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Equality Utah Announces Candidate Endorsements

On Aug. 20, local grass gay rights group Equality Utah’s board of directors announced their list of endorsed legislative, city council and gubernatorial candidates for this November’s election.

“We believe [our endorsed candidates] will prove to be fair-minded in their approach to policy-making once they are in office,” said Stephanie Pappas, the board’s chairperson. “We ask that you consider supporting these candidates by volunteering for their campaigns, requesting a lawn sign, or doing what you can to be a part of this important campaign season.  With these candidates in office, we move closer to our vision of a fair [and] just Utah.”

According to Ruth Hackford-Peer, Manager of Public Policy for Equality Utah, the group based their nominations on “candid” interviews with candidates that covered a number of topics. These included their support for gay legal equality and for Equality Utah’s sponsored bills, including a bill to allow same-sex couples to adopt children and a bill aimed at addressing anti-gay harassment in the workplace. Endorsed Salt Lake County Council candidates, on the other hand, all support a much-discussed proposal to implement an adult designee program that would allow county employees to put same-sex partners on their health insurance plans.

Hackford-Peer stressed, however, that support for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people was only part of the board’s criteria.

 “We also look at past leadership and viability,” she said. “We're trying to look at the whole candidate.”
She also added that some candidates did not receive nominations simply because they did not respond to a request for an interview. These include incumbents Gov. Jon Huntsman, Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Democrat John Rendell, who is challenging anti-gay Republican Sen. Chris Buttars for his Senate District 10 seat.

“Many people got back with us and many people did not,” she said.

The board of directors endorsed the following candidates

Governor

Bob Springmeyer
Party: Democratic
Platform: Springmeyer has named affordable health insurance, increasing wages for Utah’s workers, improving the state’s high energy, healthcare and tuition costs and decreasing Utah’s high school drop out rate as key issues in his run for Governor’s office.
Web site: bobforgov.org

Attorney General

Jean Welch Hill
Party: Democratic
Platform: A member of former Utah Attorney General Jan Graham’s administration, Hill has spent the past nine years prosecuting educators who “have violated the ethical standards of their profession.” Along with such education-oriented goals as ensuring that parents teach their homeschooled children, Hill also supports putting limits on the interest rates pay day lenders can charge and lending the attorney general’s office’s support to Children’s Justice Centers, which serve minor victims of sexual abuse.
Web site: jeanwelchhill.com

Legislature

Senate District 1: Luz Robles
Party: Democratic
Platform: A former health care policy analyst, state director of ethnic affairs and a current board member of a number of Utah health organizations, Robles’ main priorities include health care reform, increased funding for Utah schools and teachers, and environmental protections.
Web site: roblesforsenate.com

Senate District 19: Bill Hansen
Party: Democratic
Platform: A Weber County Sheriff’s deputy, Hansen has named education, preserving open space and criminal justice as the mainstays of his platform. His March 2008 candidacy announcement on the blog Utah Amicus also included the following statement about equal rights: “His campaign will promote the ideals that all men and women are children of God, created equal, and deserve the right to be represented fairly.”
Web site: votebillhansen.com

Senate District 25: Joe Dulin
Party: Democratic
Platform: Utah State University Business Officer and Certified Public Accountant Joe Dulin supports increased school funding, stricter criteria for teacher certifications, universal health care, environmental regulation and immigration law reform. This statement on equal rights appears on Dulin’s Web site
We need to end the era of the government wasting taxpayer resources trying to define what a family is and move toward helping families by providing the very best educational opportunities, developing affordable health care for all Utah families and creating opportunities for young people to realize their potential.
Web site: joedulin.com  

House District 9: Neil Hansen (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: In the 2008 legislative session the Ogden representative introduced bills to give yearly “cost of living” salary increases to minimum wage earners, lower the years of service required for law enforcement officers, firefighters and public servants to retire with benefits, and to forbid governments and sheriff’s offices from imposing traffic citation quotas on police officers.
House District 12: Mark Sage
Party: Democratic
Platform: In a March post to the blog Utah Amicus announcing his candidacy Sage, the current programs director of the Living Museum, said that he supports improvements to Utah’s education system, fiscal responsibility and the raising of “ethical standards in the Legislature.”
Web site: votemarksage.com

