Former Orem City Council member and current state legislator Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, has announced that he will be running for a seat in the United States Congress in Utah's newly created fourth House district. He joins fellow legislator and Patrick Henry caucus member Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, in the race.
In an interview Monday morning Sandstrom said he will be pursuing the seat to advance conservative values, support a balanced budget, work toward economic recovery and stability and perhaps have the chance to fulfill a childhood dream.
"This is something that I've had my goals set on and dreamed about since I was 8 years old," Sandstrom said. "Literally."
Sandstrom said he spent his early life in school putting himself in position to one day run for Congress. He was on the debate team, took public speaking classes and got a political science degree from Brigham Young University, all in hopes that one day he would have the chance to run. Sandstrom explained that the reason people should consider him for Congress is not because it is a childhood dream; rather he points to his success as a business leader.
"I have taken a business that had four employees to now over 20," he said. "I know how hard it is to have to meet payroll. I understand what it is to be a businessman."
Sandstrom was on a career path to become an airline pilot but left that path to save his family's business after his father began having health issues. He said the business, Sandstrom Architecture, is one of the most successful architectural firms in the intermountain region.
Sandstrom has gained name recognition throughout the state during the past 18 months as he took upon himself the task of crafting an enforcement-only immigration law that passed in the last state legislative session, House Bill 497. Sandstrom held meetings throughout the state, meeting with people on both sides of the issue to get input on how the bill should be written. In his six years as a state legislator he has covered more topics than just immigration, he noted.
"I am not, nor ever will be, a single-issue legislator," Sandstrom said. "There are too many needs, viewpoints and variables that affect our safety, security and quality of life. I have proven my capability to listen to the needs of my constituents and bring balanced policy solutions to the table."
Sandstrom's path to making the decision has been a long one. He initially planned to run in Utah's third district when it was widely believed that U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, was going to challenge U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
On the day Chaffetz backed away from the Hatch challenge, Sandstrom was scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., to have strategy meetings on how he could win Chaffetz's seat. Once news broke that Chaffetz wasn't going to run against Hatch, Sandstrom canceled his D.C. trip and huddled with his advisers to pick the next best option for his future.
Sandstrom had said he was debating between the fourth district and Utah's second district. He currently does not reside in either, but noted that the fourth is only 15 blocks away from his current residence, which makes it a good fit for him.
"A good portion of it is in Utah County, where I was born and raised," he said.
Sandstrom said he hasn't talked with Wimmer about the decision to challenge him for the Republican nomination for the seat. He said Wimmer is a good friend and hopes that voters will give both fair consideration.
"I hope they take a hard look at me and whoever else is in the race. That makes the process good," Sandstrom said.
Wimmer said he was a little surprised that Sandstrom opted to run in the fourth district. He said Sandstrom had told him a few weeks earlier, when both were at the Capitol, that he wouldn't challenge him in the fourth. Wimmer, though, welcomed his friend into the race for Utah's new House seat.
"Let me be the first to welcome him to the race," Wimmer said.