PROVO — Retired Brigham Young University professor and administrator Don Jarvis announced his candidacy for Utah's Legislature.

Jarvis, who seeks to represent House District 63 in east Provo, announced his candidacy during a press conference at Wasatch Elementary School on Monday afternoon.

More than 50 friends and supporters showed up to wish Jarvis well as he seeks a seat currently occupied by GOP Rep. Steven Clark, R-Provo, who has served in the Legislature for the past eight years.

Jarvis, a socially conservative Democrat, hopes to start a trend similar to what his cousin Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts — by working to promote a two-party choice.

"Anytime one party has a stranglehold on state politics, it's a recipe for disaster," Jarvis said. "That's what they had in Massachusetts before Mitt, and that's what we have in Utah now. We need to get back to the healthy checks and balances that two viable political parties provide."

As a retired educator Jarvis, who still does consulting for Utah Valley State College, stressed the importance of education in a state with a pioneer legacy.

"Our spending per $1,000 of personal income for public education has fallen to 36th in the nation," he said. "We rank a shameful 45th in the nation in beginning teacher salaries. However, we rank highest in the nation in one category: average number of students per teacher."

If elected, Jarvis vowed to make his first matters of business increasing teacher salaries and increasing funding to the future Utah Valley University.

Others speaking in support of Jarvis were activist Carol Lambert, former Wasatch Elementary principal Kathryn Spencer, and environmental advocate George Handley.

"(Jarvis) really cares about our community," Spencer said. "I respect him, but most of all I trust him."