Incumbent tries to advance

Apr 11 2012 - 10:36pm



NORTH SALT LAKE -- Incumbent Becky Edwards of North Salt Lake will be facing challenger Aaron Nelson of West Bountiful in the Republican fight for the party's nomination for State Representative District 20.

Edwards, 51, serving her second term, would like to continue her efforts in education reform and economic growth.

"I am continuing to look for innovations regarding choices for parents and students and seeing the role that education plays in the economic development for the state," said Edwards.

She has been heavily involved in the legislative push for online education, concurrent enrollment, and partnerships with higher education.

Edwards said she got involved in politics because it was a natural extension of her community involvement during the 18 years she lived in the Bountiful and North Salt Lake area.

"I wanted to be at a level where I could speak for my neighbors and people in the community," said Edwards. "I think one of the hallmarks of my service has been my commitment to representation."

Edwards said a majority of the legislation she has worked on started with conversations she's had with constituents. Through the normal course of her outreach, Edwards learned of opportunities for improvement and looked to see how the issues could be addressed legislatively.

"I really see myself as a vehicle for translating the needs of the community into potential legislation," said Edwards.

For instance, after learning from constituents that air quality is a concern, she began working to get legislation in place that addresses the issue.

"There is no other mechanism for that individual to receive Legislative help than from the person they have elected, a role I take seriously," she said.

Currently, one of the big issues for candidates across the state is how potential revenue would be allocated if the state were to take over land currently in the hands of the federal government.

Edwards has voted in favor of the state's efforts, and with the potentially large amounts of revenue involved, would like to see initial funding go toward education, especially putting caps on class sizes.

"There is definitely a connection between states that have larger control over their lands and their ability to fund education," said Edwards.

Nelson, a fire captain with the Unified Fire Authority of Greater Salt Lake, and paramedic with Intermountain Life Flight, feels his broad perspective will be beneficial in representing the district.

He has a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's of public administration from the University of Utah. He recently graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., with a master's in homeland security. He has served in the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard.

Given his experience with education and public safety, they would be his main focuses while in office.

"It's not just what I say, it's something I've dedicated my life to," said Nelson.

In his fire and medical career, Nelson said he learned that those fields are driven by certifications and tests.

"I take that approach with what I want to do in government," said Nelson, referring to his knowledge of what qualifications would make a good state representative.

"I have a bit of an unusual background with a good mix of work and academic credentials, so I can represent everyone in our area, whether it is a small business owner, academics and working professionals," said Nelson.

Nelson said he wants to make sure the needs of Davis County are heard and is concerned that current legislation focuses too much on Salt Lake City and rural Utah.

"Davis County doesn't fit either of those," said Nelson. "Our interests should be looked into and then the rest of the state could learn from us, too."

Nelson is supportive of the state's efforts to take over federal land.

"I'm a little bothered when the feds come in for something that should be state-owned," said Nelson. "I support the proper role and function of government and want to keep it at the lowest level possible."

Nelson said he would make sure the revenue from such land would be used to fund education and help improve the delivery of education to students.

"The education system is going to take a little more work, so the money should be spent in the best possible way and I'm not sure that is going on right now," said Nelson.

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