Monday, December 10, 2018

Hip Hip Hooray! What's Happened Since the Election:

Following the election on November 6th, we had a two-week canvas period that ended with the County Clerk, Sherrie Swensen, certifying votes on November 20th. Whew! It was good to have official word.

I'd been ahead since election night, and in the end I won with a 3% margin of victory. After joking for months that I was only hoping it wouldn't come down to a coin toss again, and saying that I only needed to win by one vote, I was very happy that a) I won and b) I won by enough votes to prevent a recount.

So thank you to all who voted! I am especially thankful to those who voted for me, of course, but it's great to see people in District 43 engaged in the process.

Since the election, I've been very, very busy with all kinds of legislative things happening. Here is an overview, but I will elaborate more in the next few posts to explain what things were discussed at each event:

Tues. 11/6 - Election Day

Thurs. 11/8 - House Leadership Elections in the evening

Wed. 11/14 - Interim Day - New Photos taken for the 2019 Roster, Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice Committee, Political Subdivisions Committee, Majority Caucus, and Legislature Welcome to visiting USOC leaders

Mon. 11/19 - Met with Jordan School District Board about a bill they are interested in dealing with Special Education in the state

Tues. 11/20 - Went to County Government Chambers, where the election was officially certified

Tues. 11/27 - Attended COG Lunch (City and County Governments...not sure what the COG actually stands for. I wonder if everyone has forgotten. It's always just called "COG."

Fri. 11/30 - UPMRA Lunch - learned about issues affecting petroleum marketers and convenience store owners

Mon. 12/3 - Special Session and Caucus Meeting (Prop 2 implementation bill)

Wed. 12/5 - Attended Sutherland Institute Open House and UEA "Welcome to My Classroom" event

Mon. 12/10 - Salt Lake County Board of Health Breakfast

Monday, November 12, 2018

Still counting...

An unprecedented number of people mailed in ballots in this year's midterm election. Popular and unpopular propositions probably motivated more people to vote than the politicians themselves - myself included.

So the County Clerk has still not been able to finalize the race for House District 43. Since numbers were first released at 8pm on election night, I've been ahead about 3%. I'm hoping that trend will continue.

I thought I was only joking when I said I hoped to decide this race without a coin toss. Then I said I only had to win by one vote, which is true - but I am hopeful and confident it will not come to that.

Last time they updated the official count, I was ahead by 288 votes. Many people have told me that is a comfortable lead and I will all but surely win...but I am looking forward to final numbers just to be sure.

Here is a story about turnout:

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Win or Lose, THANK YOU for Voting!

In a little while, I will start getting ready to go to the Republican Victory Party at Vivint Arena downtown. The party is scheduled to begin when the polls close at 8pm. I hope to get there a little bit early.

And I plan to win!

But even if I do not win, I want to thank everyone who has participated in this election process, especially the voters. During this election cycle, we've learned that self-government can be obnoxious at times (watching so many negative ads!) and complicated (all of the props and amendments!), and time-consuming (long lines again at some polling places!)

But it works because the American people have made it work for 242 years. Amazingly, they never run out of candidates, and voters always show up, at least the ones who take an active interest in how things are going, and since you're reading a politician's web site, I assume that YOU are one of those people making it work.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Jordan River Commission and West Jordan Sr. Center Today (11/01/2018)

This morning I spoke at our monthly Jordan River Commission meeting about the need for signs above the river at major intersecting roads to alert people to the river below - not for safety reasons, etc., but for awareness.

If we want people to care about the river and see it as an untapped resource in our valley, they will need to know where it is in proximity to them.

Signs would do a lot to spur an interest in the river, increase curiosity about it, and engender a desire to protect it.

Even the Mississippi River has a sign announcing that it is the Mississippi River, a fact which everyone probably already knows since it's a mile wide in places. But in Salt Lake, we cross canals and tributaries all the time in addition to the river, so we can never be quite sure.

A woman who has been on the commission for six years told me we will have to take it up with UDOT, but she liked the idea because people in her area of Herriman do not realize they live near the Jordan River.  It's out of sight, out of mind, but signs would definitely help!

After the Commission meeting, I went over to the West Jordan Sr. Center to urge people to vote. I was surprised by several things:

1. How delicious the food looked. Today taco salad was on the menu, and it looked really good. They have just one cook, but she has a few volunteers who help her out.

2. How congenial the atmosphere was. Everyone sat at round tables of 8 to 10 people and conversed amiably. Everyone was very supportive and kind to me and to each other. Really a lovely atmosphere. I can't wait to go back, and even considered volunteering there...after the campaign.

3. How few had already voted. I thought seniors would be the first to mail in their ballots, but many of them are still deliberating. One man who recently moved here from Maryland said he is a Republican but in Utah he plans to vote for the Constitution Party. I told him I don't have an opponent  from that party, and he said Republican is his default in that scenario. Whew! Of course I'm not sure if he lives in District 43 or not. Some seniors came from other areas of the valley, probably for the cooking and the friendship.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Leaves Changing, Pumpkins on Porches...and Campaigning and Voting

The flowering pear trees on Grizzly Way in our district are something to behold in the fall! 
I was thinking yesterday as I was out posting more signs that I will forever associate fall with elections now.

The campaign started in the summer and will end almost exactly one week from now when the polls close at 8pm on Tuesday, November 6th.

