Standard-Examiner Editorial Board
By now, all residents have received their vote-by-mail ballots if you previously registered to vote. Those must be mailed by Nov. 5, with Election Day being Nov. 6.
Of course, if you did not make the deadline to get a mailed ballot, all is not lost. You can still participate in voting by going to select locations on Nov. 6 to cast your ballot in person.
There are many important issues facing Northern Utah voters this round of midterm elections that need your input.
On a state level, we will select a new U.S. senator, vote for U.S. House representatives and decide whether or not to make several changes to Utah’s constitution and laws. We encourage you to read up on the items on your ballot to make informed decisions you feel are the best for your family and our community.
Locally, some residents will be able to vote on a school bond, county commissioners, state representatives and senators.
While we do not have time to weigh in on all the issues you face, we felt it important to share some of our thoughts as we’ve watched and covered candidates and ballot issues.
Ogden school bond
Residents in the Ogden School District have been presented with an updated proposal by the district for an $87 million bond to upgrade Polk and Wasatch elementary schools and replace Horace Mann and T.O. Smith elementary schools. Taylor Canyon Elementary will likely close if the bond passes. The bond will allow the district to upgrade buildings that do not currently meet modern safety and learning standards. It will require a tax increase residents will see each month, if passed.
After making adjustments and listening to parents’ concerns last year, we think the district has proposed a better plan, and one that we would encourage voters in the district to support by voting “yes” on their ballots. These upgrades will greatly improve the safety and functionality of our children’s schools.
This item on the ballot should not be confused with non-binding Question 1, which relates to a statewide gas tax to raise funds for roads and education.
Perhaps the most widely debated Proposition voters have heard of this year is Proposition 2. The Proposition seeks to add to Utah’s existing cannabis law to create a “state-controlled process that allows persons with certain illnesses to acquire and use medical cannabis,” as well as establish licensed facilities that grow, process and sell medical cannabis, or under limited circumstances allow people to grow up to six plants for personal medical use.
The issue has been debated by the Utah Legislature for years now with no enactment, which is why voters took it themselves to the ballot. While legislators scrambled to come up with a reported new piece of legislation for medical marijuana this last month in response to the ballot measure, there is no guarantee that they will continue forward with it after the election and pass it, should voters say no on Proposition 2. They have had years to take action and have continually sat on it.
We acknowledge that Proposition 2 is not perfect in its entirety. But it provides a base, if passed by voters, for Utah to work with, improve and move forward in addressing the needs of very sick children and adults suffering from diseases with which opioids and other prescription medications have not sufficiently aided. Utah families should not be driven to other states to get the medical redress they so desperately need.
We encourage voters to vote “yes” on Proposition 4 seeking to create an independent commission to evaluate redistricting plans impacting congressional, legislative and state school board districts. While adding an extra layer of oversight can often become cumbersome, we believe the creation of voting districts should be done with careful and fair consideration outside of political motivation.
If passed, the Legislature has the ability to enact or reject the commission’s recommendations. However, they will be doing so based on fact, and not on their own political affiliation and motivations on how to draw boundaries so as to guarantee a personal, political win. As it stands, the Utah Legislature currently decides how to divide the state into districts — their own districts.
With Sen. Orrin Hatch’s upcoming departure, this Senate seat will see a new representative for the first time in more than 40 years. Former governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney moved to Utah after he lost in the presidential election, and has since campaigned on his knowledge, experience and connections to represent Utah. Romney has demonstrated thorough knowledge of Utah’s needs, not just along the Wasatch Front but among other more rural counties in Utah as well.
Democratic challenger Jenny Wilson, while far behind in name recognition, has served Salt Lake well as a councilwoman and has recognizably made efforts to get to know all areas of the state despite campaigning on far fewer resources. However, we think Romney will bring significant experience and political clout in representing Utah’s future, which is why the Standard-Examiner is endorsing him in this election. We believe and expect him to represent Utah’s values, as well as to be willing to stand up for those values even if it is not among popular national or party opinion.
Serving 16 years in Congress is no short stint. Rep. Rob Bishop is looking for another bid for re-election for what he says is his last term. We appreciate the work he has tried to accomplish on behalf of the 1st District in Utah for these many years. Voters have agreed for the most part, or he would not have been re-elected.
However, as our nation’s politics grow more uncivil, and our problems persist without Congress reaching compromised agreements, we believe Utah can influence that. Third party candidate Eric Eliason, under the banner of the United Utah Party, is running against Bishop, along with Democratic Candidate Lee Castillo. Eliason’s moderate opinions and issues resonate with Utahns, and it is refreshing to have a candidate so wholly dedicated to the state and uninfluenced by national industry donors whose money may or may not correlate with federal decisions.
Eliason’s strong business background is an asset when looking at fiscal accountability and economic growth. His transparency is what Northern Utah voters deserve, which is why we feel compelled to endorse him in the 1st District race.
Regardless of where your political viewpoints might lie, we urge you to get out and vote. It matters. It counts. And these decisions will impact you greatly.