All five incumbents are seeking re-election to state House of Representative seats in districts representing West Valley City and neighboring communities.
Four of the legislators are Democrats, and the fifth, Rep. Hugh Rush, was elected in 1988 as a Democrat but changed parties earlier this year. He is opposed this year by Democrat Neal B. Hendrickson, who has been a school-employees union leader.
Two others districts - now represented by Democrats Bob Anderton and Allan C. Rushton - have swung between parties the past decade. So Republican candidates Clay I. Petersen Jr. and Mitch Barker hold the best chances for the GOP to win more seats in the area.
Rep. Bob Anderton, the incumbent Democrat, and Clay I. Petersen Jr., Republican candidate for the post, are on opposite sides of the food sales-tax issue.
A sales engineer who deals in water and sewage treatment equipment, Anderton, 48, represents sections of Taylorsville-Bennion and West Valley City. He says he has favored removal of sales tax from food since he first ran for office.
"I resent the Republican leadership position that they will `punish' program funding if the initiative passes. . . . It doesn't have to be that way . . . they just want it to be," Anderton said.
Petersen, 44, West Valley City, a health physicist for the state Health Department, said he supports the "Republican platform and the governor (in opposing the initiative to remove the food sales tax). As a rule, however, I'm opposed to regressive taxes, and the sales tax definitely a regressive tax."
If voters decide to remove the food sales tax, Petersen said he would recommend that property taxes be changed from buildings and property value to strictly property value. "That would lower the tax on the individual homeowner and increase the tax on high-value land, which would include land owned by so-called slumlords."
Petersen said this idea also could apply to dealing with a funding shortfall to local governments.
In dealing with a revenue shortfall Anderton would favor increasing the remaining general sales tax approximately one-quarter percent and eliminating some of the present tax exclusions.
Concerning a funding shortfall to local governments, Anderton said he would support reallocating distribution percentages to fairly offset losses, using increased sales tax income.
If there's a multimillion-dollar state surplus and it's from uniform school funds, Anderton said, the surplus should be used to fund education. If it's general-fund money it could be used to restore programs and to catch up on capital-facilities needs, he said.
Petersen says he doesn't favor returning surplus funds to the taxpayer. "However, I would favor reducing taxes slightly so the surplus could be used in the normal course of state government. . . . I wouldn't like to see one huge rebate or one huge tax cut that would eliminate the money immediately."
Regarding legal abortions, Anderton says he believes in "the maximum individual choice," while Petersen says he's against abortion unless a mother's life is in danger or in cases of rape.
The major problem facing the state? Anderton says it's need for "sustained and steady growth of our economy." Petersen says it's education. He favors removing "problem children" from classrooms, enforcing discipline and reducing class disruption.
District 49 is bounded by 4000 West on the west, approximately 1500 West on the east and 4100 South on the north. Its southern border is 4700 South east of 3200 West and 5400 South west of 3200 South.
The three candidates take divergent views on the effects of the initiative on the ballot Nov. 6 that would remove sales tax from food.
Republican challenger Mitch Barker, 30, an attorney, said he worries that removing the sales tax would hurt education, the poor and the battle against crime.
"If the people vote for removal of the tax, I believe their message would be a tax decrease, not a tax shift. My first priority would be cutting services rather than shifting taxes," Barker said.
Four-year incumbent Allan C. Rushton, 51, a Democrat and machine operator at the Kennecott Refinery, believes that the initiative is "probably the only way that the working class can get a tax break." At the same time, he thinks giving a tax credit for food purchases is a better idea.
American Party candidate Janet Mantle Ericson, a teacher, homemaker and licensed practical nurse, said she favors the sales-tax-removal initiative.
"The Constitution doesn't tell us that the Legislature can tax us" except for defense, she said.
All three are vying for the seat that represents the south-central part of West Valley City.
While Barker favors cuts if the sales tax on food is removed, Rushton said would respond by adjusting income-tax brackets or deductions.
Ericson said she would "use the Constitution as a guide" and cut as many services as possible.
When asked about the food tax removal's potential affect on local governments, Utah Transit Authority and Utah's Olympic funding, Rushton said he would use an income-tax credit that would only come from the uniform school fund to help make up shortfalls in those areas. Barker said he would try to equalize the "suffering" throughout all areas.
