“It is better to be despised and have liberty, than to be loved and subservient to the government.” — Jacqueline Smith
On April 22, 2010, a group of state delegates for District 53 had an opportunity to put questions together that would be asked to each candidate.
Jon Hellander was first and the moderator, Tom Burton, from Campaign for Liberty, drew the questions.
Each candidate brings a very different style to their answers. Mel Brown, being the incumbent, is a polished politician, who is knee-deep in the issues and brings a much richer background to his campaign. He is a parliamentarian, and when you know the rules, you control the game. He talked about the things he has done while in office, and spoke of his commitment to the area especially the fight against equalization for education. Jon Hellander on the other hand, comes to this
campaign without the experience in legislation, but with many years experience in business, with 22 of those years being here in Summit County. He stands firmly on principles. He is not a polished spokesman, like so many politicians, and comes across as someone with common sense wanting to change the nature of the political system. Jon’s statements were always put forward inside his principal belief on the issues, not on specific bills like Mel’s answers. It is currently Mel’s job to know and follow each bill, and Jon is looking at things from a principled perspective. Mel has a voting record, and Jon has his word. It will be up to the voters to decide who they believe will best represent them based on their answers, and their record. http://www.UtahGrassRoots.org
Most of the questions had similar answers, as is expected in an inter-party race; abortion, illegal immigration, defense of marriage amendment, etc. This article will be focusing on the places where answers were different, as that is what the voters need to look at in order to make a good decision.
Here are some of the questions asked and their responses – paraphrased.
Do you support taxpayer dollars being used to support out of classroom activities for union lobbyists?
Jon’s response was that he is against any taxpayer money paying for activities involving union workers, but especially taxpayer money earmarked for our children’s education. Mel’s response was that he is also against it. However, when the bill was put forward to end this practice of waste with our taxpayer money, Mel Brown voted against this bill. (SB77) His reasoning was that it should be local decision. While I agree that decisions involving curriculum, etc should be at the local level, it is my understanding funds are allocated at the state level.
Do you believe that a sales tax increase for all that is offset by tax break for a few is redistribution of wealth? And will you vote to raise taxes if elected?
Jon’s response was, to tax all and give breaks to a few is “socialism.” He went on to say that taxes do not need to be raised, but cuts need to be made and better management of our money needs to be in place to ensure we are using our taxes wisely. Jon promised to vote NO for any tax increases, regardless of what they were called. Mel’s response , “All taxes are too high.” That sounds great, because he’s right; however, he went back to 1998 to talk about how a newspaper article touted him as “Conan the tax-slasher.” 1998? Really? What does his record show now? The last 3 out of 4 years Mel Brown has voted to raise taxes, including the increased sales tax that was “justified” by a tax reduction to a few. He never actually answered the first question about the tax he actually voted yes on. He did say he would not raise taxes. Check his record.
What are your thoughts on property rights?
Each candidate answered this question identically saying they believed property rights are vital. However, when a smoking bill went through the legislature this year, Mel Brown voted that even in your personal property (your vehicle) if a child is present you don’t have the right to smoke. While this may seem well-intentioned to most of us that know second-hand smoke can be dangerous, it is a direct infringement on rights. Property rights, parental rights and personal responsibility cannot be lost on well-intended legislation. (HB82)
Mel Brown also voted to pass legislation allowing the power companies to curb your electrical consumption. This goes against property rights as well. Thankfully, our Governor vetoed this bill. (SB47)
What are your thoughts on vouchers?
Jon and Mel also agreed on this in word. They want vouchers, they want school choice. Again, the voting record on Mel differs from his answers. We have no way to determine Jon’s answers because he has no record to run on, but since Jon has used both public and homeschooling methods, parental choice is a big issue to him. Either you will trust him, or you won’t. Mel voted against the voucher bill put forward claiming it was in direct conflict with our state constitution, and it left out homeschoolers. (Homeschoolers do not want government money period.) Here is what the Utah Constitution says in Article 10 Section 9:
“Neither the state of Utah nor its political subdivisions may make any appropriation for the direct support of any school or educational institution controlled by any religious organization.”
This argument did not hold water for me, as the state funds would not be given to a school directly. Vouchers are not a direct support of any school. If the state were making the decision of where to send money, that would be direct support. A voucher is given to a parent, and the parent is deciding where the money is spent. The money then follows the student where a parent decides is best for their child. This is not a direct support of any school. Sources on “the hill” say that Mel was against the voucher bill from the very beginning. And to take it a step further, you could argue the other direction that the public system has become an atheistic institution, which is it’s own religion, or to put it bluntly it’s a religious organization of secular humanism.
