Is 13 the lucky number for Davis County Democrats this fall?
They hope so and are pinning that hope on the strong prospects of a well-known former mayor and postmaster.No Democrat has been able to come close to winning one of the eight Davis County seats (Districts 13-20) in the Utah House of Representatives in recent years.
Howard Stoddard of West Point is hoping to unseat incumbent Nora B. Stephens of Sunset in House District 13.
At last spring's Davis County Democratic nominating convention, County Chairman Larry Barusch characterized Stoddard as the party's best hope for a seat in the House, and that hasn't changed.
"He has an excellent shot," Barusch said. "He was the beloved mayor of West Point."
Stoddard, 72, said he's walking the streets, knocking on doors and working hard at winning the seat.
"It's looking more interesting all the time," he said.
Stephens, 66, who is seeking her fourth term, said she's expecting a hard challenge from Stoddard.
"I expect he'll give me a tough race," she said.
District 13 includes Sunset, West Point, Syracuse, Clinton, the Davis County portion of Hooper and also west Layton.
Don't expect any finger-pointing or dirty politics in this race. Both candidates expect to run a well-mannered, professional campaign. They were raised in West Point and have known each other all their lives.
"I get along well with her," Stoddard said.
He said he's running because he feels he has the qualifications to make a difference in office.
"I'm a people person. I've been service-oriented all my life in the post office, military and civic organizations. I just feel I've got the qualifications for it."
Barusch said he helped recruit Stoddard for the campaign and characterizes him as an energetic guy who finds out the people's needs before making decisions.
Stephens, a retired teacher and business owner, said she's running again because her experience can benefit her district.
"I feel like I've learned the process real well," she said.
Barusch said he believes Stephens hasn't represented the interests of the cities in her district well at all. "She has a particular set of issues she's interested in," he said.
Stoddard said he's also heard that about Stephens from some voters and said he believes the Davis County School District has not been satisfied with her.
"If voters feel there's a need for change, I'll fit that," he said.
Stephens says the Democrats do not have grounds for such claims.
"They're attacking me on one of my strongest points," she said. She said she's met with her cities on a regular basis.
While she admits she has excelled in legislation for human services - adoption and foster care in particular - her residents always come first.
"I think I've been very responsive to the needs of the people."
She plans a basic campaign with an accent on contacting the newest move-ins to her district.
"I've kept my promises," she said, explaining she has the respect of her colleagues and believes that they, too, believe she represents the people as much or more than any state legislator.
Stoddard said he has no particular platform except that he's a good listener and will represent the people.