Ericson said she wouldn't care about cutting Olympic funding but would have to think carefully about cuts to UTA.
"I'm a bus rider. I don' know how I would handle it," she said.
All three agree that abortion should be allowed only when the health of the mother is at risk. In addition, Barker and Ericson would allow abortions from pregnancies resulting from incest and rape.
They disagree about flag burning. Rushton said he wouldn't support a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. Barker and Ericson would.
When asked what the biggest problem facing state government is, Ericson said there is too much government involvement in people's lives and not enough individual responsibility.
Barker criticizes the attitude of some state regulatory agencies. For example, he said, the state has driven programs that help troubled youths out of business.
Rushton said the biggest problem is education and youth criminal activities.
District 50 covers an area from 4000 West to about 5400 West between 3500 South and 4700 South.
Democrats won the election, but lost the seat. And now they want it back, in a big way.
Rep. Hugh Rush was first elected to the House as a Democrat. But partway through his term, Rush jumped ship and joined the Republican fold. He is now running as a Republican incumbent in a seat Democrats feel is rightfully theirs.
Rush will be challenged by Democrat Neal B. Hendrickson. The district, most of which is in West Valley City, traditionally swings between Republicans and Democrats.
Also joining the race is Libertarian candidate Jerry Dixon.
- Hugh Rush is opposed to removing the sales tax from food, saying it "would hurt the poor and low-income groups. Schools would also suffer loss of income." Rush does favor a three- to five-year phase-out of the food tax.
If the tax initiative does pass, Rush said, there would be no choice but to cut state services proportionately and state government would be in no position to pick up shortfalls that result to local governments, the Utah Transit Authority and the Winter Olympics.
If a budget surplus should become a reality, Rush said, most should be earmarked for education, though human services should not be ignored.
On the issue of abortion, Rush favors more restrictive laws that would allow abortion only in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is threatened. He does not favor abortion as a birth-control method.
The major issue facing state government, Rush said, is that revenue projections and program needs are on a collision course. "Departments must live within appropriated dollars and not come back for supplemental (appropriations) at the end of each year," he said.
Rush is a retired furniture manufacturer and a former educator. He has served two terms in the House and has been active in West Valley civic affairs for 27 years.
- Neal B. Hendrickson also opposes the removal of sales tax from food, saying state government could probably survive, but city and county governments would be affected the heaviest.
If taxpayers do vote to remove the sales tax from food, then all programs on state and local levels would have to be cut across the board.
If the initiative fails and the 1991 Legislature has the luxury of a budget surplus, Hendrickson says, it should go toward education. Education, he said, is the major problem facing the state, including reducing administrative costs, restructuring the system and allowing more local control.
On the issue of abortion, Hendrickson supports allowing legal abortions only in case of rape, incest or the health of the mother. He also opposes any infringement upon a person's right of expression when it comes to burning of the American flag.
Hendrickson, 40, is a school bus driver and a swim school operator. He has been involved with the Days of '47 Rodeo Committee, was vice president of the Utah School Employees Association and president of the Granite Classified Employees Association. He also has been a lobbyist for the Utah School Employees Association.
- Jerry Dixon, a Libertarian, opposes removing the sales tax on food but does support a head tax as a way of dealing with the state's fiscal crisis. If the sales-tax initiative should pass, Dixon proposes compensating for revenue shortfalls by eliminating dependent exemptions on income-tax returns.
On a local level, Dixon said, bus fares would have to be raised and the Olympics movement privatized. And if there is a budget surplus, he supports an income-tax rebate.
The major problem facing the state, Dixon said, is the "socially domineering image and excess taxation" and that personal property taxes and school taxes on real estate should be eliminated.
He also wants to see the Legislature pass the Liquor Reform Act, deregulate sexually oriented businesses and privatize social and charitable government-supported organizations.
Dixon, 39, is an accountant who also operates the Utah Singles Association, which promotes singles social events in Utah.
