Brent Zimmerman is the Libertarian candidate challenging Republican Senator Stewart Adams and Democrat Kip Sayre in Senate District 22. The three candidates are running to represent the areas of Kaysville, Fruit Heights, Farmington, and portions of Centerville and Layton in Davis County.
Jump To Questions:
Who are you and why are you running?
What are your goals as a third party candidate?
Why do you feel so strongly about local controls in our education system?
What are your feelings on drug policy in the state and nation?
Why do you feel you are a better alternative to your opponents?
What other policies do you disagree with?
Do you feel air pollution laws are a proper function of government?
What other issues are important to you?
Utah Political Capitol: Who are you, where are you from, and why are you running?
Brent Zimmerman: I am a Utah native who grew up in Orem and have lived in Layton for the past 14 years. I am married with three kids and am currently a software engineer.
As far as politics is concerned, I began learning about issues a few years ago but did not have a particular political affiliation. What I did start to find while I was doing my research was just how rare liberty actually is, and soon I became very involved in the Libertarian movement and the Libertarian party, which I feel most closely aligns with my views.
I have run for office before as a Libertarian, and this is my second run for state senate.
UPC: Running as a third party candidate is not the easiest task in Utah, considering the Republican dominance in this state. What are your goals as a third party candidate for victory?
BZ: My number one goal is to create a reality check for the politicians and voters of Utah. What we think the government is doing and what they are not actually doing don’t actually align. Unfortunately, the views between the Republican and Democratic party are not different enough to provide voters with a legitimate alternative.
In education, I see in the news that people rally because they want changes, but it makes me wonder why we allow school decisions to be made at the capitol. If education were at a more local level, you could just get on the phone and call someone… furthermore, if it were more local they might even come to you.
UPC: You do talk about education reform quite a bit on your website, talking about vouchers and tax incentives. Is local control the reason for that feeling, or are there other reasons you feel that is the right route for education?
BZ: With vouchers you have parental control built in – you don’t have to vote for a representative who will pass a law, instead you can vote with your dollars. If schools aren’t good, parents will take their dollars elsewhere and schools will have to ask what they are not doing to succeed.
UPC: So, under that system, would there still be public education in your mind, or would it be public dollars going to a private organization?
BZ: The first step is to separate public funding from public administration of education or, at the very least, give people the option to ask if they want a government system or if they want a private system.
Also, we currently have a system where everyone funds education regardless of income, and it is welfare for the rich. I don’t know why we should pay for the education of people who can afford it. I can afford a private school, but why would I choose it if I have a public school that educates my children for free?
If you are not in financial need, a child should not be placed in the system. It is basically creating welfare for everyone.
UPC: You call the war on drugs “an embarrassment” while acknowledging that drug use and abuse is a problem that needs to be address. Expand on why you don’t agree with drug policy and what you would like the state to do – keeping in mind federal drug policy?
BZ: Though it is something I have listed on my website, it is not something I usually talk about much, because people tend not to know how it affects them. Yes, people know about the problems related to drugs, but most people I interact with don’t know about the problems drug incarceration has on a person’s life long term.
Now, as you pointed out, most drug policy takes place on a national level, but there are things we can do locally.
First, we should do what works and get rid of what doesn’t work. For example, several states have dropped the D.A.R.E. program because it doesn’t work.
I would also like to alter minimum sentencing rules because it doesn’t really address the problem of drug use and abuse. It doesn’t keep drugs out of our schools or prisons. Now, I am not saying we should just throw up our hands and do nothing, but I think we are setting unrealistic expectations.
UPC: Why do you feel that you are a better alternative to Senator Stewart Adams for the voters in Senate District 22?
BZ: Well, the reason for my campaign is one of education. I want to educate voters on the issues of where reality matches key thinking. I know that is a bit of a vague answer but that really is the main focus of my campaign. I mean, if I do get that one-in-a-million victory, I will work to continue to educate.
UPC: So, where else, beside education and the one party state that you have mentioned before, where else do you feel that Utah policy doesn’t match up with reality?
BZ: I think one other issue is that we have fundamental rights that are not being respected in regards to things such as property rights.
If you think about it, the government claims ownership of the waterways, the schools, the airwaves, they micromanage industry with the tax rate. Perhaps not so much on the local level, but the average household pays 40 percent in income tax.
Now, if you are okay with that, with government controlling those things, that’s fine, but don’t call it a free country. Now, I am not saying this isn’t a free country, but compare that to a lot of other countries where the government is more hands off.
UPC: On the issue of government control, one of the issues that had a lot of discussion during the last legislative session was focused around air quality, and we saw lots of bills that restricted industry or altered the free market. Do you feel that this is appropriate, or was it too much?
BZ: There is some role for government regulation. Now, as a Libertarian, I don’t think the EPA should regulate light bulbs or toilet bowl size, but things like air pollution are different. You are well within your rights to say that if someone is polluting the air you breathe, it violates your rights and the government can step in.
I see the problem as government overreaching on regulations that go beyond specific acts of harm.
UPC: So, you would prefer a societal shift rather than government mandates?
BZ: Yes, I would prefer that the government would say things like “you are polluting the air, you need to pay for it” rather than “people can’t drive at certain times if they are a certain age, down the line.” I would prefer things be litigated when harm is shown rather than creating government mandates when the connection isn’t clear.
UPC: So, aside from what we have discussed, what other issues do you wish to educate the public on?
BZ: You know, I have a lot of smaller issues, but I would like to say that I am happy to see that the environment on home schooling, alternative schooling, and charter schooling is starting to improve in the state. I feel that people are seeing that solutions need to come from the local level.
**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.**