Utah House, District 9, Steve Olsen

— 1. What did you do to help with the Utah 2019 Tax Referendum? —

I signed the referendum to put it on the ballot.

— 2. What is your position of taxes on food and gasoline? —

Food: In general, I am opposed to regressive taxes (where lower income people pay relatively more than wealthy people as a percentage of their income). A food tax is one of the most regressive taxes, so I am opposed.

Gasoline: The gas tax is a use tax (payed by those who drive), and should cover, as much as possible, the cost of road building and maintenance, combined with other transportation use taxes such as vehicle registration fees. Lower income residents should have tax relief to cushion the burden of higher fuel taxes if increases are warranted. Given the coming wave of electric vehicles, the legislature needs to immediately investigate alternatives to fuel taxes to fund our roads.

— 3. What if any taxes would you implement on services and why? —

I am running as a pragmatist that will judge proposals based on facts and data rather than ideology. I would be open to proposals on a moderate service tax, but only if it was fairly applied and did not give preferential treatment to politically connected sectors of the economy.

— 4. Many Utahns felt that after the town halls and committee meetings that the legislative tax task force held throughout 2019 that their concerns were not heard and that special interests wielded too much influence. On the other hand, many legislators felt that the people didn’t understand the issue or the solutions that they put forth. If elected, how would you respond to the concerns and issues that your constituents bring to you and how would you educate them on the issues you are dealing with? —

I believe the citizens of Utah are smart, and can deal with the facts if presented accurately. I have spent a career as an engineer solving problems, and one of my cardinal rules is: You dig down and understand the root cause of the problem before you even start the discussion about the solution. It seems the task force was focused on pushing their solution more than educating the people and getting input.

— 5. Are you willing to vote against bills that legislative leadership wants you to support even when threatened with losing coveted committee positions, having your legislation held hostage, etc? Explain —

Yes. My goal in the Legislature is as a problem-solving consultant working behind the scenes. Also, I have observed the Legislature for many years, and the Democratic leadership is much more tolerant of members voting their conscience than the other side. I’m not worried about undue pressure from the Democratic leadership.

— 6. Are you in favor of the Utah School Income Tax Constitutional Amendment that will be voted on in November? Why or not? —

I understand the economic changes that have created an imbalance between income tax and other sources of revenue. There is a real problem there; it’s just that the solution that was proposed was overly regressive and unfair. I am not against opening up the income tax to other needs besides education, as long as education funding is maintained. If increases in income tax revenue are required to cover non-education programs, I would be in favor of a mildly progressive change to the tax rates so wealthier Utahns would pay the increase.

— 7. Name one reason you are the best candidate for the position you signed for. —

We have plenty of lawyers and real estate salesmen in the Legislature. I’m different. As a lifetime engineer, statistics practitioner and trained consultant in team-based problem solving, I have the experience and skills to bring people together and use facts and data (rather than rigid political ideology) to solve problems.

— Email —

steveforutah9@gmail.com

My campaign motto is: Hire a professional problem solver! We have plenty of lawyers and real estate salesmen in the Legislature. I’m different. As a lifetime engineer, statistics practitioner and trained consultant in team-based problem solving, I have the experience and skills to bring people together and use facts and data (rather than rigid political ideology) to solve problems.

I’m a native Utahn from pioneer stock and believe passionately in the values taught to me by parents and religious leaders as a child. I live by the creed of our West Point Cadets and Naval Academy Midshipmen: I do not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do. 

I have observed in my church calling helping people in inner city Ogden that many hard-working families are struggling to meet basic needs due to lack of basic heath care, opportunity and support systems. I will fight for everyone to have the opportunity to achieve self-reliance and realize their dreams.

I have spent a lifetime working in Utah’s manufacturing sector as an engineer. My current job is a global problem-solving consultant. In addition to my technical skills, I have been trained as a Six Sigma green belt, which emphasizes team building skills and using facts and data to solve difficult problems. My skills in statistics help me to understand information in data (and to detect when someone is trying to pass off BS as fact). I am consulted frequently by corporate management of my employer, a major global supplier to the automotive industry. Last year, I was awarded my company’s innovation award for my work using artificial intelligence to detect anomalies in airbag system performance.

In addition to my professional work, I have significant experience in volunteer work in the community. This includes leadership positions in my church, service in the Boy Scouts as Scoutmaster, Assistant District Commissioner and District Commissioner, service as Community Council chair in my grandson’s elementary school, and four years as chair of the Weber County Democrats.

Deciding on your vote is just like hiring a consultant to improve your small business. Check out my resume and that of the other guy, and pick the most qualified person for the job. 

The next legislative session will occur in the midst of a severe recession caused by Covid-19. The special interests will be working hard, like after the 2008 financial panic, to get preferential treatment. It will be my job to ensure difficult funding decisions are made with the welfare of Utah’s citizens in mind.

Please go to my website, steveforutah9.com, for more information.