Representative Justin Fawson is the Republican incumbent in House District 7 (North Ogden, Pleasant View). Fawson took over for former Republican Representative Ryan Wilcox, who stepped away from the post after the 2014 legislative session. Fawson will face off against Dan Deuel in the June Republican Primary. The Democrat in the race is Camille Neider and the Libertarian in the running is Roger Condie.
Jump to questions:
Tell us more about you.
Why are you running for office?
What were you most proud of while serving on the North Ogden City Council?
When is state and federal insertion appropriate?
Where has the State of Utah gone too far?
One of your issues is upholding the Constitution. What does that mean in your mind?
As a legislator, how would you push back against the federal government?
What would you like to add?
Utah Political Capitol: Who are you and why are you running for office?
Justin Fawson: I spent the last 35 years in North Ogden, I was raised in North Ogden and I have served in my community for a long time. The area is a great place to raise a family, and that is why we are still here.
I am a boy scout, served an LDS mission in Italy and married my wife a few months later. In 1996 I signed up with the Utah National Guard as an Arabic linguist. For the past ten years I have worked for a company called MarketStar as a Marketing Director. This job has given me the opportunity to work with several Fortune 100 companies locally and in Silicon Valley.
I enjoy working with the Ogden Rotary Club and have served on the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce Board.
About nine years ago I became interested in the charter school movement and became a founding board member for the Venture Academy, a local Charter School, and I feel that this gives me a unique perspective when it comes to education. Currently, Two of my children attend a charter school while two others attend traditional public schools. I served on that board until I was elected to the North Ogden City Council, which took place about two and a half years ago.
UPC: And why did you run?
JF: I became involved in local politics when I felt that we were not being responsible in our local spending – specifically a public works facility for a bond that was up to $10 million. There was a large group of residents who felt that was overboard and irresponsible spending – so I authored a petition and, after some legal issues, we were able to place a new version on the ballot that was successful.
[pullquote]I don’t like the word “politician.” I much prefer the term “public servant,”[/pullquote]I don’t like the word “politician.” I much prefer the term “public servant,” and I feel that there really isn’t a reason for me not to run – I have been given a lot in my life, and my community has given me much in helping me find success – and I really feel that I can serve those in my community.
I had no intention to run for state office, the real catalyst was Ryan Wilcox and having conversations with him and his desire to find a good replacement. I am doing this because I feel there really is a possibility for doing greater good.
UPC: What are you most proud of during your time on the North Ogden City Council, what did you learn while on the council, and what skills do hope to bring to the state capitol?
JF: I am most proud of being able to work together with the other council members to get things done and work in the best interest of the citizens of the city.
One issue I was concerned about was run-away spending. I am a very fiscally conservative guy and I felt that the city’s budget should be the way that we personally budget – we should save for the big projects we need instead of taking out enormous bonds that the citizens would be paying for. I do feel that, sometimes, there are necessities that warrant bonding, but I also think that proper planning can successfully fund long term projects.
In regards to privatization, you know, I am a business guy, and I have really been committed to improvements in operations. I feel that we should not just look at how government is run compared to other governments, but also how government is run compared to the private sector.
I am always willing to look at privatizing government programs because you can typically find better performance in the private sector because they are more efficient, more innovative, more driven, and there is more competition. It is for that reason I looked at privatizing things in North Ogden.
For me, as a business person, it is critical that we need to advance economic development, and if we have programs that are prohibitive, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. In our community, we have a commercial core that needs encouragement and recruitment.
UPC: One issue you say that you are concerned about is “small government.” Where do you feel that it is appropriate for the state and federal government to be involved, and where, as a state representative, do you feel the state is over-reaching?
[pullquote]when I say “small government” I mean “small and proper” government.[/pullquote]
JF: So, when I say “small government” I mean “small and proper” government. There are reasons our founding fathers created a federal government, but the Constitution is designed to protect us from over-reach, and I feel we have gone far beyond that as far as our federal government is concerned and, in some cases our state has allowed government to move into individual and private sector areas.
Specifically I feel our security and safety – our military and police, our protection is first and foremost. But when that protection oversteps its bounds because our privacy is being invaded, the government has gone too far.
UPC: And on the state level, do you feel the state has gone too far? And if so, where?
JF: I think in some cases the state has allowed the federal government to have over-reach. Education would be a good example of that. The bottom line for me is that there are times where we are taking back our own tax money from the federal government with strings attached.
In some cases we have accepted that money back because otherwise we would not get it back. Do I agree with the federal programs we have agreed to? In a lot of cases no. Would we have gotten our own tax dollars back had we not accepted a federal program? Probably not and some of our residents would have suffered the consequences of that.
I wish I could give you specific examples of state run organizations that should belong in the private sector – I can’t.
UPC: You say that one of your goals is to uphold the Constitution. Do you feel it is in danger of not being upheld, do you feel it isn’t being upheld? What does that phrase mean to you?
[pullquote]The issue of federal lands is the most pressing. It is a state’s land issue, not a federal government land issue.[/pullquote]
JF: I will swear an oath to our state and federal Constitution, as a legislator, and I feel that our Constitution is in danger. There are things we have done that have allowed us to give up personal rights and state rights and, in some cases, I feel that we all have been complacent about the loss of protections the Constitution provides us.
We have said it is best to maintain the status quo and accept government programs rather than lead.
UPC: So, in what specific issues do you feel the Constitution is not being upheld? What is the most pressing?
JF: I think the issue of federal lands is the most pressing. It is a state’s land issue, not a federal government land issue. I think the states have done a better job of pushing back and about working with other states to protect our own lands.
I feel that, because Utah is an economically well run state, we should take the lead in pushing back against the federal government.
UPC: So, as a state legislator, what would you do to stand up to federal intrusion?
JF: I feel we work best when we work with other states. I think we have done a lot to protect our own residents, but, in my mind, it needs to go beyond that to create a coalition of states to stand up together to fight for our rights.
I feel we are doing a better job of that to combat federal overreach, but we need legislators to work together to get things done. At times we have to draw definitive lines, but the vast majority of the time we need to sit down and be educated on the issues in order to have open discussion and be willing to change our position.
My endorsements speak to that, I have the endorsement of the Mayor of North Ogden, for example, whose campaign I did not support, because I am willing to work with people to get things done.
The same is true for working through other issues. It is important that policymakers educate the public and hear them in order to make residents aware of the reasons why the government is doing what it is doing. The residents may not like what happens, but at least they understand why something takes place.
Ultimately, I think decisions should be made on as local a level as possible.
UPC: Anything you would like to add?
JF: I just want you to know that I am excited to serve and that I am not afraid to be the lone dissenting voice when it is the right thing. That being said, I am eager to work with other legislators to build a state that we can hand down to our children and that the state we create is something they can be proud of.
**Utah Political Capitol does not endorse any candidate or party. The views expressed by candidates are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of UPC.**