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Friend kicks off campaign announcement season for county Democrats

By Harrison Epstein - | Feb 22, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Daniel Friend announces his candidacy for the Utah House of Representatives at the Provo Historic Courthouse on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022.

Standing in front of the Provo Historic Courthouse on Saturday, Daniel Friend announced his candidacy for Utah House District 62, which covers part of south Provo to north Springville.

The area was previously District 64, represented by Norm Thurston. Friend was also the democratic candidate against Thurston in 2018, receiving 30% of the vote compared to the incumbent’s 55.5%.

Friend made his positions clear from the start, mentioning education, housing and air quality as issues he cares deeply about. He brought them up in contrast with Thurston for legislation he introduced banning personalized license plates.

While the road to November is long, Friend is ready for everything it will entail.

“I’m ready to be out here in this race. I’m ready to meet people again. I knocked on over 3,000 doors in 2018 and I’m gonna exceed that number this time. I’m ready to meet the people so I can represent them,” Friend said.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Daniel Friend announces his candidacy for the Utah House of Representatives at the Provo Historic Courthouse on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022.

He also brought to the courthouse his wife and children, new to the campaign scene. When he first ran, his wife was pregnant with their first child and Friend said his children have informed his beliefs for this campaign.

“I look at my girls and I want them to have these things I’m running for. They deserve to breathe clean air, they deserve to have the best education possible, not the lowest-funded schools in the nation,” he said.

Emma Fetzer, chair of the Utah County Young Democrats and field director for Friend, was on-hand to encourage volunteers and share information about the upcoming campaign. Looking particularly into younger, college-age people as the democratic base in the area, Fetzer and others see a lane for Democrats to have electoral success in spite of historic challenges.

“I think it’s very easy to lose hope, especially in a place so red. But we’ve seen, in Provo, going increasingly to the left and even more blue,” Fetzer said. She also praised Friend’s ability to break down complex issues in ways that are relatable for voters and bring them into the conversation.

In attendance for the announcement was Darlene McDonald, democratic candidate for the 4th Congressional District, and the newly elected leadership of the Utah County Democrats. County Chair Katie Adams-Anderton and Vice Chair Ethan Bassett were on hand for the first in a series of announcements expected for 2022 office seekers. Getting candidates in the first place, they said, was the first major hurdle.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Utah County Democratic Party Vice Chair Ethan Bassett introduces Daniel Friend at the Provo Historic Courthouse on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. Friend is running for the Utah House of Representatives against Norm Thurston.

Adams-Anderton was elected as chair on Jan. 19 and was replaced by Bassett as vice chair on Feb. 3.

Of the 14 Utah House districts that covered parts of Utah County, only candidate was opposed by a Democrat in 2020. Adam Robertson in Provo won 61% of the vote while three seats, held by Cory Maloy, Val Peterson and Nelson Abbott, faced opposition by members of the United Utah Party.

“We have been trying to find candidates for a while now. Now granted we had to wait until the new maps, but we’re still finding people who were interested and then — as we found them and got the new maps — we would go ‘OK, you can go here, you can go there,'” Adams-Anderton said.

She also took the opportunity to praise four city council members in Utah County who are Democrats — two in Provo, one in Cedar Hills and one in Vineyard. Adams-Anderton added that the four are proof to potential candidates that races can be won in the county by Democrats provided they put themselves forward.

Another newly placed hurdle was the signing of Senate Bill 170, which changed the official filing deadline for major-party candidates. The filing period is now from Feb. 28 to March 4, moving the period one week earlier.

One part of the new county party leadership’s goal is making sure to tailor each race to their specific area and not run a cookie-cutter campaign, along with encouraging students who move to Utah County and attend Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University to register in Utah, “where they live for a majority of the time,” instead of their home state.

Housing was the specific issue Adams-Anderton pointed to as one where Democratic candidates connect with college students in the area. Voter drives, she said, give these students the tools to make a change in their communities.


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