Two of the five state Senate disticts up for election this year in Salt Lake County's southern and western suburbs are districts that have swung between Republicans and Democrats the past few decades.
Sen. Paul Fordham, D-Taylorsville, faces Republican Joseph Stumph in a district that Fordham won from Republican Verl Asay four years ago. Asay served eight years in the Senate. Before that, Democrats held the seat.Sen. Bill Barton, R-West Valley City, won his seat 12 years ago, in an area where few Republicans had won. Barton this year faces Millie Peterson, director of admissions at the University of Utah's School of Medicine.
One of the five races has no incumbent. Delpha Baird defeated Sen. Lorin N. Pace in the Republican primary in September and now faces Democrat John Dwan.
Sales tax on food and an amendment prohibiting flag burning are issues where candidates vying for Senate District 4 differ.
Republican incumbent Richard B. Tempest opposes removing the sales tax on food and says voters agree with him and will vote down the initiative on Nov. 6.
But if they don't, then basic services will suffer from lack of funding, and lawmakers would have to look at cutting programs and levying other taxes, Tempest said.
As for local governments, Tempest said, dealing with the shortfall is their problem and not the state's.
Democratic challenger Scott Howell agrees, saying that if the funds aren't there "that's reality, and certain folks will just have to bite the bullet."
Howell favors removing the food tax and also supports his party's plan of a food-tax credit for the poor. But he fears Tempest's approach of cutting needed social service programs to solve an inevitable shortfall if the food-tax initiative passes.
Howell said the shortfall can be offset by restructuring the state's current income tax system.
If the state experiences a surplus for fiscal 1989-90, Howell said it should be spent on education. Tempest also would have a surplus go toward education. But he added that social services are in most need of funding, particularly mental-health programs, help for the homeless and vocational training.
At the same time, Tempest said the biggest problem facing the state is the increasing number of people dependent upon state services. "The solution to the problem is not to raise taxes or increase the size of government. The solution is to teach people to be more self-reliant so that we can trim back government bureaucracy," he said.
A general contractor and co-owner of The Tempest Co., Tempest, 54, lives at 2392 Cottonwood Lane. He supports legal abortion in the case of rape, incest or if the mother's life is threatened. He would also ratify a constitutional amendment banning flag burning.
A 37-year-old marketing manager for IBM, Howell, 9711 S. 3725 East, said he doesn't believe in desecrating the flag but an amendment outlawing such actions is not necessary.
According to Howell, the biggest problem facing state government is quality of education, which affects the state's ability to attract and retain new business.
District 4 includes all of Murray north of 5900 South; all of Murray west of 700 West; the Cottonwood High School area; the Holladay-Cottonwood area bounded by 7000 South on the south, and Big Cottonwood Creek and Casto Lane on the north; the area east of Wasatch Boulevard between Heughs Canyon and Bells Canyon; Little Cottonwood Canyon; and Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Residents of Senate District 9 - the Holladay area - will get a new senator this year, either Democrat John Dwan or Republican Delpha Baird. Incumbent Republican Lorin Pace was defeated by Baird in the primary.
Dwan, 53, head of community relations for the U.'s Health Sciences Center, supports the removal of sales tax from food. So does Baird, a 59-year-old housewife who has been active in community affairs for years.
Removing the tax "is the right and principled thing to do," Dwan said. "I'm sorry so many Utahns say we cannot afford to do what is right. Of course, the revenues must be replaced. But first we look to natural revenue growth, then revamping the entire tax structure placing more responsibility on the wealthy. Finally, we look to luxury and service taxes."
Baird believes surpluses can take care of most of the lost food-tax revenue. "I favor phasing the removal in over several years." Other taxes don't have to be raised, she said.
Assuming the food-tax-initiative fails, the $150 million anticipated state surplus should go for increased teacher pay in higher and public education, hiring more teachers and paying for supplies, Dwan said. Baird thinks the extra money should toward developing and drawing high-technology businesses to the state and to pay for state buildings, so we don't have to borrow.
Dwan says state abortion law should remain as is. "Outlawing abortion will not stop abortions any more than prohibition stopped liquor consumption or laws against drugs have stopped drug abuse. Particularly in Utah, we should be very careful about attempting to legislate morality or infringing on other's rights."
Baird said most women make their choice before they get pregnant. She says abortions should be allowed only to save the mother's life or in cases of rape or incest.
Dwan says the major problem facing state government is how programs are funded and prioritized. His priorities are: education, economic development, human services, health care and the environment. "The entire tax system should be changed, made fair and progressive, not favoring business and the rich."
Baird said the major problem in the state is citizens' expectation that government should provide more and more services. "I think we need to stop doing this. When we think we need a new program, we need to get rid of several old programs to pay for it. We should reduce government in favor of governing ourselves."
District 9 comprises a Holladay-Millcreek area bounded by 3900 South on the north, Wasatch Boulevard on the east, and Casto Lane and Big Cottonwood Creek on the south. It also includes the South Salt Lake-Granite Park-north Murray area bounded by Highland Drive on the east, Big Cottonwood Creek and Gordon Lane on the south, State Street on the west, and Mill Creek and 2700 South on the north.
The differences are few between the Republican incumbent and Democratic challenger.
Senate President Arnold Christensen, R-Sandy, is running for a fourth term against Democrat Dale W. Mitchell and Libertarian Hugh Butler.
