OGDEN — State Rep. Jeremy Peterson believes his work sponsoring and passing legislation will help him win a second term to represent House District 9. But his opponent, Democrat Neil Hansen, said just because he did not sponsor numerous bills during his 12 years in the Legislature does not mean he was ineffective.
This election is a rematch between the two, with Peterson defeating Hansen in 2010. Hansen, 53, is the owner of Ready Made Water, a home water-storage system. He and his wife, Debby, are the parents of eight children. Peterson, 35, is a real estate broker. He and his wife, Kimberly, have four daughters. “I am the more effective candidate at sponsoring and passing legislation than my opponent,” Peterson said. “The average Democrat during the same time period (Hansen) was in office had between 50 percent to 70 percent of their sponsored legislation passed. (Hansen’s) pass rate was less than 10 percent.”
Hansen said he has lived in Weber County all his life and knows the history and the needs of his constituents. Hansen said Peterson did not grow up in Utah and is unfamiliar with what the needs are. And even though Hansen’s pass rate on legislative bills does not look good on paper, Hansen said he worked effectively behind the scenes for projects that benefited Weber County. Those projects include Falcon Hill, a $1.5 billion public- private development venture of the state, Hill Air Force Base and Woodbury Corporation, George E. Wahlen Veterans Home, a reading initiative program and improvement to roads. “(Peterson’s) argument is very lame,” Hansen said. “That’s not how you measure success. You’re not elected just for the 45 days (of the Legsilative session), but for the 365 days.” “My opponent is touting that I’m a failure,” Hansen said. “To that, I say bull pucky.”
Peterson was born in Idaho and grew up in Montana and Texas. He moved to Utah in 1996 to attend Utah State University. After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Peterson came back to Utah, met his wife and transferred to Weber State University. Peterson has lived in Roy and Ogden since 2000 and says he knows the area and the people.
Hansen said his top priorities, if elected, would be economic development and education for Weber County. “We need to entice job growth to Ogden,” Hansen said. He also said legislators need to re-prioritize funding so more goes to education and less to roads. Hansen said spending $1.2 billion for the Interstate 15 core project in Utah County is wrong while classrooms in the state need more funding. “We’re spending too much on roads,” Hansen said. “That money needs to go into education.”
Peterson said education is “by far the most important issue the state has.” Peterson said a good education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty that many seem to be locked into. “The children are beholden to the decisions their parents are making and they have no choice how they live, but if we can break that cycle they can make better decisions,” Peterson said.
Peterson said he is also concerned with Utah’s alcohol policy. If lawmakers changed how liquor licenses are distributed, it could benefit the economy in Ogden and Weber County. “I think it would allow the businesses that are here to operate more easily,” Peterson said. Peterson is studying the issue to see if liquor law changes would have a negative impact on public safety.
Peterson said he focused during the past two years on bills and appropriations that would help families and businesses. One of those bills helps the state reduce fraudulent unemployment claims. Another one has the Department of Workforce Services analyzing its data to see who is on public assistance in an effort to reduce inter-generational poverty, Peterson said. Peterson said because of his assignment on an appropriations subcommittee he was able to help St. Anne’s Center in Ogden receive $500,000 from lawmakers to get started building the Lantern House, a new facility for the homeless. House District 9 boundaries have expanded west to include West Haven, a portion of north Roy and the core of Ogden.