Newcomers seek congressional nod

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 1:44 PM

Scott Schwebke

OGDEN — The two candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for Utah’s 1st Congressional District seat are confident their plan to provide grassroots representation will propel them to victory in the June 26 primary.

Political newcomers Ryan C. Combe and Donna McAleer believe U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, should be voted out of office, enabling them to bring fresh ideas and leadership to Washington.

“Bishop has been in politics so long that he is out of touch,” said Combe.

McAleer agrees.

“You have career politicians and Bishop is one of them,” she said. “He is missing the perspective of the people.”

The winner of the primary will face Bishop in November’s general election.

Combe, 30, who lives in South Ogden, is the director of marketing and member relations for Weber State University’s alumni association. He is also the owner of Counter Culture Consulting, which helps emerging companies establish a strong brand identity.

Combe also founded Zenyo LLC, the parent company of Spoon Me, a frozen yogurt and smoothie business that grew to 70 stores in the U.S. and Canada. He sold his stake in Zenyo in 2009.

Combe has attended Snow College and Weber State University. He and his wife, Alicia, are the parents of two sons.

McAleer, 46, of Park City, is a graduate of West Point and served in the Army as a platoon leader, company executive officer and deputy public affairs officer. She left the Army to attend the University of Virginia where she received a master’s degree in business administration.

McAleer has worked as vice president of global logistics and support services for GenRad Inc., an electronic test equipment firm.

In 2000, McAleer left the corporate world and moved to Park City to pursue a lifelong dream of training to represent the U.S. in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in the bobsled. She finished fourth in the Olympic trials as a bobsled driver, missing the Olympic team by two spots. She and her husband, Ted, are the parents of a daughter.

Combe believes that as a political newcomer he can bring a fresh perspective to Congress. “The fact that I haven’t run for office before works to my advantage,” he said. “I have a clean slate and am not owing to anyone.”

McAleer said she’s running to foster collaboration and ease divisiveness between Democrat and Republican lawmakers. “I’m tired of gridlock and obstructionism in Washington,” she said.

If elected, Combe said he would work to ensure that federal funds are spent wisely on programs that will have the biggest impact on Americans.

“We need to invest in education, health care for citizens and infrastructure to create jobs and grow the middle class,” he said.

McAleer said she supports legislation to help small businesses succeed.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our community and we need to give them adequate capital to grow,” she said.

McAleer also favors a balanced federal budget and term limits for Congress.

“Without term limits, you lose touch with constituents,” she said.

In addition, Combe said as a member of Congress he would also work to help veterans leaving the military make a smoother transition back to civilian life. He wants to work with Weber State University in establishing the best veterans’ center in the nation at the school’s Davis County campus that would provide employment counseling to recently discharged military personnel.

Combe also said he supports a community approach to ensuring that Hill Air Force Base remains viable and prevents the issue of the base’s future from being politicized.

“It’s a way to keep the men and women in uniform as the legitimate focus,” he said. “Hill Air Force Base has been politicized by every elected official over the last 40 years. I want to put the focus back on the incredibly trained men and women at the base.”

McAleer said she, too, would be a voice in Washington to help Hill Air Force Base remain successful.

“It’s a big part of our (Utah’s) economy,” she said. “It’s important to our national security.”

McAleer added her varied background as an Army officer, business leader and head of the non-profit People’s Health Clinic, based in Park City, gives her a unique perspective into military affairs, education, economic and environmental issues.

“I’m a fiscal conservative with a social conscience,” she said.

McAleer opposes efforts by Bishop and Republican state lawmakers to pass legislation to gain state control of what is now federal land in Utah.

“Ironically much has been spent and millions more will likely be spent in Utah on a bill that the state Legislature’s own lawyers say is unconstitutional,” she added.

Legislation was introduced in September 2011 by Bishop and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, authorizing western states to select 5 percent of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands within their state to be sold or leased, with the revenue generated dedicated solely to public education. Wilderness areas designated by Congress, trust lands, National Historic Sites or lands located within a military reservation are excluded from lands that may be selected by states.

Looking ahead, Combe said he has a better perspective than McAleer to succeed Bishop because he has been a long-time constituent of the 1st District.

McAleer noted that her military and business background sets her apart from Combe as the most qualified candidate.

”I will get things done and deliver results for Utah,” she said.

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