Its not a matter of luck in Utah’s 13th House District.
With a head start for the Republican incumbent, the Democrat for the 13th House District is working hard to make a race this November. Located in Utah’s Davis County, the 13th encompasses much of Clinton, Sunset and West Point, and roughly 11,000 potential votes; the prevailing question is how to get them to the polls in a mid-term election?
Bob Buckles, the Democrat on the ballot, says that education funding is his priority, and that message will hook voters. “I have a passion for helping the people of this state,” said Buckles, indicating that making education funding a priority should accomplish that goal.
Adding 30-years of experience in contract administration and logistics for the US Air Force (primarily as a civilian contractor), Buckles also believes that raising the minimum wage is a concept way past due. “Utah defers to federal policies on matters like this,” he said, “and when it comes to hours and benefits amidst globalization and worldwide competition, are we going to have record unemployment in the state because of low-end, customer service call-center jobs or should we aim higher? I believe workers in Utah deserve better.”
Buckle’s resumé also includes a seat on the Clinton City Planning Commission where through 2010, significant growth has been evident. He is presently retired.
Paul Ray, the three-term Republican incumbent in House District 13 who defeated his opponent in the last election by nearly a 70 to 30 margin, has made national headlines recently for remarks endorsing the firing squad as a viable way to accommodate capital punishment in the Beehive State. Recent attempts at lethal injection in Texas and Arizona have re-kindled controversies as witness accounts relate less-than-ideal outcomes.
Since 2010, condemned prisoners in Utah are executed via lethal injection. Utah has successfully used the firing squad for executions as recently as 2010, “It’s probably the most humane way to kill somebody,” said Ray who believes that giving the judge involved in the penalty phase the option to use the firing squad as punishment will allow Utah to carry out capital punishments in the event that lethal injection becomes illegal.
In the last legislative session, Ray has shown his district some success with laws such as HB 384 which clarified procedures involved with athletic head trauma and HB 327 allowing veteran preference in state jobs. To those who would criticize as unnecessary a law that could be just as effective if it were a practice adopted by the leagues or the Utah Medical Association, Ray says, “Compliance is far more effective now due to the threat of lawsuits. A school [or league] that is facing a fine is in a better position than if it were facing a lawsuit about the same matter.”
Ray indicates that he typically doesn’t begin campaigning until Labor Day weekend and that discussions about debates between his opponent are ongoing but not confirmed. On the topic of voter turnout, Ray says, “I believe that gridlock in Washington is a factor in voter apathy. If [the voters] believe that nothing is getting done and their vote doesn’t matter, then our turnout suffers.” Ray believes that vote-by-mail is a viable alternative to the polls, and that it is an option preferred in his district.
On 2014 disclosure forms, Ray cites as “sales” income more than $5,000 from Omnilink Systems, a company that manufactures and sells court-mandated “ankle bracelet” monitoring and related technologies. Buckles states that his campaign is largely self-financed.
One of the larger issues that the state will see decided in 2015 is that of the definition of marriage, a matter currently moving toward a ruling by the US Supreme Court sometime after Utah’s next legislative session. Buckles believes that it is a divisive issue that the voters have softened on and that it doesn’t need to be litigated further. The stalwarts in Ray’s party have backed the effort to send the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. Experts believe that the decision about the state’s rights to define marriage will likely be decided in Washington D.C. next year.
Describing the incumbent whom he is challenging, Buckles says, “He is intelligent and competent, but he’s done very little in the way of school funding and if his party is going to continue to undermine the efforts of Utah workers to better [the workers’] condition, I would describe the result as worse than exploitation. Allowing companies to exploit Utah workers is a long-term fail.”
Commenting on the partisan divide that allows Utah to be one of the reddest states in the nation, Buckles said, “I care very much about issues and policies; I’m neither a hardcore Democrat nor a hardcore Republican. I’m on the ballot to make a difference.”