Education is the issue on the minds of Richard Bagley and Douglas MacDonald, vying for the Democratic nomination for District 18 state representative.
The winner will take on Republican incumbent Roger Barrus in November's general election.
A Utah native who served eight years in the military, Centerville's Richard Bagley is the husband of a Davis High school teacher and father of three boys, ranging in age from 17 to 22.
He now manages Intermountain Healthcare's $1.2 billion supply chain fund and says Utah's last legislative session is what inspired him to run.
"I think government has an impact on all of us and watching the legislative session this year and looking at all of the personal mandates and the lack of focus on what I would call common sense priorities got me motivated enough to go in and file," he said. "Specifically, a lack of funding and focus on education."
Bagley's grandmother, mother and wife have all taught in Utah schools, while he has taught courses for the University of Phoenix. This background provides insight into what he feels is the problem with the state's focus on education, specifically trying to figure out a bill Sen. Aaron Osmond passed during the last legislative session that restructured teacher's pay.
"It's really a slap in the face of all our professionals that work in the system," Bagley said.
Referring to Gov. Gary Herbert's demand for federal lands to be returned to the state, Bagley is wary about the motivation and timing, and what will happen if the land is returned. He suspects the land would be privatized and sold to oil and energy companies, noting the $10 million set aside to fight the battle in court would have been much better spent on something like education.
"I think it's long overdue that the federal government returns those lands," he said. "But I'm a little bit cynical about the whole motivation behind this. Nobody has indicated at a state level what's the motivation and priority for doing this, and where it is the money is going to go."
MacDonald also feels education has been mismanaged in Utah.
"I'm running because of my concern for public education," MacDonald said. "Spending has been systemically decreased since 1996, so that's my primary reason for running."
Originally from Oakland, Calif., MacDonald studied public administration at BYU and economics at the University of Utah. He says decades of experience working as chief economist at the Utah Tax Commission and as a legislative fiscal analyst with other state governments and local businesses gives him the tools to "hit the ground running."
MacDonald and his wife have raised four children over the last 25 years in Farmington. If elected, he said he'd look at restoring tax levels that were funding Utah's education system prior to the mid-1990s, as earlier work with the Utah Education Association led him to discover Constitutional amendments and tax reductions that hurt the system.
Pointing to a long list of problems including class sizes, spending, and teacher recruitment, MacDonald said it's important to develop the state's children into the next generation of sought-after professionals.
"(When) companies come in here, they want smart people to run their businesses, they don't want average people."
When it comes to federal lands being returned to the state and any revenue from that transaction, MacDonald said he'd like to see less spending on infrastructure and more money put into public education.
"The shift needs to go back from roads to public education and higher education," he said. "If we want to attract the high-paying jobs here from out of state and keep the ones that we have, our kids need to be competitive not just with surrounding Mountain West states, but with the best of the Pacific states too."