NORTH OGDEN — A battle is shaping up for the District 19 seat in the Utah Senate, which encompasses North Ogden and environs, the Ogden Valley and parts of Summit and Morgan counties.
Sen. Allen Christensen, a Republican from North Ogden, won’t seek reelection after four terms in the spot and at least three candidates have launched bids to vie for the post.
“Sixteen years is a long time. I never intended to be in there that long,” Christensen, 73, said. “I’m old enough that I’m going to pass the torch off to someone younger with more energy.”
Two Democrats have launched bids for the post in elections this year, Katy Owens and Chris Neville, both from Summit County. Republican Johnny Ferry of Pleasant View filed paperwork with state election officials indicating his intent to gather signatures to get on the ballot in the race. Christensen, meantime, said a second GOPer is also interested in vying.
Aside from North Ogden, District 19 extends into Pleasant View, Harrisville and northern Ogden within Weber County.
Christensen, a retired pediatric dentist who served on the North Ogden City Council before running for the Senate, said he plans to spend more time with his grandkids once retired. Still, he isn’t done in the Senate yet. He’s planning to pursue legislation in the coming session cracking down on vaping, “trying to regulate it.” He’s already proposed two bills, one taxing sales involving electronic cigarette materials, among other things. The other would augment efforts to prevent youth use of tobacco.
As for the contenders to take over the District 19 seat, Owens is a public policy consultant on election policy.
“I believe that talking to and really listening to everyone, regardless of political affiliation or background, is the key to making good public policy,” she said on her website. Her big dream, she said, “is to see everyone eligible get out and vote.”
Assuring affordable healthcare, promoting education and boosting use of “clean energy” are among her priorities. She also lamented a sense of disenfranchisement she feels from some. “Here in Utah I’ve talked to dozens of voters who don’t feel heard, who don’t feel represented,” she said on her website. “Our democracy depends on the participation of our citizens.”
Neville is a software engineer, working mainly with the ski industry. He ran for the District 53 seat in the Utah House in 2018, ultimately losing to the incumbent, Republican Logan Wilde.
On his website, Neville put an emphasis on being open to constituents.
“You should always feel welcome to reach out to your state senator,” he wrote. “I will showcase the hard work that we accomplish together, welcome criticism when we don’t see eye-to-eye and will serve you with honesty, accountability and respect,” he wrote.
He puts a focus on protecting the environment. He expressed concern over climate change and calls for use of more sustainable energy resources. He also advocates giving school districts “the resources they need” and assuring affordable healthcare.
Growth, too, is a concern. “The state legislature should give counties and cities the tools they need to guide responsible, sustainable growth. The state should help fund regional transit solutions that alleviate traffic and reduce the need for endless road expansion,” he wrote.
Ferry didn’t immediately respond to a query seeking comment.