The Candidates to Replace Senator Dan Hemmert in Senate District 14

by John Mulholland

With State Senator Dan Hemmert stepping down to take a position with the incoming Cox administration, there is a special election in which county delegates will select somebody to fill the vacancy. Here are six candidates who are all vying to win votes.

Staci Carroll

Staci Carroll currently serves on the city council of American Fork and works for the BYU Marriott School of Business over diversity and inclusion. She talked about how American Fork drastically cut budgets at the beginning of the year due to covid. As the year went on they were able to restore that funding and tax revenues actually ended up being higher than last year.

Staci is no stranger to politics. Her dad held the senate seat and when she was young, she would go up to the capitol with him. She was taught by example about serving the community.

Staci feels that the state doesn’t understand local cities and her experience serving on the city council will be a huge benefit. She also believes that her understanding of the state tax structure will be a big benefit to the state. But she doesn’t want to focus on just one issue. Many issues are important and she loves to hear ideas from citizens that she will represent.

Covid is a hard issue. She didn’t feel that the mandate was a good idea as enough businesses were already requiring masks. Staci is OK with the state giving recommendations but then letting residents decide what to do.

Regarding Attorney General Reyes signing Utah onto the Texas lawsuit to sue other states over the election, Staci said that it was absolutely not appropriate. We shouldn’t be suing other states. There is already a process and this was a waste of taxpayer money.

Jeanette Bennett

Jeanette just celebrated her 20th anniversary for Utah Valley Magazine. She also publishes BusinessQ and Utah Valley Bride, along with custom publishing for groups like Parade of Homes. This business was built without loans or investors.

Jeanette has served in many capacities including being on the board of Silicon Slopes, United Way, the UVU Foundation board, Chamber of Commerce, and the Alpine School District Foundation board. She also worked on the Cox / Henderson campaign for governor. She has been endorsed by Lt Governor-elect Henderson and Abby Cox, wife of Governor-elect Cox.

Jeanette isn’t afraid to admit that she doesn’t know something but loves to learn and research ideas. She knows the leaders of various industries and who to talk to about specific issues.

With regards to Covid, she said that it is hard to balance. Protesting at people’s homes is completely unacceptable though. The state should encourage and educate but not mandate.  Perhaps they should also focus on ways to be healthy, instead of just how to avoid spreading the disease. The change in the mask policy was very confusing for a lot of people.

John St Clair

John is a transplant from Missouri and works as a project manager for Ivanti in South Jordan. He is no stranger to politics and has served as a Republican Committeeman, City Councilman, and Mayor.

He said he brings ideas from other states and a fresh perspective.  When talking about funding education he mentioned how Kansas allows school districts to have a local option, via the property tax, to provide additional funding to the school district.

John is very concerned about how Covid has hurt so many businesses because of restrictions. He wonders how far executive powers can and should go. Restrictions can be very subjective. 

John loves living in Utah and appreciates the outdoors. He has been to most of the national parks, loves hiking Bridal Veil Falls and going up American Fork Canyon. He even hiked Mt. Timpanogos last summer.

Dr. Mike Kennedy

Dr. Mike Kennedy served as a state representative from 2013-2018. Then he didn’t run for reelection but ran for Senate against Mitt Romney. Mike said he likes to lead by example and enjoyed taking his family around the state to meet with people. He isn’t afraid to step in and help. He even grabbed a broom and started sweeping after that state convention.

Mike is very proud of the legislation he passed which enabled the construction of the East-West corridor. This was the culmination of work his predecessor, Rep. John Dougall, spent time on.

He has pushed for limited government and more local control and doesn’t feel that mask mandates help. Dr. Kennedy said though that he doesn’t want to criticize public officials that are doing their best. He did question why we would emulate what China told us about their response. We also need to be careful before we implement our own solutions. He did note that there has been a decrease in preventative care such as mammograms and colonoscopies during the pandemic. Covid will probably be with us to some degree for quite a long time.

He had a similar response when asked about Attorney General Reyes signing onto the lawsuit with Texas. He did add though that we need to focus on winning the Senate seats in Georgia. It probably wasn’t a good idea but Reyes probably has information that we don’t. Mike wants to make clear that he supports what President Trump has accomplished as far as policy and that we need to ensure the integrity of our election process.

Dr. Kennedy thinks it is essential to listen to constituents to be able to serve effectively in the legislature. We can agree to disagree on some things and still move forward together.

Jon Anderson

Jon has worked in commercial real estate for 40 years. He has owned his own business for over 20, selling his half to his partner 9 years ago and then starting a new company just like it. Jon also served as adjunct faculty for BYU. He has been involved in the Cox, Herbert, and Curtis campaigns as well.

Jon has a passion for politics and also enjoys tennis, recently going to nationals for his age division. He also plays the guitar and sings.

Jon feels his values line up well with the district. He talked about how pioneers went and settled in various areas, taking on great risk. We overreacted nationally to COVID. Our personal freedoms are very important, and we need to be willing to take on more risk and be about our business and not just worry about deaths. We haven’t shown courage and it isn’t hard to wear a mask. But after being in a head-on collision, he is a firm believer in mandatory seat belts.

When asked about Utah’s reaction, he said the governor is only supposed to have 30 days for an emergency and shouldn’t redeclare them.  Jon also said that he doesn’t want to second guess leaders and didn’t know if Governor Herbert was correct in telling people not to gather for Thanksgiving.

Regarding Attorney General Reyes, Jon wasn’t sure if the election was stolen and was glad to have Utah join Texas in suing swing states that Biden won. This lawsuit was later thrown out by the Supreme Court. Jon claimed that votes weren’t verified and Biden only won because Covid caused people to vote by mail. He claimed changes were made illegally by state legislatures but said he was concerned about all the swing states, not just the ones Biden won.

Jon said that this is his first time running for office but knows the issues and has a desire to serve.

David Shallenberger

David has degrees in both engineering and law. And has worked for various companies, including a utility company, and focused on energy efficiency. He currently works as legal counsel to Synergy Companies and is a co-owner of CoalaTree where he lists his title as Assistant to the Manager.

David said he is a lifelong conservative who advocates for more personal freedom and liberty. but open-minded to the decisions of others. David previously ran against Keven Stratton, losing by less than 50 votes in the primary.

When asked about Covid, David admitted he was flippant at first but now takes it more seriously. He believes that mask mandates don’t work and wants to understand the different sides of the debate.

David believes the recent Texas lawsuit that Utah Attorney General Reyes joined was more a political point rather than actually trying to affect the outcome. He thinks that while there was potential for fraud, it wasn’t widespread and we have a system to deal with it. He would like to be able to verify every vote though.

David loves to listen to people and hopes to continue that, if elected, by proactively reaching out to people every week. He has found staying in touch with people at the ground level is critical. He realizes that people are being pulled apart and wants to be a force to bring people together.

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