Voters sometimes complain that races for the Utah House or Senate lack sparks, that the candidates are too wishy-washy on the issues, too alike.
Taylorsville area voters won't find that problem in their Senate race this year - Democratic incumbent Paul Fordham and Republican challenger Joe Stumph are very different.District 11 was the seat for years of Verl Asay, an ultra-conservative Republican known for his anti-pornography stands and right-wing politics. It took Fordham, a soft-spoken man who rarely speaks on the floor of the Senate, two tries to unseat Asay in a district that contains some fairly Democratic strongholds. But Fordham finally beat Asay in 1986.
Now Stumph, a longtime Kennecott employee, wants to sit in Asay's Senate seat and espouse some of the same conservative ideals.
Fordham isn't known as a liberal Democrat. Just the opposite, he often votes with the majority Republicans and it is a standing joke among GOP leaders that Fordham should switch parties, offers he refuses with a smile.
Stumph first made waves in the Republican hierarchy when earlier this year he encouraged state GOP delegates to go against the wishes of GOP Gov. Norm Bangerter and endorse removing the sales tax from food. Stumph lead the convention fight, but lost the delegate vote. The GOP officially stayed neutral on the initiative issue, as Bangerter desired.
Here a few of Stumph's stands on issues - stands Fordham doesn't share:
-Stumph believes teachers should be well-paid. But Stumph is opposed to Utah Education Association tactics "of threatening strikes and walkouts." Stumph wants a voucher system - $1,500 a year - whereby parents could use the voucher to pay for private education if they so wish. Such competition will help all students, he believes. (Fordham agrees teachers should be paid more, he's against a voucher system.)
-The only possible exemption for abortion is when the life of the mother is endangered, Stumph says. "Rape or incest is no excuse for abortion," although government and society should help the mother-to-be during such a difficult time. (Fordham wants abortions restricted except where the life of the mother or fetus is threatened, or in cases of rape or incest.)
-Stumph strongly supports capital punishment, saying there should be a limit of three years on appeals. "I suggest the death penalty is also appropriate for rape and child sexual abuse, but if this seems too harsh to the majority (of legislators), should we not have (these criminals) medically fixed (neutered) so they become incapable of again committing such barbarism against women and children?" (Fordham thinks capital punishment costs too much, he favors life without parole. He opposes neutering sex offenders.)
-The Utah Legislature should officially encourage every head of household to maintain at least one firearm in the home and know how to use it for self-protection. (Fordham opposes such an official suggestion.)
-"We need to study the possibility of establishing penal colonies on remote islands of the sea," Stumph says. Each island would house a certain class of criminals - one for murderers, one for rapists, one for white collar criminals and so on. "Furnish them with tools and housing, but then leave them alone to survive or perish as they wish," he says. If the system works, Utah could contract with other states and put their criminals on Utah's islands. (Fordham opposes such colonies.)
-"We should at least seriously discuss the legalization of drugs," Stumph believes. Prohibition of alcohol never worked and there are "serious doubts the war on drugs can ever succeed." "I'm not an accommodation-ist, but people should have a right to make of their lives a living hell if they so choose, if they do it without hurting others." (Fordham strongly opposes legalization of drugs.)
-The Constitution provides for human liberty, not economic security. Accordingly, government welfare should be minimized, private charities and churches strengthened to help the poor and needy. (Fordham supports current welfare programs.)
-Utahns want a clean environment, but mineral and energy development must proceed without harassment from radical environmentalists, he says. "Multiple use of our forest land is possible with some good judgment and common sense. What good is wilderness if only wildlife and a few backpackers can enjoy it?" (Fordham wants only limited wilderness designation.)
-Stumph opposes affirmative action in hiring minorities. "Slavery was wrong and wicked, but it does not justify favoritism for minorities today. Affirmative action is wrong. It is unfair. It causes great injustice to the minority who truly is competent." (Fordham supports affirmative action.)