Republicans hold five of the six state House of Representatives seats in the Sandy-Cottonwood Heights areas, and they have their sights set on the sixth district, where former legislator Clark Reber opposes Rep. Kurt Oscarson. Oscarson took the seat away from Reber in 1986.
Democrats hope to pick up a few seats, including District 40, where Darrell Jorgensen challenges Rep. Jed Wasden, R-Midvale.Only one race does not involve an incumbent, because Republican Irby Arrington defeated Rep. Conrad Maxfield in the Republican primary Sept. 11.
One candidate opposes the removal of sales tax on food. The other favors it.
Incumbent Melvin R. Brown, a Republican, is concerned that if the tax is removed, "how would the delivery of services be affected by the revenue loss, and how would a possible tax shift impact state residents?"
Brown thinks a "phase-in tax removal makes good sense. This would allow the Legislature the time to deal with economic changes."
Democratic candidate Sam Moore disagrees.
He favors removing the food tax and says, "The shortfall would have to be made up with more-equitable taxes."
Moore, 51, a high school counselor, and Brown, 52, a rancher-businessman, disagree on other issues, such as abortion.
Brown said he would favor allowing legal abortions in circumstances of rape, incest or to save the life of a mother.
Moore says, "I do not consider abortion a viable form of birth control. The decision for abortion is a very personal decision and perhaps the decision belongs to women and not men."
Moore says he hasn't decided if he would vote to ratify a constitutional amendment banning desecration or burning of the American flag, should such an amendment pass Congress. He wants to read the amendment before making a decision.
"Without question," Brown said when asked if he would vote to ratify such an amendment.
What are the major problems facing the state?
"Balancing taxes, economic development, healthy business climate so as to meet the needs of education, human services and infrastructure," Brown said.
"Development of the state - business, recreation, education, roads, garbage, air quality," Moore said.
On one issue the candidates share a similar view. When asked what would be the best use of the state's multimillion-dollar surplus in fiscal 1989-90, they responded as follows:
Brown: "There are always plenty of uses for surplus funds. Education deserves its share of any surplus."
Moore: "Try and solve some problems in education." One problem worth addressing is crowded classrooms, he said.
District 38 is an irregularly shaped area generally stretching from the Jordan River to 2000 East between 7000 South and 7800 South, but going as far south as 9000 South between I-15 and the Jordan River. The district includes much of Midvale, Union south of 7200 South and Cottonwood Heights west of 2000 East.
The three candidates, who include a former legislator who defeated the incumbent in the GOP primary election, have differing viewpoints on whether the sales tax should be removed from food.
Irby Arrington, who served three terms in the Legislature before being defeated by Rep. Conrad Maxfield two years ago, was selected by voters again this year as the district's Republican nominee.
In the general election, Arrington faces business representative Kay M. Leishman, a Democrat who is active in party politics, and bus boy and student Douglas Devon Nish, the American Party candidate.
Arrington said he opposes the initiative that would remove sales tax from food "because of the cuts that will be necessary." He said "all programs would have to take their share of cuts."
Leishman also opposes the initiative "if new taxes would be required to make up for lost revenue." He said that if voters do approve taking the sales tax off food, he would favor "restructuring the tax system (and) finding new revenue through new business and industry."
Nish, however, said he favors the initiative. "I welcome removal of any tax, but not to have another tax increased, or a new tax added in its place." To make up for the revenue that would be lost if sales tax isn't charged on food he "would gradually begin cutting welfare and social programs."
All three candidates favor restricting legal abortions, with Arrington saying he would allow no abortions. Leishman said he would permit abortions "only in life-threatening circumstances, incest and rape," while Nish said only "in cases of rape or incest."
Arrington said the major problem facing state government is the need for class-size reduction. He said he would solve it by providing "more local options in funding" for schools.
Leishman listed the overall economy as the state's most pressing concern, saying he would "provide incentives to attract new, productive businesses which will offer Utahns competitive wages" as well as "cut waste, revamp the tax structure and make it attractive for college graduates to stay in Utah."
Nish said the biggest problem facing state government is "taxes and waste in government. I would solve it by cutting programs out."
Arrington said the state's surplus from the last budget year, estimated at about $50 million, should be used for capital improvements so the state can avoid borrowing.
Leishman would use the money for "education, social programs, wages for sate employees (and) invest it into things which would create new revenue for the state, i.e. tourism, Olympics, etc."
Nish would "leave it there until there is a shortfall or a need for it."
Both Arrington and Leishman said they would vote to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning desecration or burning of the American flag.
Nish, however, said he would not support such an amendment if it came before the Utah Legislature for ratification. "Patriotism and love of country and love of the flag cannot be force upon individuals," he said.
District 39 includes most of the Cottonwood Heights area, plus Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. It generally is bounded on the west by 2000 East, on the north by 7000 South and on the south by Little Cottonwood Creek.
Incumbent Jed W. Wasden opposes the removal of the sales tax on food. "Sales tax is the only tax some people pay. I believe everyone should make some contribution toward the government so they have a vested interest," he said. Wasden does not believe the sales tax is unfair to the poor. "Those who qualify for food stamps pay no food sales tax now."
