Friday, March 07, 2008

South Valley Democrats file for office, pledging support for public schools, integrity

Six south valley Democrats today announced their candidacy for Utah State House of Representatives. Fred Ash (Dist. 41), Laura Black (Dist. 45), Marie Poulson (Dist. 46), Trisha Beck (Dist. 48), Jay Seegmiller (Dist. 49), and Lisa Johnson (Dist. 51) filed declarations at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office when the filing period opened early this morning.

In response to the announcement, Congressman Jim Matheson said, “We have a great slate of legislative candidates in this area, people who reflect the values of the community and will represent voters with integrity.”

All the candidates list public education among their highest priorities, as well as bringing mainstream Utahns back into the political process.

“We have to end this disconnect between the legislature and the citizens they claim to represent,” said Johnson, who was a spokesperson for Utahns for Public Schools during the 2007 campaign against private school vouchers.

That disconnect is what prompted Poulson and Ash—former educators and former Republicans — to change their affiliation and run as Democrats. “In Utah, it seems the Republican Party no longer represents everyday citizens,” said Poulson.

Beck, a former State Representative, looks forward to the campaign ahead. “We want people to know how committed we are to these races and to representing the people in our districts.”

Both Seegmiller and Black, who is also an educator, came within 20 votes of victory in 2006. Seegmiller hopes to unseat Speaker of the House Greg Curtis.

Candidate Profiles

Fred Ash

Fred Ash holds Bachelor of Arts (English, math), Master of Education, and Education Specialist degrees from Brigham Young University. He has spent thirty-six years in public education, including eleven years as a high school English teacher, nineteen as a high school administrator, five as a middle school principal, and one year as a part-time math teacher. He also refereed for high school basketball for eight years and high school softball for six years. More recently, he has served as the Jordan Retired School Employees Association President.

Fred has volunteered in community sports for many years, coaching Little League baseball, soccer, flag football, and basketball. He also served as a church league basketball referee for thirty years and as the Jordan High Booster Club President.

As a strong proponent of public schools and responsible development, he objects to the way the private school vouchers and a soccer stadium were pushed on his community.

Fred is married to Louella Jean Ash. He has six children, four step-children, twenty-three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Trisha Beck

Born in Salt Lake City in 1952, Trisha grew up in Utah. She graduated from Skyline High School where she was active in student government. After high school, Trisha continued her education at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, where she later received her undergraduate degree in Political Science.

Trisha has always been involved in her community. As a dedicated wife of twenty-nine years, mother of six, former legislator, volunteer community advocate, and small business woman, Trisha has served her community by building political bridges, advocating for those in need, making a difference in Utah's schools, strengthening crime prevention, and reforming the health care system to better serve the public.

In the Utah State Legislature, she served on many committees, including Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Heath and Human Services, Child Welfare Oversight, and Economic and Community Development Appropriations. She also took part in the Coalition for a Quality Education, the Safe Kids Coalition, and the Council for Infants and Toddlers with Special Needs and Their Families.

Trisha currently serves as a member of the Parent Provider Council for the University Health Care HOME Program, The State Quality Improvement Committee with the Division of Child and Family Services, and The Learning Disabilities Association of Utah.

Laura Black

Born in Salt Lake City, Laura spent her early years in Ely, Nevada, graduating from White Pine High School. She returned to Utah to attend Brigham Young University, moving to Sandy after her freshman year, where she has resided for the past 30 years.

Upon graduation from the University of Utah, Laura began her teaching career at Bingham High School in the Jordan School District. She is currently employed as a labor relations specialist for teachers in the Jordan School District, serving on numerous district committees that promote teacher quality, performance and retention.

Laura has been actively involved in local politics and community organizations. She serves on the Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity Board, and has been a long-time member of the Midvale Kiwanis Club.

Laura enjoys gardening, cooking, painting and travel.

Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson grew up in Sandy, where she attended public schools in Jordan District. After graduating from Jordan High School, she attended Brigham Young University, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Russian. She later received a Master of Arts in linguistics, also from BYU, and earned an Outstanding Thesis Award for her research on Nauruan language. She has taught Korean at the Missionary Training Center and Russian conversation at BYU. As part-time faculty in BYU’s Department of Linguistics and English Language, she enjoys introducing students to the study of language.

Lisa’s community involvement includes helping to start and maintain a Neighborhood Watch program, joining the Community Emergency Response Team, and serving on the board of a consumer advocacy nonprofit organization. As a member of the Utahns for Public Schools Steering Committee, Lisa helped organize the anti-voucher petition drive in 2007. She later became the spokesperson for the organization, speaking out against the proposal to give public dollars to unaccountable private schools.

Lisa and her husband Craig are the parents of three children, one preschooler and two in public schools. She has enjoyed volunteering at school for the last seven years.

Marie Poulson

Marie Poulson was born and raised in Springville, Utah. She graduated from Springville High School and then went on to study at BYU where she received a BA cum laude in English and history and completed her teacher certification. After teaching one year at Provo High School, she married Daniel Poulson in spring 1972 and moved with him to San Francisco to live in the city while he studied dentistry at the University of Pacific. Upon graduation from dental school, the Poulsons moved to northern Germany where Dan served in the Army Dental Corps.

In 1978, Dan and Marie returned to Utah where he set up a dental practice in Holladay and they purchased a home in Cottonwood Heights. For the last thirty years, they have resided in the Cottonwood Heights area raising five children and participating in community and church activities. Among others, Marie has served as a scout leader, a school volunteer, a coach, and has participated in neighborhood groups to feed the homeless, organized can food drives for the Utah Food Bank and made several trips to New Orleans to aid Hurricane Katrina victims

In 1990, Marie returned to the teaching profession, teaching English and History first at Mount Jordan Middle School in Sandy, then Bingham High School in South Jordan, and finally at Riverton High School in Riverton. Marie has taught in Utah’s public schools for a total of sixteen years.

Lately, her greatest joy has been the addition of four grandchildren.

Jay Seegmiller

Jay Seegmiller has lived in District 49 for 19 years. He and his wife of 29 years, Michelle, raised their four children in Sandy. Jay & Michelle also became proud grandparents for the first time in March of 2007. Jay grew up in the Glendale area of Salt Lake City and graduated from South High School. Jay has worked in the railroad industry for 31 years and is currently a Conductor for Amtrak. He twice has been awarded Amtrak's prestigious “President's Service and Safety Award.” Protecting the interests of his fellow workers always has been a priority for Jay. He has been active in the United Transportation Union (UTU) during his entire career at Amtrak. Jay currently serves as the Utah State Legislative Director for the UTU.

Jay is active in his community, serving on the Sandy City Transportation Committee. He has also arranged for parents and teachers to meet with Congressman Jim Matheson at Hillcrest High School to discuss ways to fix some of the problems with “No Child Left Behind,” in particular how it harms children with learning disabilities and their schools and teachers.

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