PROVO Brigham Young University's Ned C. Hill, dean of the Marriott School of Management, won't say whether he is voting for his wife, Claralyn M. Hill.
The Provo attorney announced her candidacy Tuesday as the eighth Democrat in Utah County running for the Legislature.
Ned Hill's silence is because BYU has a policy requiring its president, vice presidents and deans remain politically neutral.
Ned Hill attended his wife's press conference but remained in the background and didn't address the group of about 75 people gathered in a conference room at the Provo City Library at Academy Square.
He said he even met with BYU legal counsel prior to his wife announcing her candidacy to ensure he was abiding by the school's policy.
Summarized, BYU's political neutrality policy states:
"The essential functions of the university require strict institutional neutrality, integrity, and independence regarding partisan political activities, particularly because perceived partisanship is often interpreted as endorsement by the university's affiliated sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
One reason for the policy is to preserve the university's tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code, according to the policy.
In July, Ned Hill will finish his 10 years as dean and will simply be on the faculty. At that time he plans help with his wife's campaign, unless he is told otherwise by BYU officials, he said.
"But right now I have to be politically neutral," Ned Hill said.
Claralyn M. Hill, 59, is vying for House District 62. Currently Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, who was appointed to replace Jeff Alexander, is filling the seat.
Herrod said, in an interview with the Deseret Morning News Tuesday afternoon, he welcomes the challenge.
"I believe in an exchange of ideas differing viewpoints and different ideas," he said.
Herrod, 42, is a self-employed real estate developer and loan officer. He also teaches international business as an adjunct at Utah Valley State College in Orem.
During her speech, Hill said her district deserves "to have the best representation that reflects the intelligence and goodness of the people here."
Hill said she is asking for her district's vote because she is more qualified and knowledgeable than the incumbent.
"I am more in touch with my community than the incumbent. I am more free of vested interest and closer to your values than the incumbent. I am less partisan and more moderate than the incumbent," she said.
"I promise you that if you elect me I will work hard and be effective," Hill said. "And I will do the job with the integrity and excellence in which I have done everything else in my life."
Several people spoke Tuesday, endorsing Hill during her announcement, including her former law professor and a former classmate from BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Friends and neighbors also vocalized their support for Hill at Tuesday's event.
"I think she would bring honesty and clarity to the Legislature," said Wayne Johnson, 51, of Provo.
Robin Tuck, 63, of Provo, said he sees a need for a variety of opinions in politics. "We can't just all be Republicans," he said.
Nola deJong Sullivan, 83, of Provo, said she has known Hill for 25 years and sees her as brilliant and honest. "We're tired of Utah having only one party," she said. "Otherwise, it's just like a dictatorship."Hill and her husband have five children.
E-mail: [email protected]