At a household in Provo, the organization BYU Students for Barrack Obama convened to listen to guest speaker Bennion Spencer, who is the democratic candidate for Utah’s 3rd congressional district. His challenger is Jason Chaffetz, the republican candidate who took the GOP nomination from incumbent Chris Cannon.
Despite being weary from long hours of campaign work, Spencer discussed important issues voters face this season. Most of all, Spencer stressed the importance of putting partisan politics aside to resolve real problems Utahans are dealing with and to view them as American issues. The issue at the top of the list? Gas prices, of course.
“The number one question I get when I talk to people is ‘What can you do about gas prices?’ That is the change people are looking for, and I tell them we can bring the price down on gasoline and lower our energy dependence,” said Spencer.
As those attending munched on cookies, Spencer pointed out that we should stop futile corn ethanol production and follow the example of Brazil, which utilizes sugar cane based ethanol. Brazil plans on being energy independent within two years. Additionally, Spencer criticized the Bush administration for not pushing alternative energy resources such as wind power and especially solar power, which could potentially lower our dependence on oil.
Still, many wonder if Spencer’s campaign has a chance, given the strong republican support in the 3rd district. Bennion and his campaign assert, however, that being elected is within reach.
“This is basically a swordfight we are dealing with here. There are no millionaires pushing either candidate further ahead of another. This race will come down to hitting the pavement and having the best field organization,” said Shawn Colvin, who is on Spencer’s campaign staff.
Along with taking questions from attendees, Spencer touched on a serious human rights issue: that of classifying violence against gays as hate crimes. “I am a religious man, and I believe we are all children of our creator and should all be treated justly,” said Spencer.
The low voter turnout rate in Utah is a concern for all running candidates, but Spencer is hopeful to draw out enough votes thanks to the many Utahans he feels are hungry for change. “My biggest concern is that voters will get discouraged and simply not vote. We really need to energize voters and let them know that hope is on the way, that things will get better,” Spencer said.
The biggest advantage Spencer has over Chaffetz? “I’m the only candidate in this election that can vote for myself,” Spencer said. His opponent, Chaffetz, lives in Alpine, which is in the 2nd congressional district.
True to his message of transcending partisanship, Spencer ended the night with an insightful thought regarding anyone who is elected to public office.
“Anybody that serves public office with the right spirit is willing to put themselves on the line for something they believe in,” said Spencer.