The glut of international oil has spelled hard times in Duchesne County, where the economy is almost exclusively dependent upon the black gold.
In Wasatch County, the issue is not so much a faltering economy as it is rampant growth that has turned the scenic valley into an exclusive Wasatch Front bedroom community.So what do the two counties have in common? Not a whole lot beyond the fact that both are strongly Republican and both are included in the same House District 54 seat being contested in the Republican primary by United Airlines pilot Robert Wren and developer Gordon E. Snow.
And in many respects, the contest mirrors the changing demographics of the district. Traditionally, the power base in District 54 has been Roosevelt, the economic hub of the western Uinta Basin. The representative from that district has always come from the Uinta Basin.
But in recent years, a rapid influx of urban residents to Heber City and Midway is shifting the population balance to Wasatch County. The question is whether that growth will also result in a shift in political power.
The test of that shift comes June 23 when Wren, a soon-to-be-retired airline pilot living in Heber City, goes up against Snow, a homebuilder with traditional roots in the Uinta Basin.
The incumbent is Beverly Ann Evans, who has held the seat for 12 years but is running for an open state Senate post this year. She lives in Altamont, Duchesne County, and works in Roosevelt.
The Wren-Snow winner will oppose Democrat Cindy Barton-Coombs, Altamont, in November.
Robert Wren (R)
Address: 2785 E. 1200 South, Heber City
Occupation: United Airlines pilot
Experience: Ran unsuccessfully for Legislature six years ago.
Personal: 20-year resident of Wasatch County; married with five children.
Main campaign issues: Wren calls himself a student of government and of the Constitution. "I enjoy the principles of freedom, the things that made this country great. We have gone astray from the Founding Fathers."
Olympics: Wren says elected officials must ensure the games do not become a burden on taxpayers but rather an "economic blessing" to the area.
Ute sovereignty: "It is probably true they (Utes) have not been adequately represented, but it is also true they have not worked well enough with the established political system. We can work together to create prosperity."
Highway funding: Wren says too much of the highway funding is going to the Wasatch Front and not enough to rural areas.
Rural economic development: "We have ended up with too much control, too much government trying to decree what is done here. Basically, I am fighting for smaller government and lower taxes, and returning responsibility to individuals, not to the government."
Tidbit: Is a chemical engineer.
Gordon E. Snow (R)
Address: 688 W. Lagoon 51-1, Roosevelt
Personal: Married with four children
Experience: Member of the planning and zoning commission and a board member of regional higher education and health organizations.
Main issues: "The concerns are different. In Duchesne County, there is very little growth and concern about economic development. In Wasatch County, there is concern about too-rapid growth."
Olympics: "We must ensure the Olympics experience will benefit everyone even after it is over."
Ute sovereignty: Negotiations must focus on those things the two sides have in common, not upon their differences that have traditionally divided the community. "Basically, we have to keep talking and working together. I support everybody's sovereignty except when it interferes with their neighbors."
Highway funding: The highway expansion through Provo Canyon must be given priority.
Rural economic development: The issues in economically stagnant Duchesne County are different than in Wasatch County, which is struggling with rapid growth. But residents of both areas share a concern over higher education, health issues and growth planning.
Tidbit: Is an accountant by training.