Democratic Cole R. Capener and Republican Logan Wilde are both vying for the legislative seat left open after long-time incumbent Mel Brown failed by a handful of votes to make it past the primary election. Capener and Wilde both hope to represent Utah House of Representatives District 53—including Morgan, Summit, Daggett, Rich and Duchesne—for the next two years.
Capener is an international business lawyer, adjunct university professor of law and finance, corporate board director, and founder/president of a public charity. An Ogden native, Capener has lived in Summit County since 2001.
While he says he has no political experience, Capener closely follows each legislative session.
Capener says several things qualify him for public office.
“I care about people and how our government responds to their needs,” Capener said. “I grew up in Utah. My parents are from here and my great grandpa was one of the early pioneers who settled here. I have family and friends in Morgan County, also. I’m a product of our public schools.”
After an LDS mission to Taiwan, Capener graduated from the University of Utah, where he was an intern at the state legislature. He graduated from the George Washington University Law School. After visiting over 60 countries in the world, Capener has varied experience in the private sector, academia and philanthropy. “I believe this experience provides me with a unique perspective to contribute to public policy discussions in our state government,” he said.
He said several things make him the best candidate for the office, Capener said.
“First, I like to bring people together to find common ground and bi-partisan solutions. Second, I’m a good listener and will represent the wishes of the good people in Morgan County,” Capener said. “Third, I like people and try to use common sense as often as I can. I like to say that I know enough to know that I don’t know enough, so I am constantly striving to learn and understand more.”
Capener said the biggest issue facing Morgan County is public education.
“My biggest passion is supporting public education in our state. We owed our children a world-class, technologically advanced education,” Capener said. “But the current legislature only provides funding to keep us dead-last in per-pupil-spending. The status quo is not acceptable. Without proper funding, our classes are too large, we lack innovative technologies to enhance learning and our teachers are not paid fairly—so there is a critical teacher shortage in Utah.”
If elected, Capener said he would increase per-pupil spending “to allow local school districts to reduce class sizes, pay teachers enough to attract and retain the best, and ensure there are computers and innovative software in use in every classroom.”
He said that for over a decade, funds that should have been invested in education have been diverted to roads. “That’s not right, and I intend to do everything I can to stop it,” he said.
“I think government should be responsive to the people’s needs and do it in the most cost-efficient manner. Currently, one party holds 84 percent of the seats in the Utah House of Representatives and that party meets secretly—banning the public and media—to discuss legislation. I think that is clearly wrong. We need more balance and new voices for effective government. We celebrate the free market system because of the competition and disparate choices it provides us. But in our state legislature, only one perspective is heard. We also need an open competition in the political marketplace.”
After a tight primary election that resulted in a recount and lawsuit, Wilde emerged as the Republican nominee for state legislature.
Wilde has lived in Croydon, Morgan County, for the past 40 years, working on the 17,000-acre family-owned sheep and cattle ranch. After serving an LDS mission in North Carolina, he continued his education at Weber State University, where I met his wife, Kim. Together, they have five children and “plenty of hard labor to keep them out of trouble.”
His service over the last 15 years includes three years as Morgan County’s Young Farmer for the Farm Bureau of Utah; six years as treasurer then supervisor for the Morgan Conservation District; 12 years as treasurer for the Croydon Pipeline Company while concurrently serving on the Morgan County Water Board; eight years as a member of the Morgan Conservation District; three years as a Morgan County Councilman; and current chairman of the Weber Morgan Health Department.
During his affiliation with the Morgan Conservation District, Wilde had the opportunity to serve on the Utah Association of Conservation Districts and the Utah Conservation Commission and work as the principle legislative contact for the UACD, meeting with congressional and state legislators and their staffs. As Morgan County Council Chairman, Wilde sat on many boards and committees.
“I am running for representative of House District 53 because I want to serve and strengthen our community in a responsible way,” said Wilde, 40. “I feel I am the strongest candidate because the State House of Representatives is made up of men and women from all over the state, but only 12 percent of the representatives have any local government experience. I believe that my local experience gives a much-needed perspective in legislation.”
As a candidate with experience in local government, Wilde said he believes the biggest problem Morgan faces is ongoing mandates that continue to trickle down from state and federal governments.
“Morgan’s small community size and fiscally conservative base make necessary government expansions near impossible with tight budgets,” he said.
For example, district courts are requiring two to four deputies to assist with court for four to six hours, twice a week. This cuts into time deputies can spend out in the community, he said. Schools are also forced into many different mandates, which limit monetary resources that should be put back into classrooms. Struggling infrastructure roads, water systems and basic community services are struggling under the burden of regulations and public service regulations have caused a huge increase in inflation over the past 20 years, Wilde claims.
“We cannot expect small local governments to compete with larger governments in the type of services they can provide. If we want small counties, cities and schools to succeed in the future, we need someone to say enough is enough when it comes to more regulation. We need a voice that will fight for our needs, issues and concerns at the State Capitol,” Wilde said. “Our community needs a voice which can push back against other legislators and special-interest groups who are looking to fix their problems while creating bigger ones for House District 53.”