Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens faced off in a live debate Tuesday night broadcast on radio and television throughout the state. Both candidates are vying to replace retiring congressman Jim Matheson and represent the state’s fourth congressional district.
Mia Love and Doug Owens quickly showcased their differences on several issues. Education and how it should be funded was central in the discussion. Owens said that federal support for school programs and student loans still plays a role in making education affordable.
"You know I’m not satisfied that Utah is dead last in per pupil expenditures and I’ve got an opponent who will make that worse by eliminating the Department of Education and the twelve percent of Utah funding for Utah schools that comes from national sources,” said Owens.
But later on a question specifically about college debt, Love took issue with Owens’ assertion that she wants to dismantle the Department of Education and eliminate federally funded student loans.
“I’ve never called to do away with student loans. Let’s be clear about that. I am convinced that an unlimited flow of federal dollars into colleges has caused the rate of tuition to rise far faster than the rate of inflation, making it very difficult for middle-income families and lower income families to receive a higher education,” said Love.
On the issue of congressional gridlock, both candidates said they would not have supported last year’s federal government shutdown, but Love said she did support more efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act. She pointed to her experience as mayor of Saratoga Springs as an example of how government should work.
“Every member of Congress should ask themselves: is affordable? Is it sustainable? And is it the job of government? Before making any new decisions,” said Love.
On the issue of immigration, both candidates support reforms that secure the border, but Owens said he supported the comprehensive legislation passed in the Senate that includes a path to citizenship for non-legal immigrants already in the U.S.
“I support compassionate fair reform on immigration. Senator Hatch voted for legislation recently, sensible bi-partisan legislation that came out of the Senate. I support legislation of that kind.
Love currently leads the race by up to 9 points according to a recent poll released by UtahPolicy.com. It also notes that 9 percent of voters in the district are still undecided. Owens said he’s confident he can close that gap.