Butler didn't respond to a Deseret News questionnaire sent to all candidates.
But according to responses sent in by Christensen and Mitchell, they both oppose an initiative to remove the sales tax on food, support current abortion laws and would ratify a constitutional amendment banning flag burning.
They both even listed the same hobbies: hunting and fishing.
Differences, though slight, do exist.
Christensen, 54, 891 E. 8600 South, said no sufficient revenues exist to offset the shortfall created by removing the food tax.
Mitchell, 61, 943 Serpentine Way, agrees. But he said he would support the initiative if the sales tax were slowly removed, giving lawmakers time to adjust taxes to make up the shortfall.
Mitchell said he would also use the anticipated state budget surplus to soften the impact of eliminating the sales tax on food. The surplus also should go toward education and economic development.
A retired school teacher and former two-term legislator, Mitchell said reforming Utah's education system and economic growth are the major problems facing state government. Large classroom size and low teacher salaries must be solved to improve the quality of education in Utah, he said.
Christensen, an electrician by profession and Senate president since 1985, also lists education as a major challenge facing the state. But he ranks taxes as Utah's No. 1 problem. To solve the state's tax problem, Christensen said lawmakers should provide adequate funding to those areas that are "really demonstrated needs."
District 10 includes most of Sandy between 7800 South and Dry Creek.
Democratic Sen. Paul Fordham this year faces his first re-election to his Taylorsville and West Valley City district, opposed by conservative Republican Joseph Stumph.
Stumph, 56, made a name for himself in the state Republican convention, where he lead the unsuccessful effort to align the state GOP with the food-tax-removal initiative.
Fordham, 73, opposes removing the sales tax from food, setting up a clear choice for voters in this district.
"The food tax should be removed," says Stumph. "It will send a message to lawmakers to stop raising taxes and stop spending huge tax surpluses."
Fordham says state and local governments couldn't afford the revenue loses and vital programs, especially education, would suffer. No way, counters Stumph. He says the state has seen $150 million surpluses the past two years and governments can afford the lost revenue, estimated at $90 million for the state, $23 million for all cities and counties combined.
Fordham says that if the removal passes, other taxes may have to be increased and current exemptions on the sales tax be eliminated. He'd like to see state social service programs increased with the surplus funds if the tax removal fails.
If there's any surplus left over after paying for the food-tax removal, Stumph says, it should go to removing the "temporary" sales-tax increase imposed during the flooding of the early 1980s.
Fordham says he'd support tougher abortion laws that allow exceptions if the mother's or fetus' life is endangered, and in cases of rape or incest. Stumph says there should only be one exception, life of the mother.
Stumph says he's leaning against supporting a constitutional amendment to stop flag burning. "On reflection, it appears flag burners, though disgusting and repulsive to most Americans, are one of the irritants we must tolerate as a free republic. Other rights could be jeopardized (by such an amendment)." Fordham said he supports such a constitutional amendment.
Fordham says the greatest problems facing state government are dealing with congested, overcrowded highways and health-care costs of Utah citizens.
Stumph says the greatest problem in state government is legislators themselves, who vote for which ever side applies the greatest pressure. "They vote the way the lobbyists wish, not for the people. I'd limit maximum length of terms to eight years at the state level, 12 at the federal." If a politician got more than 75 percent vote of the people, he could stay in office longer, Stumph said.
Fordham is retired. He served on the Utah State Tax Commission and as director as professional licensing for the state. Stumph has worked 22 years at Kennecott and has a side business in investments.
District 11 is bounded generally by 4100 South on the north, the Jordan River on the east, 5400 South on the south and approximately 4200 West on the west. Between 4100 South and 4700 South, the district extends west to 5600 West. Between 2200 West and 3200 West, District 11 extends as far north as 3800 South.
Republican Sen. Bill Barton faces Democrat Millie Peterson in his West Valley City district. Barton, 57, is a longtime conservative senator.
Both Barton and Peterson oppose removing the sales tax from food, but for different reasons. Barton says such a removal would only lead to increases in other taxes, and he's not convinced that the sales tax should be the first tax cut.
Peterson, 46, opposes the removal "under protest," saying she fears that the lost revenue would not be made up by other tax adjustments. "It is an unfair tax," and should be removed, she said.
To make up for lost food-tax revenue, Peterson would end all current sales-tax exemptions within certain time frames, look at tying the food tax to income levels and consider a luxury tax on non-essential goods.
Barton would deal with the revenue shortfall by phasing in the food-tax removal.
If the food-tax removal fails, the state will have about $150 million in surplus to deal with. Barton says it should go to tax reductions. Peterson says it should be used "to bring our schools up to standard, fund essential books and supplies, lower class size and increase teacher salaries." Also, state employees' wages should be increased to meet those in the private sector, she said.
Barton said he opposes abortions except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Peterson said abortions should be legal for the "health, safety and well-being of the mother."
The major problem in state government is the growth and continuing burden of government on the taxpayer, Barton said.
Peterson said the major problem is the lack of long-term planning. "We always seem to be putting out fires instead of preventing them," she said.
Peterson is the director of admissions at the U.'s Medical School. Barton is the owner of a building supply store and restaurant.
District 12 is bounded generally by 2100 South, the Jordan River, 4100 South and 7200 West. The district includes a section of Magna between 3500 South and 4100 South west to 8000 West.
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