The Race to Replace Valentine in Senate District 14

The Race to Replace Valentine in Senate District 14
Girl Scouts visit the Senate Chamber in the Utah State Capitol – Feb. 2011. (Wikipedia Commons)

With the midterm elections over, there remains one more election: the selection of a replacement for John Valentine, who resigned earlier this year when he was appointed to the state tax commission by Governor Gary Herbert

 John Mulholland met with all four of the very qualified individuals who filed as candidates. candidates and this write-up is intended to help Republican Party delegates, who will select the name to send to the Governor for appointment, get to know the candidates better. The candidates each present different talents and abilities and will all serve well, just in different ways.

Also, don’t miss the Senate District 14 Debate tonight:

Tuesday – November 11th
6:30 – 9:30 PM
Cedar Ridge Elementary School Gymnasium
4501 West Cedar Hills Drive

Meet the Candidates:  6:30 – 7:30 PM
Debate:  7:30 – 9:00 PM
Mingle:  9:00 – 9:30 PM


Al Jackson

Al JacksonThe first thing that I noticed when talking to Al Jackson is that he is a great listener and is very ready to ask your opinion to gain understanding. He doesn’t feel that he needs to be the smartest person in the room.

Jackson works as a business investor and has done extensive work as a lobbyist and working with various citizen groups, such as the Eagle Forum, and is well-respected. He knows how to work with others to build coalitions and educate. His experience as a lobbyist has helped him learn the political process.

There have been some rumors going around about Jackson’s performance as the finance officer of the county party and not attending meetings. I greatly prefer to hear it from the person himself so I asked Jackson. He told me that he had only reluctantly agreed to help after being asked several times, but had made it very clear what he would do and would not do. He said he made it very clear that he would not be able to attend meetings, but would be able to focus on fundraising and creating access to donors. I should also point out that the person I heard rumor from works for another campaign.

My concern with Jackson is his lack of experience actually writing legislation. There is more to being a legislator than writing legislation, but it is a significant part of the job. Perhaps he should get some experience in the House before the Senate? Is this enough of a reason to not vote for him?


Ken Sumsion

Ken SumsionFormer State Representative Ken Sumsion is an accountant by trade and has the personality for it. The first thing that I noticed with Sumsion is that he is a humble servant. Ken doesn’t mind quietly serving and taking on the tough jobs such as being the head of the redistricting committee. He doesn’t need the spotlight.

Sumsion was my representative when I moved to American Fork and came over when asked. I mentioned that Senator Valentine had not come over and Sumsion actually stood up for him and explained how much bigger the senate district was. Sumsion is very well-respected by his colleagues.

My concern with Sumsion is that he does not have a strong executive presence. It seems that he actually prefers working in the background. This can be both a positive and a negative. Leadership is needed, but there can also be too many cooks in the kitchen.


Keven Stratton

Keven StrattonI didn’t know much about State Representative Keven Stratton before this race, but my son picked up one of his shirts at a convention. He is a fairly new lawmaker, having finished one term in the Utah House and was just elected to his second. I have heard some really good things about him from other legislators such as his work on public lands.

Stratton is a businessman in several areas. One thing that really impressed me about Stratton is that he votes based on a set of principles instead of what a very vocal minority says.  Stratton also just received the endorsement of Senator Valentine saying that he is the most knowledgeable on the federal lands issue.

My concern is that Stratton just won reelection in another race. If he were to win there would be another special election held to fill the empty House seat. It might be better if he were to spend some more time in the House and get some more experience.


Stephen Sandstrom

SandstromFormer State Representative Stephen Sandstrom is a very accomplished person besides his years of service in the Utah House. He is a successful architect and enjoys spending time in the outdoors and has climbed many mountains, including Mt. Everest.

Sandstrom prefers to listen to his constituents and hear ideas from them instead of just coming up with them himself. He is also able to work on a wide variety of legislation as shown by his experience in the House. Something that really impressed me about Sandstrom is ability to change his position on an issue when he learns more.

Some were very bothered that he changed his position on immigration, which I was very happy with. He was also on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I asked Sandstrom about this and he told me that he was just trying to poke fun at himself. I was also told about this appearance by somebody who works for another campaign.

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