Until four years ago, Republicans held four of the seven state House of Representative seats in Salt Lake City. But three Republican incumbents have lost to Democratic challengers the past two elections, leaving Rep. Afton Bradshaw the lone Republican representing a Salt Lake City district.
Republicans have nominated strong challengers in two districts: government investor Kimball Young against freshman Rep. David Jones in District 27, and law student Marianne Stoddard against Minority Whip Frank Pignanelli in District 23.
In three other races Nov. 6, however, Republicans have no candidates to run against Democratic incumbents: Ted Lewis is unopposed, and Paula Julander and Bart Grant face third-party opponents.
Democrat Ted Lewis is unopposed in his re-election bid. A corporate attorney, Lewis, 41, has served four terms in the House of Representatives.
Lewis opposes removal of the sales tax on food. "I have previously introduced legislation that would provide a credit against income tax for some portion of sales tax. That's a better, more flexible way to approach the problem."
If the tax is removed, Lewis said, phasing in the removal would be a must. "Because I am not in favor of reducing any other programs, I believe it would be necessary to ask voters to remove the constitutional earmark of income taxes so income taxes could be used."
Because most of the surplus is in income taxes, he said, removal of the earmark that designates revenue for education would be necessary to protect social service programs.
District 22 includes the Rose Park and Fairgrounds areas of Salt Lake City, from North Temple to 1800 North between I-15 and I-215.
Democrats wrested the seat from Republicans four years ago, and Rep. Frank Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, made the most of it. He is now the second-ranking Democrat in the Utah House.
But Republican challenger Marianne Stoddard wants House District 23 back in Republican hands.
- Marianne Stoddard, who is seeking a law degree, is opposed to removal of the sales tax from food because of the potentially devastating impact that would have on state and local services.
"I believe that the tax system should be fair," she said. "In the context of an overall review of the tax structure, some reduction or revisions might be appropriate."
If the initiative does pass, Stoddard says, services will have to be cut or other taxes raised. "All aspects of state government and methods of taxation would need to be analyzed in an effort to reach an equitable and workable compromise," she said.
Stoddard adds that current budget constraints put the state in no position to hold the Olympics, and says both state and local governments will face painful decisions if the food tax is removed.
Should there be a budget surplus, Stoddard prefers the money be spent on computer technology for schools, removal of asbestos from schools and earthquake-proofing of schools.
The greatest challenge facing state government, she says, is to set priorities for the needs of education, human services, public safety, environment and economic development and to satisfy those priorities through an equitable system of taxation.
"Enhancing the economic base at an accelerated rate through programs designed to encourage and support growth in the private sector is a critical part of this process," she said.
On the abortion issue, Stoddard believes current state laws are sufficient and that Utah cannot afford to become involved in a Supreme Court test case on the issue. "We should be finding ways to educate the public with solutions to this dilemma before it happens," she said.
Stoddard has had a banking career with Valley Bank and has been involved in numerous volunteer projects, including the Governor's Commission for Women.
- Frank Pignanelli would like to support the removal of sales tax from food, a tax he calls "terribly regressive." But the wording of the initiative does not allow for a smooth transition to prevent cuts in important state services.
"The resulting cuts in social services will end up hurting the very people proponents of the initiative are trying to help," he said.
If the initiative should pass, Pignanelli favors phasing it in over a period of three to five years, as well as removing sales-tax exemptions that benefit the wealthy. And local governments would have to consider additional revenue sources or budget cuts to compensate for shortfalls.
The major problem facing state government is "providing needed services with scarce dollars and at the same time to adjust the tax system to make it fair for the middle- and lower-income families," he said. "The state needs to restructure the tax system that will both make it fair and capture a greater revenue from the wealthy."
Pignanelli, an attorney, says there is a crisis in health-care delivery to the disabled and the elderly, and says that increasing student enrollment is putting additional burdens on public and higher education.
If there is a budget surplus, Pignanelli says, it should go to higher education and public education, both of which are underfunded, as are health and social services.
Pignanelli says he is opposed to abortion but supports Utah's law as it is written. He opposes passing more restrictive legislation that could result in costly court tests.
Pignanelli, the House minority whip, was first elected to the seat in 1986 and quickly garnered a reputation as outspoken. He is involved in several volunteer activities.
- Libertarian candidate Clayton Butler did not respond to the Deseret News questionnaire or return phone calls.
District 23 comprises Capitol Hill and the western sections of the Avenues and Central City. It includes the area north of 900 South between State Street and I-15, plus the Avenues area west of I Street between South Temple and 13th Avenue.
Candidates in District 24 agree on several issues, but they have a basic philosophical difference.
Challenger David B. Smith, 34, a Libertarian candidate, wants to see many government functions returned to the private sector.
Incumbent Democrat Paula F. Julander, 51, believes Utah has critical health-care, education and social service needs that must be supported.
Smith, who is a cook, wants to see the sales tax removed from food because "I feel the food tax places an unfair burden on consumers." If that creates a revenue shortfall, he supports phasing in the removal and also would "place many present government functions to private industry."
