The Republican candidate running against a longtime Provo GOP senator said she would cut government programs to reduce spending and support efforts to reform education and get more funding into classrooms if elected.
“I’m very passionate about education,” said Sylvia Andrew, who is running to represent State Senate District 16.
Andrew, who has lobbied on Capitol Hill and spent years as a state and county delegate, received 41.7% of delegate votes during the Utah Republican Party’s convention in April, forcing incumbent Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who received 58.3% of delegate votes, into a primary.
The election process itself is a point of contention in the race. Andrew is adamantly opposed to Senate Bill 54, a 2014 bill that amended provisions of Utah’s Election Code to enable candidates to qualify for a primary election by collecting signatures.
The bill, which Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law in March 2014, was sponsored by Bramble.
“I believe in the caucus system,” Andrew said in an interview Thursday. “I think it’s been working beautifully. Because we delegates get to actually talk to the candidates, we get to find out their positions, and we can dig and find out stuff about them. Whereas the normal person doesn’t have time. The regular voter doesn’t have time to do all that.”
Andrew added that S.B. 54 benefits incumbents and “the people that have the name recognition and the money, because they can pay to get signatures out.”
Despite her opposition to S.B. 54, which incorporated elements of the 2014 “Count My Vote” citizens-led initiative, the Republican candidate said she doesn’t expect the law to be repealed any time soon.
A primary focus of Andrew’s campaign is advocating for “small and transparent government,” she said.
“I want a stronger economy for everyone,” she said. “I will never vote to raise taxes. In fact, we need to go through the programs and decide what is working and what is not. If we have programs that are not working, we need to cut them out.”
Even though Andrew wants less government spending, the GOP candidate said Utah needs to invest more in education and “help our teachers out.”
“I don’t understand why the money that we’re giving for education is not getting to the teachers and why it’s not getting to the classrooms,” said Andrew. “Why are they having to pay for their own supplies? That’s wrong. Teachers already spend so much time in the classrooms.”
Andrew added that she opposes Common Core and doesn’t believe standardized testing is the best method of teaching and evaluating knowledge.
“Teachers have to teach to the test,” she said. “I don’t like that. We need to give teachers more flexibility to teach.”
Andrew also believes “we need to be bringing back more of the vocational and the technical learning” to compensate for the declining number of plumbers, electricians and other technical workers.
“There’s just not enough young people that are going into these businesses,” said Andrew, noting that she and her husband have run a small heating and air conditioning business for 35 years.
When asked what else voters should know about her campaign, Andrew emphasized her commitment to socially conservative principles.
“I’m pro-life,” Andrew said. “I’m pro-family. I’m pro-Second Amendment.”