Monday, November 1, 2010

Making phone calls for Mark Peterson

I've spent some time over the past few days making phone calls for Mark Peterson, a friend who is running for Utah State House of Representatives, District 62.

Of the 100 or so names I've worked with so far, 28 don't have phone numbers listed, 25 are listed with numbers that are no longer working, a few who answered no longer live in the district, one hung up on me, and about 15 didn't pick up (I left messages when I could). That means I probably talked with about 30 directly, and I appear to have persuaded a few. I was surprised at how many actually wanted to listen to my brief case for why they should vote for Mark Peterson.

The time to vote approaches--tomorrow, November 2, 2010. Is there any chance Mark will win? I suppose so. But whether or not he wins, he is, in my opinion, clearly the better qualified of the candidates--a good two or three or four times better than his opponent.

Here's why I think so. (This is a copy of what I sent to family and friends living in District 62.)

Mark Peterson is an excellent candidate, smart, mature, and experienced. I’ve known him for many years as a colleague at BYU, where he teaches Korean, and am confident he will make a great state legislator. Besides his many years of experience as an educator, he also has experience in economic development, having helped set up an office in Korea to facilitate Korean investment in Utah and Utah exports to Korea.

Mark has sensible, pragmatic, moderate positions on various issues, including education, economic development, immigration, and air pollution. To help improve air quality in Utah and Salt Lake valleys (which have some of the worst air pollution in the country), Mark proposes specific ways of limiting range fires, among other things. He proposes humane and compassionate immigration reform, including going after exploitive employers, refining NAFTA so as to improve economic conditions in Mexico, and finding ways to help undocumented residents come out of the shadows without destroying their families. His main focus will be on education—an area of deep concern, since the scores of Utah students have been declining in recent years despite all the money Utah spends on education. Mark will seek to make education the legislature’s top priority so that the required time and effort can be put into finding a solution to Utah’s complex education problems. Improving education is the best thing we can do for economic development.

One reason I support Mark is that his opponent—Chris Herrod—is, in my opinion, one of the least capable legislators in recent memory. Herrod has taken extreme positions and supported off-the-wall bills. For instance, he has proposed doing away with the booster seat requirement for small children. There’s no question that booster seats improve safety for small children; I believe the requirement should stay. Herrod has also proposed spending $3 million for Utah to sue the federal government, in ways that legal experts say would have no standing and probably wouldn’t even get off the ground.

Herrod’s main qualification, for many, is that he is running as a Republican. But the past few years have made it clear that the extreme domination of Republicans in Utah state government has been bad for the state and bad for the Republican Party, as the party has run weak candidates who have not had to face real election challenges and as it has come to be dominated by its more extreme elements. Among the signs that more balance is needed is that wacky bills are regularly proposed and taken seriously—for instance, a bill proposing doing away with 12th grade, something that simply by being proposed brought Utah negative publicity (with economic consequences) that undid much of what our economic development efforts have tried to accomplish.

Mark Peterson is supported by both Democrats and Republicans, including Karl Snow, a Republican and former Utah Senate Majority leader. Among others who support him are Susan Easton Black, Reese and Kathryn Hansen, Richard L. and Carma de Jong Anderson, Ned Hill, Thomas Alexander, Scott and Chris Cameron, Randy and Janet Jones, Jim Toronto, and of course many, many others.

Mark will help restore sanity to the Utah legislature. He will be a voice of reason and moderation.

For more details on his positions, go to

And be sure to vote on Tuesday.

Best wishes,
Bruce Young

P.S.: This is a P.S. to the blog post, not something I put in the e-mail I sent to friends and family. Though I live in District 62, all the people on my phone list live in a different part of the district, away from my neighborhood. Because of my local church responsibilities, I feel I need to avoid getting associated with political labels. So I have no bumper stickers or yard signs and have held no neighborhood meetings with candidates. Nor have I knocked on doors or made phone calls in my neighborhood (for political purposes).

One of my neighbors asked me who I'd recommend voting for--but asked me while we were in the church building. I told him I'd feel more comfortable talking to him in another location and at another time--and maybe (it occurs to me now) after I took off my white shirt and tie. Maybe I'm going overboard, but I really do feel I need to separate the roles very clearly. Still, I feel torn at times--I'd love to tell everybody what I think about ballot issues. But there are far more important things I need to do as well. And I need to not get the two confused, or weaken the more important things by focusing too much on the less important ones.

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