Julander, a registered nurse, doesn't like sales tax on food. But "until the majority party in Utah is willing to overhaul the tax system from regressive to progressive, making it fair for all citizens, I cannot support the initiative." She said removal would cost the state revenue needed for critical programs. She wants to see local governments given the authority to "make up the revenue from other sources within their jurisdictions" if a shortfall is created.
Smith said he would return any multimillion-dollar surplus to the taxpayers "to reduce their tax burden and not increase next year's government budget."
Julander would "use it for critical needs where one-time money will not lead to an annual obligation or expectation," including a Children's Justice Center, infrastructure needs and acquisitions for state-supported libraries.
Julander would not change Utah's abortion laws. Smith said, "Since the unborn child is human life, I only favor abortions in cases of rape, incest or health of the mother."
Both candidates oppose flag-burning, but neither would support a constitutional amendment to prevent it.
Smith didn't discuss the "major problem facing state government," which Julander said is the need to fund "the legitimate needs of the state." Among those needs, she said, are basic health care for all citizens, education and clean air and water.
District 24 includes the north and east Avenues - everything north of 13th Avenue and everything east of I Street - plus an area from Central City and the University of Utah, east of 400 East between South Temple and 400 South.
Candidates for the House of Representatives in District 25 have little disagreement on key issues being discussed this election.
Democratic Rep. Joanne R. Milner, who is seeking a third term, agrees with the "concept of removing sales tax on food because of its regressive nature. Individuals and families with limited resources pay more of their available income on food sales tax than do those with higher earnings." She said the state needs to take another look at the tax structure to relieve unfair burdens. Milner said state budgets should be examined for waste and employees encouraged to boost productivity and eliminate waste.
Independent challenger Bart Grant said removal of the tax is up to the voters, but he favors it. Passage of the initiative, he said, need not cause other taxes to be raised or the reduction of essential services. "I strongly believe that we have not been told the truth about budget surpluses. By January, the budget surplus will be large enough to compensate for the loss of this regressive tax."
Both candidates want to see private industries, which they say are most likely to benefit if the Olympics are held in Utah, pick up more of the cost of the Games.
Grant, 31, a computer security analyst, said costs could be reduced if plans to expand the Salt Palace were eliminated and the existing facility was used to attract the "size of events that are suited to our facility and our city." He also would set aside an additional small portion of sales tax for local governments.
Milner, 33, a public relations consultant, would use budget surpluses to restore and maintain "essential human-needs programs that promote self-sufficiency." Grant said that after removal of food tax is figured in, he wants to see all areas of the state government share equally in surpluses.
Grant opposes public funding of abortions performed as birth control. Milner would not oppose abortions if health of the mother was threatened or in cases of rape and incest.
Both oppose flag-burning but do not see the need for a constitutional amendment to correct the problem.
District 25 comprises much of west Salt Lake City. It is bounded by 2100 South on the south, Redwood Road on the west and North Temple on the north. The eastern boundary is I-15 north of 900 South and State Street south of 900 South.
Blaze Wharton, Democrat incumbent since 1981, favors removal of the food tax. "Sales tax on food is the most regressive tax we have. It is an unfair tax and hurts the poor- and moderate-income people the most. It is extremely unfair to senior citizens and those on fixed incomes."
Wharton, 34, is a political consultant who would have the state absorb the lost revenue through the current fiscal surplus, by ending "unfair business deductions" and increasing luxury taxes.
The shortfall to local governments could be made up by allowing counties to increase their portion of other state sales taxes, Wharton said.
Wharton supports the Supreme Court's decision in Roe vs. Wade on the question of abortion. He would support a constitutional amendment banning desecration of the American flag.
Wharton believes the main issue facing state government is meeting the needs of the state without unduly taxing citizens "by developing long-range goals and ensuring that our actions will make sense in the long run and not just what is politically expedient at the time."
American Party candidate Loren Hancock, 86, is a retired carpenter who said removal of the sales tax on food "may help but will not solve the problem and will probably cause expense and problems in other areas.
The real problems, he said, are "deficit spending, giving subsidies, debt money and usurpation of state rights," all being done by "federal Congress contrary to the American Constitution." Subsidies to a small group "always work a hardship on the rest of the population." Congress, he said, has the power to do something about it, if it would.
Hancock would consider abortion acceptable only in cases of rape or incest. He is opposed to flag-burning and would support a constitutional amendment to prohibit the desecration.
Hancock, who became a naturalized citizen in 1958, has been active as a state and county delegate in several elections and served as chairman of his voting district.
M.R. Weiler, the Republican candidate for the position, did not complete a Deseret News survey. And despite repeated calls to his house, the newspaper was unable to reach him for comment.
District 26 includes the Liberty Park and southeast Central City areas - generally between 200 South and 2100 South from State Street to 900 East.
Republicans held the seat for years until a Democrat took it away two years ago. And now Republicans want House District 27 back.
Republican Kimball Young, a vice president of public finance at Boettcher & Co., will challenge incumbent David Jones, D-Salt Lake, in what promises to be one of the hottest legislative races of the year. Also in the race is Libertarian candidate Jim Billingsley.
