Two square off at convention for a chance in November
By ANTONE CLARK
Two Democrats vying for a chance to run in November for the District 16 House seat currently held by Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, both think a change is in order.
Denise Fowler and Douglas Sill square off Saturday at the county convention in Farmington for the chance to be on the ballot in November.
Brett Garner, chairman of the Democratic Party in Davis County, said the race could be decided by a vote from delegates or could go to a regular primary vote in June. He estimated there may be as many as 100 delegates who will have a say in the race.
Sill, 57, said he is running because it is time for a "restoration to reason." He called for an end to the many message bills the Legislature has been sending to Washington, D.C. He also thinks a moderate voice is needed representing Davis County.
Fowler, 65, cites a number of key state issues, from a bill on teaching abstinence-only sex education to access to public documents as reasons people should look to change the existing setup.
"I believe it is time to change. It is time for people to vote more knowledgeably about the issues fed to them by politicians just seeking re-election," Fowler said.
Sill is a graduate of Weber State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in botany and history, and of the University of Utah where he earned a master's in chemistry teaching with an emphasis on environmental science. He currently teaches ninth-grade earth system science at Farmington Junior High.
The father of five, Sill is also president and water master for the Sill and Adams Ditch Company, which provides secondary water to portions of North Fort Lane and Church Street in Layton.
Sill thinks state legislators have wasted too much time addressing the federal government and not enough time focused on state issues.
"If the state of Utah really needs to send a message to Washington, then why not use our duly elected representatives to do it? The state Legislature can then spend time on matters pressing Utah, such as education and immigration," Sill said.
A native of England, Fowler gained her U.S. citizenship more than 30 years ago. She was a Republican for many years, but said she saw she had a better chance to improve things as a Democrat. This is her first run for office.
She worked for a number of years for a school district in Palo Alto, Calif., and then worked six years for the Electrical Power Research Institute. After moving to Utah, she worked for the Davis County Chamber of Commerce. For the past 10 years, she has worked with a local Job Corps Center, helping at-risk and disadvantaged youths earn their high school diploma or GED.
Fowler listed four issues she thinks need immediate attention: education, health reform, energy prices and assisting small business.
It's also the first run for Sill, who thinks the land battle the Legislature initiated this year to gain control of federal land in the Beehive State is nothing more than the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s. He called the movement a waste of time and money.
"The proponents of the land swap would have us believe it will give the state a windfall of money that could be used for education. They give the impression that the feds give the state of Utah nothing for these lands. In actuality we receive from the feds 'payment in lieu of taxes' for these lands," Sill said.
He said the federal government also provides services from range restoration to wildland fire protection to mining and oil leases.
"I believe if the public was honestly informed and educated on this matter, we would have seen as large an outcry for the governor to dismiss this land swap as we did with the sex education bill," he said of the land challenge.
Fowler suggests the land bid needs further scrutiny. She listed pros and cons, from possible access to coal, natural gas and green energy fuels, to the way the federal government handles federal parks, in comparison to the way state parks are managed.
Fowler is for the right to bear arms, but she thinks the January shooting in Ogden, where one officer was killed and five were injured during a drug raid, points to the need to limit the size of ammunition clips and more background screening for all gun purchases.
She also doesn't believe in allowing people to enter the country illegally or to make access to services too easy.
"If these benefits are less available to illegal aliens, I believe there would be less incentive to come here. Those who have made a life in America and have children born in America need the opportunity to become legal citizens, at a cost, or be sent home," Fowler said.
If neither candidate receives 60 percent of the vote, a primary will be necessary.