If voters pass the initiative eliminating the tax on food, Wasden supports a gradual reduction of the tax "so the economy and the governmental units could gradually adjust to the process."
Wasden believes local government, the Utah Transit Authority and Utah's 1998 Olympics fund must lose the money they got from sales tax "unless they could prove critical needs. If they proved a critical need existed then I would favor shifting money in the general budget to cover the need. I do not support increasing taxes without an approval vote of the people."
When it comes to spending the 1989-90 projected revenue surplus, Wasden said, "We must meet the needs of our total education system. We must also meet the critical needs of our human transit system. Some social service areas must also be considered. With the opening of the Gunnison prison, we must meet the added cost."
If the U.S. Supreme Court allows states more leeway in controlling abortion, Wasden would only support abortion in the case of "proven rape or incest," he said.
Asked if he would vote to ratify a constitutional amendment prohibiting desecration of the American flag, he replied, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Wasden, 70, is a retired teacher. He favors a reduction in property taxes and increased support for senior citizens.
Democratic candidate Darrell Jorgensen opposes the sales-tax initiative because removing the tax all at once would leave governments and agencies depending on the tax in a bind.
Instead, Jorgensen would favor "a gradual repeal of the sales tax over time, with replacement funding going to the cities." He would have preferred a one-cent reduction per year, he said. "I think we can take care of both the cities and the poor of we do that," he said.
If the initiative passes, Jorgensen believes the Legislature will have to make up the lost revenue "through things like sin taxes and increased taxation of the higher incomes," he said.
Such taxes also should be appropriated to the Utah Transit Authority, Utah cities and the Winter Olympics effort to make up for lost sales-tax money, he said.
Utah tax surpluses should be spent to improve education and help the poor, he said.
Jorgensen refused to say under what circumstances he would support legal abortion.
"To me, that's not an issue. The issue for me is that we need to address the issues of families. We need to address the various perspectives on the issue of abortion and come to a meaningful, constructive solution after working with all parties. By doing that, we can eliminate the polarization and destruction that the extreme groups on both ends of this issue have tried to incite."
Jorgensen, 36, is a master electrician, consultant for the Utah State Board of Education and instructor at the Salt Lake Community College.
He has volunteered on various campaigns since 1976 and has written legislation for Utah, Tennessee, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire in his field.
Libertarian Doug Jones favors the removal of the sales tax on food as the first step in lowering taxes. Asked how the state should make up revenue lost by passage of the initiative, Jones referred to a draft state budget drawn up by Libertarian state Senate candidate Bob Waldrop that Jones said would cut state spending by $70 million and raise $10 million in user fees.
Asked about the shortfalls to local governments, UTA and the Winter Olympics endeavor, Jones said: "Local governments have already raised the rates of property tax. UTA wastes way too much on empty buses and advertising. Taxpayers should not fund the Olympics."
If Utah has a revenue surplus this year, Jones believes it should be spent on income-tax reductions for the middle class.
Asked about abortion, Jones said: "The state should not decide issues of women's choice. Period. But it should not fund those choices either. I oppose abortion funding by the state."
Jones would not vote to ratify a constitutional amendment prohibiting the desecration of the flag, saying, "The freedom that a flag represents is much more important than the flag itself."
The biggest challenge facing Utah is "special-interest money grubbing," Jones said. The solution is "reduce taxation and spending" he said.
Jones, 35, is a technical writer at Novell Inc. He is the Utah chairman of the Libertarian Party.
District 40 covers southeast Midvale and northwest Sandy, including Old Sandy. The district generally is bounded by I-15 on the west, 9400 South on the south, 1300 East on the east, and 7800 South and Midvale Center Street on the north.
Republican incumbent Richard Bradford seeks his third term in the House of Representatives from District 41 and is unopposed. He did not respond to the questionnaire sent him by the Deseret News.
Bradford has served as vice chairman of the House Public Education Committee and as a member of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
District 41 includes the northeast quarter of Sandy, bounded by Little Cottonwood Creek on the north and east, 9400 South on the south and 1300 East on the west.
Democratic incumbent Kurt Oscarson, 42, opposes Republican Clark Reber, a legislative veteran who lost his seat to Oscarson in 1986.
Both men oppose removing the sales tax from food. Oscarson believes the loss of the tax money would place too much of a burden on cities and counties that don't have enough revenue for basic services as it is.
Reber opposes the removal of the food tax if it means that local governments would increase property taxes. "I would like to see the tax on food removed, but I do not want to see an increase in property tax."
If the tax were removed, Reber favors setting priorities for existing state government programs and "reducing or eliminating those that are not important" in an effort to make up for lost state revenue.
Oscarson proposes using the state's "rainy day" fund to ease the problem.
"Raising taxes to replace the loss is not the answer on a state level," he said. He also called for a gradual phasing out of the sales tax on food. However, the initiative, if approved by voters, would require the complete removal of sales tax on food July 1.
