The two candidates running for State Representative in District 17 both view education as a vital issue in the upcoming term.
Incumbent Stewart Barlow, 55, says education is one of the main things legislators need to emphasize in the coming years.
“I fought hard to fund growth in public education, and we’d like to continue to see more of that money going to help with school supplies and help for the teachers,” said Barlow, a Republican.
He would like to focus on supporting online education initiatives that would include training grants for math teachers and online school evaluations. Barlow is currently working with Education First, an organization dedicated to improving education in Utah, to set up initiatives that would identify kids who are falling behind before they reach third grade.
The Fruit Heights resident has held his legislative seat for a year, voted in by the party when the seat opened up a year ago, and would like to continue his momentum in the upcoming term.
“I think I’ve shown an unusual level of success for a first-year representative, and have a good vision of what’s coming down the road,” said Barlow.
Bonnie Flint, 50, also a Fruit Heights resident, feels her many years of experience in education will be critical to help further improve education.
“Legislation should better represent education because that’s the biggest issue in our state,” said Flint. “Since I’ve been in education for 25 years, I’ve seen it done poorly and I know when money is being wasted and when it’s not.”
Working as the secondary schools world language supervisor for Davis School District, she has seen how a little money and a lot of experience and hard work can pay off. She has also seen the impact of the state’s low per-pupil spending, which she believes has resulted in lower student scores over the years.
“I have devoted my life to give students the very best future they can have and when the state doesn’t provide the best funding, that is not OK because they are our future,” said Flint.
The two come from differing backgrounds, with Flint an education administrator and Barlow a doctor for more than 20 years.
Barlow received his medical training at Georgetown University. His signature bill last year was House Bill 25, Patient Identity Validation. The bill is expected to save money by consolidating services for confirming patient information among hospitals, health clinics and doctors’ offices.
Barlow says his medical experience is valuable for making decisions involving the state budget. “Behind education, Medicaid is the second largest expenditure of our tax money, and this entity doubles every 10 years,” said Barlow. “Our fear is as it continues to grow, it has to take money from somewhere else, so there is some value to having a physician there that knows the system and can present an insider’s view on some of these expenditures.”
Barlow is also concerned about Hill Air Force Base and the cutbacks in defense spending, and wants to make sure the state is proactive in making sure there is enough funding to support the base.
“I think I have the experience behind me and a proven record for success and getting results,” said Barlow. “I think I’m working hard for the voters and would be honored to have more time.”
Barlow and his wife, Marie, have been married for 28 years, and they have six kids.
Flint feels there needs to be more diversity in legislation. In her experience, it seems like everyone has the same ideas, background and experience.
“You can build a stronger team when you have different strengths and opinions, and they currently don’t have enough of that to make a difference,” said Flint.
She wants to see a better balance among the legislators. “Because I am an expert on education and am recognized worldwide for that, I’m what the state needs right now,” said Flint. “Education has to be our main priority. I have lived it and can create major change.”
Flint grew up in Layton before moving to Fruit Heights. She received her bachelor’s degree from Weber State in French and English and a master’s in education from National University in California. She has been married to her husband, Doug, for 30 years and is the mother of four children.
“I was raised in District 17, and my husband and I decided to raise our children here. I know our community, I know our strengths, and I know what we can do better,” said Flint.
District 17 covers Fruit Heights and portions of Layton and Kaysville.