Voter survey identifies issues for state election candidates to address
Citizens in Carbon County and at locations across Utah feel optimistic about the state's future.
However, the results of recently conducted research indicates Utahns remain concerned about several key issues.
In January, Utah Foundation conducted a professional, scientific poll to identify the top 10 issues currently of primary concern to voters statewide.
The scientific research poll is part of the non-partisan public policy research or-ganization's Utah Priorities project.
The foundation launched the statewide project in January to identify the public's top concerns and ensure that voters are well-informed regarding the 2004 election candidates' positions on the crucial issues facing the state, according to the independent organization.
"The priorities project is something that has never been attempted in Utah," pointed out taxpayers foundation director Stephen Kroes.
"As an independent research organization, we are able to bring a unique nonpartisan perspective to the issues and provide ongoing information on how the candidates are addressing them," noted Kroes.
The research results indicated that Utah voters have 10 primary concerns that should be addressed by candidates running for state offices in the 2004 election, especially in the race for governor.
The concerns identified by researchers included the following:
Public education topped the list, with 63 percent of the citizens polled rating the matter as a high priority issue.
When the participants in the survey were asked follow-up questions, 38 percent of the respondents admitted forming opinions about public education through information provided by media outlets.
Another 35 percent of the Utahns polled based opinions on experiences with neighborhood schools.
Utahns are apparently more concerned about teacher quality and pay than class size, pointed out the taxpayers association.
Nearly one-half or 47 percent of the poll respondents rated employment expansion and economic development as top priorities.
Citizens residing in Carbon County and across Utah who participated in the survey identified job creation, the state's pay scales and incentive programs to attract businesses to the state as key concerns.
Water supply and quality ranked third on the list.
Forty-two percent of the Utahns contacted by researchers said water supply and quality were top priority concerns.
Health care ranked fourth, with 39 percent of the state residents polled giving the issue a top priority rating.
Crime and security represented the fifth most pressing concern for Utah voters.
Fifty-eight percent of the survey respondents said the safety of children should be the state's highest priority, while 40 percent ranked identity theft as the most pressing concern, explained the foundation.
Higher education ranked sixth in the statewide issue priority poll.
The ability of graduates to obtain employment and tuition costs tied as the greatest concern, followed by quality of education, funding and enrollment caps, explained the Utah Foundation.
Taxes finished seventh on the list and dealing with growth in Utah ranked as issue number eight.
Sixty-three percent of the respondents classified growth as a good change, while 25 percent felt Utah's expanding population is bad for the state.
Forty-one percent felt the state was growing too fast, while 55 percent said the pace was right.
The majority or 66 percent of the respondents were more concerned about building schools, roads and infrastructure to accommodate an expanding population than attempting to control growth.
In addition, respondents were more concerned about people moving into the state than about Utah's birth rate.
Environment placed ninth on the list.
Thirty percent of the respondents rated air quality as a top priority and 29 percent were concerned with hazardous waste, pointed out the foundation.
Utahns participating in the poll said storage of hazardous waste was the major concern. Transporting the waste to Utah and general environmental issues ranked a close second and third.
Parental rights and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services finished 10th on the list of crucial issues, receiving a top priority rating from 25 percent of the respondents, concluded the independent public policy research organization.