By Alex Sousa
In a year of hotly debated political campaigning, the Orem District 60 race for the Utah House of Representatives is down to two candidates.
With UVU as part of District 60, and with two candidates whose platforms are headlined by issues in education, students living inside and outside district lines stand to be affected by the outcome of the controversial election.
Current representative Bradley Daw was ousted in the Republican primaries in June, leaving the race to continue between Republican Dana Layton and Democrat Emmanuel “Manny” Kepas. With Layton maintaining a more subdued profile following a campaign scandal, Kepas has taken the opportunity to vocalize his opinions.
“In politics, sometimes the politician will say that they tried not to give their viewpoints because any time you give a viewpoint a person may agree or disagree with you,” Kepas said. “So, many politicians will pick three or four issues and they will just share those and hope that you’ll vote for them because you don’t know their position on the other issues.
Kepas’ belief in transparent government and his openness toward sharing his stance on myriad topics have left Layton open for criticism. Even before her reticence, comments from Layton were sparse.
“I’ve taken a different position,” Kepas said. “My position as an underdog is that I will share my opinion on everything that I can, because I think my opinions are very much like most peoples’, so I really share them.”
Upon filing her campaign finance disclosure statement to the lieutenant governor, it was revealed that Layton’s campaign had received donations from The Proper Role of Government Defense Fund, a PAC responsible for a series of attack flyers aimed at Daw, her initial opponent in the GOP primaries. She had previously denied any affiliation with the organization.
Since the scandal in early September, Layton has been unavailable for comment.
In June, Layton gave an interview to Jeri L. Allphin, UVU Director of Alumni Relations, and answered questions specifically about UVU.
“I’ve found that as rare as it seems to be these days, I really want to be a representative of this district,” Layton said. “As I went around during the convention time and talking to delegates, one of the issues that came up repeatedly was funding for UVU. There’s a compelling story here of inequitable funding.”
According to a statement on her website, as part of her platform that pushes education as a priority in Utah, including higher education, Layton has said that she believes UVU should be funded fairly and on par with other Utah institutions of higher education.
Kepas, himself an educator, teaching business classes at Hillcrest High School and coaching their football team, also has a lot to say about education and wants to fight for equitable funding for UVU. With two daughters graduated and having studied himself at UVU, Kepas has a personal interest.
“My stance is that UVU needs to have additional increased funding proportionate to their student population,” Kepas said. “I think there’s a lot more that can be done, there’s a lot more bang for the buck out here for the student.”
He continued, “When UVU tuition costs more than going to BYU, I think there needs to be some type of change, some type of review process to say what’s reasonable and prudent what can we do to maintain student rates and balance growth.”
More information about the candidates and their platforms can be found online at their websites, www.kepas.org and www.danalayton.com.