- David Jones says he opposes removing the sales tax from food because the tax cut would mean program cuts in social services and higher education. "The removal of the sales tax on food will likely result in a net reduction in higher education funding of $6 million. This could cause irreparable damage to institutions like the University of Utah," he said.
If the initiative to remove the sales tax does pass, Jones favors phasing it in over three to five years, with cities and counties also given time to review their budgets and consider other revenue sources.
The major problem facing the state, Jones said, is education reform. The bureaucracy has grown too large, while the decision-making has become too centralized. "As a result, far too few of our education dollars actually reach the classroom," he said.
He favors eliminating or drastically reducing the size of the state Office of Education and giving local school boards and advisory boards broad discretionary powers in determining how education money is spent.
Jones favors Utah's current abortion laws, saying it is a bad idea to make them more restrictive in hopes of Utah becoming a test case for a Supreme Court decision. And he supports spending any budget surplus on underfunded education, health or social services needs.
Jones, 39, is president of Life Designs, a firm specializing in health-care and living facilities for seniors. He is involved in numerous volunteer activities.
- Kimball Young, 44, also opposes removing the sales tax from food because the result would be a tax shift, not a tax cut, he said. But if anticipated budget surpluses are large enough, Young would support removal of the sales tax on food.
"I am against increasing other taxes" to make up any resulting shortfall, he said. He also supports giving local governments other taxing options to make up the lost revenue.
If the sales tax on food is not removed, Young supports spending any state surplus on higher education, social services and corrections.
Unlike Jones, Young favors a more restrictive abortion law that would allow abortions only to save the life of the mother, rape, incest or fatal fetal defects.
The most important issue facing state government, Young said, is "facilitating economic growth to result in many new higher-paying jobs for Utahns. More jobs means fewer Utahns leaving or unemployed, as well as additional revenues for our schools and other state and local services. The solution is spurring the economy, not the taxpayer."
Young previously served as a community council chairman and a member of the Salt Lake City Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, among other volunteer activities.
- Jim Billingsley is the only one of the three candidates who categorically supports removing the sales tax on food, calling it "a move in the right direction. Food tax is on the ballot, and a lot of people worked awful hard to get it there, and I support it."
He notes that sales, income and gasoline taxes are well above national averages, too, and he supports a reduction of income tax rates, coupled with limited dependent deductions, or a reduction in the overall sales-tax rate.
If the initiative to remove the sales tax on food does pass, Billingsley believes revenue shortfalls could be made up through cuts in out-of-state travel, the Heber Creeper, Utah Transit Authority light-rail right-of-way acquisition, Salt Palace, the state Office of Education and other "perks."
Local governments could make up revenue shortfalls through consolidation of services.
"The major problem facing state government is its inability to control spending," he said. "Government has become a self-serving monster bureaucracy that won't say no to special-interest groups such as the Utah Education Association, the UTA, prison administration, etc. Instead of providing basic services, government has built empires in areas it has no legitimate role."
On other issues, any budget surplus, Billingsley said, should be returned to the taxpayers. And he supports abortion only in cases where the life of the mother is in danger, but he also strongly favors better educational efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Billingsley, 32, is a mechanical engineer.
District 27 is on Salt Lake City's east side, between 500 South and 1300 South and east of 900 East.
Both Rep. Afton Bradshaw, R-Salt Lake, and Robert Adams, her Democratic opponent, oppose the initiative to take the sales tax off food because there is no agreement on how the lost revenue would be replaced.
"If an equitable plan for replacing the revenue were in place, I could favor the removal. Without that, it is too drastic," said Bradshaw, a three-term representative.
Adams, who unsuccessfully challenged Bradshaw two years ago, said he could not support removing the sales tax from food "until methods for covering revenue shortfalls have been determined."
They also agree that if voters approve the initiative, the removal of sales tax from food should be phased in to soften the blow to state and local budgets. However, the initiative as it appears on the ballot would remove all sales tax from food purchases as of July 1, 1991.
Both say education is the state's biggest concern. "The major problem facing Utah continues to be funding the education of the largest student population per capita in America. We need to broaden the tax base to pay for it," Bradshaw said.
Adams said that to pay for a quality education the state should "appropriate funds into the critical areas, i.e. special education not the ski industry" and make sure lands held in trust for education are properly managed.
The pair differ on whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to ban the desecration of the American flag. Adams said he would vote to ratify such an amendment.
But Bradshaw isn't so sure. "I get a lump in my throat when the flag goes by, and feel that desecration of the flag is abhorrent, but we cannot give up freedom," she said, calling for careful consideration before amending the Constitution.
On the issue of abortion, Bradshaw said she would allow legal abortions only in cases of "rape, incest, fatal fetal defects or when the mother is in danger."
Adams answered the question of under what circumstances he would allow legal abortions by saying, "as determined by my constituency." He did not state his personal views.
Bradshaw lists her occupation as a homemaker and partner in a real estate development company. Adams lists his as executive director of a teachers association and arbitrator.
House District 28 covers an east Salt Lake City area generally between 1300 South and 2100 South, east of 1100 East.