House District 14: Marcie West

Party: Democratic
Platform: The issues in consultant Marcie West’s campaign include increased state funding for mass transportation, increased spending on Utah schools and teacher salaries, banning gifts from lobbyists and mandating the disclosure of campaign funds, and investment in pre-natal care.
Web site: voteformarciewest.com

House District 23:  Jennifer Seelig (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: During the 2008 legislative session Seelig introduced legislation aimed at changing Utah law to make strangulation and suffocation aggravated assault and co-sponsored a bill to strengthen laws against animal abuse. She also co-sponsored a bill by Rep. Phil Reisen, D-Salt Lake City, that sought to appropriate more money to state health departments to better educate the public about gonorrhea and chlamydia. Equality Utah endorsed this bill.
Web site: jenseelig.com

House District 24: Rebecca Chavez-Houck (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: During the 2008 legislative session Chavez-Houck sponsored a bill that sought to allow gay couples to adopt children. She has also supported the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in state employment nondiscrimination laws and has been a proponent of legislation during this session that has targeted illegal immigrants. Other issues Chavez-Houck supports include renewable energy, environmentally and economically sustainable growth, and the establishment of an independent ethics commission to increase public trust in elected officials.
Web site: voterebecca2008.com

House District 25: Christine Johnson
(incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: Johnson sponsored Antidiscrimination Act Amendments, a bill aimed at extending workplace antidiscrimination and anti-harassment policies to gays and transgender people. One of Utah’s two openly lesbian representatives, she has advocated for several gay rights issues, and has cosponsored bills mandating stiffer penalties for animal cruelty and a bill making human trafficking illegal in Utah.
Web site: electjohnson.com

House District 26: David Litvack (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: Litvack authored the Equality Utah-sponsored bill Domestic Violence and Dating Violence Amendments, a bill which would have given gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender victims of domestic violence the same police and legal protections as their straight counterparts. Along with this bill (which the legislature killed in 2007 and 2008) he also authored hate crimes legislation which the legislature passed (albeit in a much weaker form) after seven years of work and discussion.

House District 28: Brian King
Party: Democratic
Platform:  King’s platform includes strengthening Utah’s public education system, reforming campaign financing, and making affordable health care insurance available to all Utahns.
Web site: kingforrep.com

House District 30: Jackie Biskupski
(incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: One of Utah’s two openly lesbian representatives, Biskupski has opposed a number of anti-gay bills, including one in this year’s legislative session that targeted Salt Lake City’s domestic partnership registry (the bill later renamed it the “mutual commitments” registry).  She also opposed Amendment 3, the 2004 constitutional amendment that defined marriage in Utah as the union between a man and a woman.

House District 31: Larry Wiley (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: During this legislative session, Wiley co-sponsored Rep. Seelig’s bill that sought to alter Utah law to make suffocation and strangulation aggravated assault. He also co-sponsored legislation seeking to increase the minimum term of imprisonment for child rape to 25 years to life. A building inspector by profession he has also introduced a number of bills aimed at better reinforcing buildings to withstand earthquakes.

House District 35: Mark Wheatley (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: During this legislative session Wheatley co-sponsored an anti-bullying and hazing bill by Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss, D-Salt Lake, and a bill by Salt Lake Democratic Rep. Phil Reisen aimed at appropriating more state money to the Utah Department of Health’s education efforts on gonorrhea and chlamydia. Equality Utah endorsed both bills.

House District 36: Phil Reisen (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: During the 2008 legislative session Reisen introduced a bill that sought to give state health departments more money to educate the public about gonorrhea and chlamydia. Equality Utah endorsed the bill.

