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Utah’s polygamous groups are once again circulating a voters’ guide that ranks political candidates and their views on issues important to fundamentalist communities.
This year’s ratings were based on responses or actions related to campaign ethics and civil rights. Among questions candidates were asked: “Should polygamous people have the same right as other Utah citizens to hold public offices?”
The guide is the fourth produced by Communities in Harmony, offering a fundamentalist Mormon perspective on ballot issues and candidates from U.S. president to district judge. For the first time, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is participating. The guide highlights the April raid on a Texas ranch occupied by sect members.
Representatives from three communities polled candidates, according to Carlene Cannon of the Davis County Cooperative Society. Candidates’ reactions varied from “very offended to very supportive,” