Richard Snelgrove made it official Wednesday: the Republican wants Rep. Wayne Owens' job in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In a speech prepared for a noon delivery in downtown Salt Lake City, heart of the 2nd Congressional District, Snelgrove took the same pledge that every Republican, and most of the Democratic, candidates have sworn to: "I will not increase your taxes period!"Salt Lake County has serious problems that call for a Salt Lake congressman, Snelgrove said. "We don't need a congressman who flies all over the world and presents bills that have nothing to do with the Salt Lake Valley, our jobs, our children or our futures."
Snelgrove was Salt Lake County GOP chairman before resigning earlier this year to challenge Owens, a first-term Democrat who also served a term in the 1970s. This is Snelgrove's first run at elective office. But he said his youth and relative inexperience don't concern him.
"When Wayne ran for Congress the first time in 1972 he was about my age, 33. He hadn't served in office before, and he defeated an incumbent. I plan on doing the same thing this year," Snelgrove told the Deseret News.
Snelgrove told those gathered in Exchange Place to hear his an
nouncement: "We need a Salt Lake congressman. I say again, a Salt Lake congressman! I was born, raised and educated in Salt Lake. My business is in Salt Lake. I have brought jobs to Salt Lake and created new ones."
Owens was born and raised in Panguitch. He has introduced legislation and taken stands on issues that don't directly affect Salt Lake County, including re-introducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Snelgrove is a manager in his family's business, Snelgrove Ice Cream Co.
"Politicians want to talk about all kinds of issues and I'll talk to those but the real issue that confronts us is jobs, jobs and more jobs," Snelgrove said.
"We need more opportunity to compete, not retreat. Our future and our children's future depends on it."
Snelgrove said that for the first time in the state's history, more people are leaving Utah than are coming in, and the reason they're leaving is to find jobs. "The opportunities for our people aren't here." As a congressman in the 2nd District, Snelgrove said, he'd be a Washington, D.C., ambassador to coordinate job growth in the Salt Lake Valley.
"We've seen taxes raised to the point that it discourages economic growth and investment," he said. Greater taxes are the worst thing that could happen now, he said.
Holding up a mannikin with its face painted different colors, Snel-grove said Owens is two-faced. One face is "the nice guy Wayne" that voters see in Salt Lake. The other is the Washington, D.C., Owens. "The Washington Wayne doesn't vote like the Salt Lake Wayne talks. He tells Utah one thing and votes another."