In a state where Republicans have a virtual stranglehold on public office, you'd expect that the GOP would be arrogant and dismissive of the voting public. Like, what other choice do you have? But this year's Voters Guide, processed by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Utah, shows that this condescending attitude knows no political bounds. The league contacted all 209 candidates for state and federal offices. Not one of the federal incumbents saw fit to respond, although both Mia Love and Doug Owens did. Nothing from Sean Reyes, either. Democrats shunned the League, too. All told, only 81 candidates—38.8 percent—responded to their potential constituents. And there were only three questions. "In an election year in which government transparency continues to be in the news, we think Utah voters deserve better," League Co-President Jenn Gonnelly said.
Vote for School Board
Everyone but the governor and the legislature felt that the process for selecting state school board members was weird—a committee referred at least three candidates to the governor, who then chose the two finalists—and wrong. Now a federal judge has made that perfectly clear. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that the convoluted process violates the Constitution's free-speech guarantees. Waddoups still has to come up with a remedy, given that elections are in November, but the ruling heartens many—even incumbents. You should be able to choose a school board member all by yourself, and the political filtering of candidates eliminated that choice—that right—for voters.
Cops & Soldiers
Utah's no Missouri, but apparently the state would welcome Ferguson's armed police. A poll conducted for UtahPolicy.com by Dan Jones & Associates showed that 56 percent of respondents supported police departments using military-style equipment. This is a bit of a disconnect in a conservative state where fear of an armed government takeover is part of the Second Amendment rant. At least Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank sees an important distinction: the military is supposed to defend, while the police are to protect. That was not the case in Alabama in the '60s when armed police went after civil-rights demonstrators. Police need to be part of the community—working within it, not against it.