District 51 comprises southeast West Valley City and a small portion of east Taylorsville. It's bounded by 4000 on the west, the Jordan River on the east and 3100 South on the north. The southern boundary is 4100 South west of Redwood Road and 4700 South east of about 1500 West.
Ask the three candidates seeking the District 52 seat what the most pressing issue facing the state is, and they will give three different answers.
For Democratic incumbent Daniel H. Tuttle, 44, it's education for Utah's children and employment to keep them in the state. For American Party candidate Lorin M. Twede, 37, it is cutting big government and social "gimme" programs. For Republican Larry W. Richards, 33, it's inefficiency in government.
These candidates' solutions are spelled out in different ways.
Tuttle, who has spent six years in the House, wants to provide one-time money to reduce class sizes. He also suggests funding the social services account.
Twede wants to immediately cut all but life-sustaining social service programs.
"Government is not a `sugar daddy.' It is not proper for government to plunder the people with taxes and redistribute it to others," said Twede, a US WEST Communications employee.
Richards wants to make government more efficient by converting prisons into major manufacturing sites. State welfare and medical programs can be run more efficiently.
All three differ on their abortion views.
"What is on the books now is what we should maintain," Tuttle said.
Twede wants to restrict all abortions except where pregnancy endangers the the life of the mother; Richards favors choice for a woman during the first trimester of pregnancy.
When it comes to removing the sales tax on food, Tuttle says that's up to the voters and refused to take a stand. Twede favors removing food tax, and Richards opposes it.
If the food tax is cut and the state budget left with a shortfall, Tuttle says he would take aim at what he says is over $400 million in tax exemptions. Twede said the cut would fit into his plans to trim government.
Richards wants to reform existing programs. "It will just take some time. Taxation has been depended upon too heavily as a primary revenue source," Richards said.
Twede says streamlining government is a way to avoid possible shortfalls in local governments, the Utah Transit Authority and Utah Winter Olympic funding caused by cuts from a food-sales-tax removal.
"Local government could operate with much less hired help and non-essential niceties. Salaries of local politicians should be reduced," said Twede, who wouldn't mind a cut for the Olympics, which he opposes.
Tuttle believes such local government shortfalls could be dealt with through "appropriations in the budget."
Richards would use the same formula to solve the state's shortfall as local government shortfalls - reform existing programs.
District 52 comprises Magna and a corner of West Valley City - generally west of 6400 West and north of 4100 South.
Both candidates want the sales tax on food removed.
Democratic incumbent Brent Goodfellow, 3620 S. 6000 West, calls food tax regressive and said it should be phased out according to a plan that would replace the lost revenue.
Part of that plan, Goodfellow said, would be readjusting income-tax rates so they become more progressive - increases according to income growth.
A 50-year-old educator seeking his fourth term in the House, Goodfellow said educating Utah's large population of children is state government's biggest problem. But he isn't optimistic about a possible multimillion-dollar surplus in fiscal 1989-90 going toward education.
"I think there's some problems that we have such as the lawsuit that AMAX won, and therefore we're going to have to look at property tax in terms of making some adjustments there," he said.
Libertarian challenger E.J. Bauman, 6157 Patti Drive, said any surplus should be returned to the people, who will in turn decide how it should be spent. "Everyone, churches, service groups etc. should be encouraged to get involved more and help thy neighbor," he said.
That type of supportive involvement, Bauman said, would help ease any revenue shortfall state and local governments might experience if voters decide to remove the sales tax on food.
Rather than create a financial burden, Bauman said, removing the food tax would mean more jobs and tax revenue for the state. "We will spend the tax savings on all kinds of things that will increase employment, sales, income taxes and promote economic growth."
A 40-year-old manager at Distribution Service Inc., Bauman said the biggest problem facing state government is people relying on the state to take care of their problems and not taking responsibility for themselves.
Both candidates favor legal abortions in the case of incest, rape or safety of the mother.
But they differ on a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. Goodfellow would ratify such an amendment, while Bauman said such laws do more harm against the principles the flag stands for.
District 53 includes most of West Valley City north of 3500 South and east of 6400 West, plus most of Salt Lake City west of Redwood Road. The district also includes a section of West Valley City from 5200 West to 6400 West between 3500 South and 4100 South.