Local residents among those working to launch brand-new political party in Utah
May 30, 2018 01:06PM
● By Carl Fauver
Members of the United Utah party tweaked their group’s constitution during their state convention. (Richard Davis)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Although the United States’ political process has been completely dominated by two parties for as long as anyone can remember, that’s not the only way things are done around the world.
Canada, France, Germany and many other countries have more than two viable parties. But that has simply never gotten much traction here in America, where third-party candidates are normally thought of as nothing more than “spoilers,” who siphon away votes from either the Democrat or Republican.
But an upstart group of Utahns — including several Taylorsville residents — is working now to change that.
“I’ve been involved with both major parties in the past, but in recent years they have both become too extreme,” said United Utah Party Chairman Richard Davis. “(United Utah party members) are trying to find a more moderate, centrist home, where extremists are not dominating. We first brainstormed this idea in 2016, before the presidential election. We want to be able to discuss politics in a civil manner.”
You can count Taylorsville resident Marc Warwood among those who likes what he has heard from the new party so far.
“I heard about (the United Utah Party) from a friend and then saw party members registering people to vote outside a grocery store,” he said. “I’ve never had a party affiliation. In fact, I’m 52 years old and have never voted before. But I am not a (President Donald) Trump supporter, and I’m upset (Sen. Orrin) Hatch stayed in office so long. So, when they started explaining how the party supports term limits, I decided to join.”
United Utah Party officials said they are purposely trying to remain as non-ideological as possible to allow people to feel comfortable join the party. Their positions are flexible on hot-button issues such as gun control and abortion.
“But we are firmly in support of term limits for elected officials and campaign finance reform,” said United Utah Party Executive Director Nils Bergeson. “I’ve always been in the middle of the political spectrum, and I know a lot of other Utahns are as well. It may take us a few election cycles to become truly viable. But for how long we have been organizing the party, I feel we’ve made real progress.”
Bergeson is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the United Utah Party, including working with candidates on their campaigns. The Cache County native has represented the United States abroad, first as a Peace Corps volunteer, then as a foreign service officer with the United States Agency for International Development.
He is also the published children's author of the “MAGNIFICENT GLASS GLOBE” book series.
“The United Utah Party is working to create a political environment that allows us to return to civil and productive discussion of divisive issues,” Bergeson said. “We are aware of many other states that are doing this also. There has been talk of holding some kind of national summit, where the different states can share ideas. But for now, our concentration is strictly on Utah.”
In March, more than 900 people attended United Utah Party caucuses in 10 counties across the state, from St. George to Vernal to Logan. The following month, about 100 of those people attended the United Utah state convention in Midvale, while another 100 or more were connected to — and voted — during the proceeding through satellite connections across the state.
“We have candidates running in 19 separate races this November,” Davis said. “We have candidates in three of the four national House of Representatives’ races, along with 15 state legislative contests and for a seat on the Utah County Commission.”
United Utah Party officials said their focus between now and the fall will be to hold fundraisers, encourage more people to join the party and demonstrate that political discourse can once again be “civil, inspiring and uplifting.”
As one of a handful of Taylorsville residents who are now official members of the United Utah Party, Warwood said, “I like what they are doing.
“We need to change the way candidates are chosen and get away from career politicians,” he added. “I travel around Utah a lot. Particularly in rural areas, it is abundantly clear people are independent, not loyal to the Democratic or Republican parties. That’s why I believe the United Utah Party will succeed as an alternative.”