If you are a traditionalist who likes to vote in person on Election Day, there are three voting centers in West Jordan (and several others across the valley. For a list, go to

  • They will be open 7am-8pm.
  • ID will be required. 
  • The three voting centers in WJ are: 

    • WJ Viridian Library (8030 S. 1825 W.)
    • Bingham Creek Library (4834 W. 9000 S.) 
    • Copper Hills LDS Church (5349 W. 9000 S.) 
  • If there is a long line to go inside to vote, you can "walk & drop" your vote-by-mail ballot in a drop-box there. 
Be heard on the school board, in the state House and Senate, and in Washington! 
Don't forget to VOTE!!! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Notes from the Campaign Trail

I am well-known for being camera-shy, but campaigning has made me do strange things, like post a larger-than-life photo of myself on a billboard. Before my special election, I had never posted a recent photo on any social media page. 

Election Day is less than two weeks away. My every third thought is about the race: Am I doing enough? Am I reaching enough people? Do they like my message? 

My mind is on some sort of loop. I'm a broken record. You could almost say that I am obsessed, though I do not like that word or that feeling. 

I suppose I am excited -- which is not to say that I am over-confident, because I have no idea how close the election will be, or whether I will actually be victorious. I certainly hope to be. 

As a lifelong political observer, I've often wondered what compels people to run? Campaigning certainly doesn’t look fun, and a lot of it isn’t, so why do some politicians do this over and over again? 

A cynic would say politicians run because of the money. They must not know how little part-time legislators are paid, and how much income many forego in order to serve. One small business owner, who retired from the House a few years ago, told me he estimated he had lost about $500,000 by serving over the years. He had to quit the House to prepare for his own retirement. Most people cannot miss over two months of work in their regular jobs and not feel it in their pockets, or at least in their 401Ks.

A cynic would say politicians run because they have a lust for power. Maybe this is true for some, but in the legislature, at least, no one person has a tremendous amount of power. Very few even have name recognition. All power in the Utah legislature is divvied up among 104 people.

Being a legislator is kind of like having a temporary superpower, but it is a power vested in me by the people of my district - a power that can easily be taken away, which is the whole point of these elections. 

So I think I'm figuring out the sub-conscious reason politicians run for re-election over and over again, and it’s about love. I know how ridiculously hokey this sounds, but I've actually experienced it. 

I was doing a honk and wave on a busy street recently, and, as the name implies,  people were honking and waving back. It was a sensation not unlike getting "hearts" on a Facebook post, only these "hearts" were from complete strangers, people who may have seen my signs or perused a mailer, but otherwise did not know me. 

I interpreted their honks and waves as little shouts of, "I'm voting for you!" or "I like your campaign!" or "Keep going!" The embarrassment I had felt initially as I began to wave wildly at passing cars soon felt like some sort of mutual appreciation. It was exhilarating.

I experienced this thrill again when a constituent who had my sign in her yard told me of a neighbor who reacted enthusiastically to it, saying, "I just love her!" - a neighbor I had never met. I felt that Facebook "heart" sensation again. Love. 

The love goes both ways. I feel it. I want to know everyone in my district, and I want everyone in my district to know me. To that end, I've hosted town halls and meet and greets. I've been a fixture at school board and city council meetings with my ear to the ground to find out what people are thinking and what their needs are. I've responded to countless emails, even the antagonistic ones. I've created ads and videos and banners and signs. 

I've put myself out there, opened myself up to criticism, balanced my already full life with these new responsibilities, and loved (almost) every second it. 

Because I've done it all for love. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Using Technology to Address Age-Old Problems of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Human Trafficking

Concerned about domestic violence statistics in my community, I recently opened a bill file with the Office of Legal Research and General Counsel to draft legislation that will help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

This bill expands on the effectiveness of the Safe UT app, which has successfully thwarted school violence, bullying and teen suicides.

Users of this new app will be able to connect with crisis counselors instantly and anonymously at the push of a button to chat online or by telephone. The counselors will provide a listening ear, of course, but beyond that they will be able to inform callers of all options available to them. The victims in these cases will then be able to make informed decisions and, just as importantly, control the cadence of events that follow.

These very personal crimes are under-reported for a variety of reasons: fear of reprisals from the perpetrator, fear that the victim will not be believed, feelings of guilt and shame that the victim "allowed" the crime to happen or used bad judgment in associating with the perpetrator, fear that the victim's life is so enmeshed with the perpetrator that if he is severely punished, she will effectively be punished also.

Domestic violence is rampant in our community and needs to end, because no one should live in fear. Domestic violence can be deadly. Two thirds of women in Utah who die by firearm are killed by their intimate partners - only 2% are killed by strangers.

The cost to implement this bill will be minimal, because the University of Utah created most of the technology required while building the state-of-the-art Safe UT app from the ground up. Consequently, this app will have a quicker roll-out, and it will not require an on-going licensing fee. Crisis counselors may be connected from other hotlines who specialize in sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. All data will be HIPPA-secure and PHI-protected, just like Safe UT data.

Some of the best aspects of this app are:

1) The victim can choose to remain anonymous. Studies show that victims will discuss intimate matters like sexual assault or domestic violence in an anonymous setting, like a Reddit page. It is sometimes easier to text questions and concerns than to use an emotional human voice.

2) The crisis counselor will be trained to listen and to clarify options. Victims often consult with their closest friends or family members, who may not know how to proceed.  They may even give bad advice. Crisis counselors can also advise victims about documenting their experiences and collecting evidence, which may be important in a future case.

3) The victim has control over the events that follow the chat or discussion on the app. If the victim is not ready to file a police report, she can simply call for information about collecting evidence, making an escape plan, etc. Anything that gives the victim a sense of control over her own destiny will help her going forward.

P.S. I tend to use male pronouns for perpetrators and female pronouns for victims, but I know that men can be victims as well. I also know that the vast, vast, vast majority of men are protectors, not perpetrators!