Nevertheless, let’s say he’s a strict Constitutionalist. While he may argue using the Utah State Constitution for one bill, it appears he didn’t even look at the U.S. Constitution for his vote on another bill. (HB150) This bill is in direct violation of our 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Mel voted yes on that bill. This bill would allow internet service providers to turn over service information without a warrant.
How do you feel about sunsets in legislation?
Jon was adamant that the way it is currently handled is a bad practice. He feels that to re-authorize programs in our government, each should be looked at individually, and not lumped together into one bill and reauthorized at the same time. (HB221). Mel finds this practice suitable and believes that the committees that recommend the bills reauthorization have already done their homework.
What are your thoughts on water?
This question on water began a pretty heated argument from a person in the crowd with Mel. Both candidates recognized that water is very important. On the one hand, Mel claims the state owns all the water, and on the other, said that the state doesn’t sell any water. The person in the audience said, if you pay a fee of any kind in order to get water, you are paying the state for water, and actually run others wells dry. Mel doesn’t see a fee to the state as a payment for water. Not sure on this specific issue, but I do understand that water is our life blood here in the desert and it is a commodity that must be used wisely. Jon also understands that ranchers and farmers, those that feed the rest of us, hold water rights as vital to their survival.
What are your thoughts on privatizing more of the government jobs?
Jon and Mel both recognize that some things government must do, but that there are many programs that could be done better, with less waste in the private sector. Mel spoke of a Privatization Policy Board that he implemented years ago, that needs citizen involvement to get rolling. This sounds like a great idea, and something that I want to look into. Any time we can move jobs into the private sector, everyone wins. Government wins because there is a profit motive, and profits mean tax base. The people win because they are given jobs where they must perform, and there is no drain on the tax system. What are your thoughts on legislation with your name on it?
This was one question that Jon had the opportunity to answer that Mel never did, because Mel’s answers went on much longer. That question was about legislation put forth in order to appear as if you are getting something done. Jon does not believe in this position. He feels that legislation for the sake of legislation is just bigger government with more intrusion. Our founding fathers would argue that the point of congress was to create laws in the hopes that they would have so much disagreement that very little would be passed. Jon does not have a specific agenda going into the legislature, other than ensuring we limit the size of government, expand personal liberty and responsibility, and defend our 10th Amendment rights (state rights).
Will you revisit the raw milk bill and correct the regulations to ensure a free-market system and allow individuals to have the liberty to legally share their milk through cow sharing again?
This question did not get asked, and that was unfortunate for the voters of this district. I am all for buying raw milk, and there was a bill that passed with the help of Mel Brown that made the sale of raw milk in Utah legal with some big restrictions. However, this bill also eliminated cow sharing. Mel is on record as saying, “I don’t usually vote for raw milk, but I’m voting for this bill because the restrictions are so strict it will make it impossible for any new raw milk dairies to open.” This statement disturbs me because it seems to go directly against free market principles and because his family is in the dairy business eliminates any competition in the form of raw milk. It also created a bit of a monopoly within the state of Utah for the people who pushed the legislation through. A well-intended bill that gives one thing while taking away so many others. It hurts the free-market, and individual liberty by making it difficult for rural families and small farms to enjoy the benefits of raw milk in their communities without driving a great distance to get their supply. It would be nice to know what both of these men think about this.
UtahGrassroots.org puts Mel Brown (since he has a voting record) with an overall score of 49% for his career in the legislature, with a 64% for this year. (All our legislators received higher scores this year with individual liberty and states rights being the forefront of this session.) Some legislators received 100% and some 95% on their voting record. Mel is not in the top 25 of the conservatives in our state, but he is also not in the bottom 25, where most Democrats fall. This would indicate he is more of a liberal Republican. We have no way of scoring Jon, since he has no voting record yet.
At the end of the evening, everyone enjoyed chatting together. It is the goal of The STAR Forum to bring people to awareness of the principles, the issues and the process. We are looking for solid candidates that exemplify the standards set forth by our founding fathers. Many people are speaking constitutionally right now, because it has become popular to be a conservative. Each candidate must be vetted, and their record looked at carefully to ensure you are choosing a candidate that truly will stand and help Save The American Republic.