House District 37: Carol Spackman-Moss (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: Spackman-Moss introduced a bill seeking to create statewide standards for addressing bullying and hazing in public schools. Equality Utah drafted this bill.

House District 40: Lynn Hemingway (incumbent)
Party: Democratic
Political History: Hemingway co-sponsored Salt Lake City Democratic Rep. Jennifer Seelig’s bill that sought to change Utah law to make strangulation and suffocation aggravated assault. He also co-sponsored a bill by Rep. Phil Reisen, D-Salt Lake City, to appropriate more money to Utah health departments to educate the public about chlamydia and gonorrhea.  

House District 42: Nathan Gedge
Party: Democratic
Platform: Educators Mutual Insurance employee Gedge’s platform includes support for public education and mass transportation, environmental protection and campaign finance reform.
Web site: nathangedge.com

House District 45: Laura Black

Party: Democratic
Platform: Educator Black supports increased funding for Utah’s schools, economic development favorable to small businesses, and resources that promote and secure families, such as DARE and neighborhood watch efforts.
Web site: votelaurablack.com

House District 53: Kathy Lofft
Party: Democratic
Platform: Lofft, an attorney, favors incentives for clean energy development (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.), campaign finance and health insurance reforms (including the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program) and education reforms including all-day kindergarten and affordable college education. She is opposed to school voucher initiatives.
Web site: votelofft.com

Salt Lake County

Salt Lake County Mayor: Peter Corroon
Party: Democratic
Political History: Elected mayor in 2004, Corroon has stressed the development of alternative energy sources, preserving the county’s open spaces, creating affordable housing for low-income residents and sustainable urban planning for Utah’s most populous county. Upon taking office he also created the Council on Diversity Affairs to address the needs of Salt Lake County’s various diverse communities. On the subject of equal rights for all, Corroon has stated on his Web site: “I will not compromise on issues that affect people’s dignity.  As county mayor, I insist that all our county employees be treated with respect and dignity, and that they in turn treat all our citizens with respect when fulfilling their duties.”
Web site: votecorroon.com

Salt Lake County Council District 4: Jani Iwamoto
Party: Democratic
Platform: An attorney who has worked in consumer protection litigation, Iwamoto has stated that, if elected she will work for environmental protection, economic development, education and planning for Salt Lake County’s urban growth.
Web site: votejani.com

Salt Lake County Council District 6: Roger Harding
Party: Democratic
Platform: Harding’s platform includes sustainable community growth, investment in alternative energy sources and health care reform. If elected, he has also said that he will work towards establishing a Democratic majority on the County Council.

Salt Lake County Council District At-Large: Randy Horiuchi
Party: Democratic
Political History: Former County Commissioner Horiuchi has served on the County Council for 16 years. He is also a long-time supporter of fellow Councilwoman Jenny Wilson’s proposal to extend insurance benefits to the same-sex partners of county employees.

Summit County

Summit County Council A: Sally Elliot
Party: Democratic
Web site: tellsally.com (under construction at press time)

Favorable Recommendations

Although Equality Utah did not endorse the following candidates, the group praised them for their support of and stance on gay rights issues.

Attorney General: Andrew McCollough
Party: Libertarian
Platform: A First and Fourth Amendment lawyer, McCullough supports free speech, the end to the war on drugs, and Utahns’ right to privacy. He has also criticized sodomy laws (which are often used to target gays and lesbians) as violations of the constitutional right to privacy.
Web site: andrewmccullough.com

House District 23: Gordon Storrs
Party: Republican
Platform: An openly gay man and member of the Log Cabin Republicans, businessman and educator Storrs supports available and affordable education, fiscal responsibility, an openness in government proceedings, and policies that support “every family regardless of its make up.” He has posted the following statement to his Web site: “Every person in our community deserves to be treated with dignity and every person's worth needs to be recognized, particularly by those who work and legislate for us. Every one should have a place at the table in this great state.”
Web site: gordonstorrs.com

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