating creative insults to hurl at LaVarr. Yet, I respect his talents, political acumen and humanity. LaVarr is fulfilling an ecclesiastical calling for the LDS Church in the heart of Salt Lake City. Every day he encounters poverty, mental illness, homelessness, addiction and other great tragedies of society, and offers victims hope. He performs more works of charity in one day than most of us do in a year.

Webb: Frank exaggerates a lot. But other than that, poking fun at Frank is like being the proverbial mosquito in a nudist colony — so much to choose from. In reality, Frank is a consummate political professional who, even as a lobbyist, cares deeply about good public policy, tells his clients and policymakers the truth, and seeks to make Utah a better place to live.

What's the biggest payback you have for writing the column?

P/W: For Frank, a comment to the effect of "you make me laugh" means everything, because he does not expect to persuade anyone to his opinion. For LaVarr, it is simply helping people understand politics a bit better from the perspective of 40 years of political observation.

Will you be writing for another 10 years?

P/W: This will be a true test of the charity and forbearance of Deseret News management. If there's hope for wayward children, we may be around for a while.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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