Oscarson would handle the shortfall to local governments by allowing them to raise their property-tax levies. He would authorize the Utah Transit Authority to increase its fares.
Reber, on the other hand, believes it is too early to make a decision on shortfalls to local government and UTA.
Oscarson favors spending the expected multimillion-dollar surplus in fiscal 1989-90 on education, social services and roads.
Oscarson, a schoolteacher for 18 years, believes education, social services and transportation problems are the largest problems facing Utah.
Reber, a business owner, believes the biggest challenge facing Utah is "how to raise sufficient revenue to deal with future problems without overtaxing our citizenry," he said. He favors using the 1989-90 surplus to compensate for revenue lost by the removal of the food tax and to increase funding for education.
If the U.S. Supreme Court gave states more control over abortion, Oscarson would support abortion only in the cases of incest, rape and as a lifesaving measure for the mother.
Reber would only favor abortion when the life of the mother is threatened. "Fortunately, mothers have been wiling to take that risk for thousands of years," he said.
Oscarson would not vote to ratify a constitutional amendment banning the burning of the American flag. But Reber would.
Oscarson volunteered for Sandy Pride in 1985 and the March of Dimes Walk-a-thon in 1990. He served as president of the Jordan Education Association in 1979. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1986.
Reber served two terms in the House and was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and Germany.
District 42 includes much of southwest Sandy: from 9000 South and 11400 South, between the Jordan River and generally 700 East; and the White City area.
Incumbent Republican Craig Moody opposes the removal of the sales tax on food. But if the initiative passes, he believes all new revenue should be used to offset the loss of the sales-tax revenues. "The Legislature would try to minimize the loss of revenue as much as possible," he said.
Asked how he would deal with shortfalls to local governments, the Utah Transit Authority and the Winter Olympics effort, he said, "I would like to think that the state would be able to help these groups, but when push comes to shove, these entities will also bear the loss of revenues just like the state."
Utah's 1989-90 surplus should be spent on one-time needs, Moody said. "I would like to see the surplus used to build roads, water reserves and other infrastructure needs," he said.
Moody supports abortion only in the case of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
Utah's biggest challenge is the long-range needs of the state. "With potential military cuts the state needs to plan for the retrofit and changing economy. Education is always something we need to do more long-range planning on."
Moody, 38, is a real estate broker and owner of Moody and Associates.
He serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Utah and the Hawthorne University Foundation.
Democratic candidate Larry Williams favors removal of the sales tax on food "because it is a good beginning for a restructuring of the tax system within Utah."
Asked how he would compensate for the revenue lost, he said, "First of all, we would of course look for areas of waste. The second area would be to close the loopholes within the existing tax structure."
Asked for specific areas of waste, he said: "I don't believe there are any specific areas. I believe it would be a general tightening of the belt."
Williams believes property taxes may have to be raised to compensate local governments for the revenue lost if the sales-tax initiative passes.
"That's unfortunate, but I think that is an area that better reflects the ability to pay than food sales tax." Lost UTA funding could be made up from the state's general fund or special tax assessments in the areas that UTA serves, he said. "I think some policy changes and routing changes would increase ridership."
Utah's Olympic effort would have to be funded solely through private donations if the sales-tax-limitation initiative passed, he said.
"I do believe abortion is appropriate in the case of rape, incest and when the health of the mother has been threatened," he said. "I'm not sure how much further I would go with that. I do not believe it should be completely unregulated. I believe there should be regulation of when abortion takes place, but i'm not exactly sure where that line is."
The biggest challenge facing Utah is the environment, he said.
Williams, 31, is a real estate agent and has a law degree. He serves on the board of directors of the American Lung Association of Utah. He was chairman of the technology assessment work group for the Governor's Clean Air Commission.
Independent Party candidate Gary Arrowsmith favors the removal of sales tax from food, saying, "Gov. Bangerter recently spent $95,000 to remodel his office; hundreds of thousands of dollars for him and his travel to Europe and the Middle East with questionable results. Utah has spent $62 million to get the Olympics here, now with diminished chances. Now is the time for tax reduction, and the sales tax on food is the one that 76 percent of those polled two years ago favored reducing."
If the initiative passes, the Legislature should "divert revenues to counties severely affected. Special-interest sales-tax exemptions should be re-evaluated. Utah is currently overtaxing its citizens $112 million per year. Utah can afford this tax reduction."
Asked what should be done with a 1989-90 revenue surplus, he said: "The moral thing to do is to give it back to those who were overtaxed. That has the effect of revitalizing the economy. From this increased business activity, I find many vital services in need of increased budgets."
Arrowsmith favors abortion in situations of rape, incest, when the health of the mother is threatened and "where chances of emotional trauma has been determined to be high after the parents-to-be have received counseling."
Asked about the major problem facing Utah, Arrowsmith said, "Economic development to keep our youth employed at a livable wage to help offset Utah's enormous tax burden should be encouraged. Utah is known for its inhospitality to business."
Arrowsmith, 35, is a customer service engineer.
District 43 covers the southeast section of Sandy. It is bounded generally by 700 East on the west and 9400 South on the north - excluding the White City area.