Former Weber State President Ann Millner is on the campaign trail as the last week of the 2014 midterm elections wraps up.
Millner, who served as Weber State University’s president for 10 years, now has her sights set on the District 18 State Senate seat to fill the vacancy made by the retiring Stuart Reid.
Millner received the Republican party nomination earlier this year.
“I would have never run against Stuart Reid,” Millner said. With the seat open, Millner said she saw an opportunity to continue her years of public service.
Millner said while at Weber State she became familiar with the players in the state and the processes of the Utah Legislature, something she says she can use to her advantage if elected. Millner served as president as WSU for 10 years, part of her 33-year career at WSU.
DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts school teacher Mat Wenzel is Millner’s Democratic challenger. Wenzel says education has been a big part of his life, as he currently serves on the board of Utah Council of Teachers of English.
“I think my life experience allows me to relate to wide variety of people, and my work in education has prepared me to be a leader as well,” Wenzel said in an e-mail.
Millner says the biggest issue facing her constituents is people want to know that there’s going be jobs and opportunities to raise families and live prosperously in Utah.
Wenzel said health care is the biggest issue facing Utah voters. He added it affects people from every walk of life and the state Legislature has yet to decide what to do with this issue.
Wenzel supports expanding Medicaid to allow more people to qualify for care.
Millner said she does care about making sure the most vulnerable people in our society have access to the care that they need, but she hasn’t seen any of the proposed bills on the issue and it’s too early to take a position on specific plans such as Gov. Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan.
Another issue sure to come up in the upcoming Legislature session will be same-sex marriage. When same-sex marriage was legalized in Utah, it opened some legal questions that may have to be answered by the state Legislature.
Millner said she heard about some of the bills but hasn’t seen any yet. She added she would take them on a case by case basis.
Wenzel said he has been a long supporter of marriage equality and doesn’t oppose changing the laws as needed but would oppose any Legislation changing the term to a “pairage.”
Senate District 18 covers parts of Weber, Davis and Morgan counties. According to records received from the Lt. Gov’s office, District 18 has about 2,400 registered Republicans, about 445 Democrats and around 2,500 unaffiliated voters. While there have been close elections in the past, District 18 has not elected a Democrat since 1998.
Millner says she’s not taking anything for granted and has to continue to represent what her constituents want.
Wenzel says he even though the state leans right he approaches all people as individuals rather than defining them by political ideals.
“Asking questions and seeking a win-win situation are the basic tenets I try to live by when speaking to people,” Wenzel said.
The election will be Nov. 4 and the winner will serve a 4-year term in the State Senate.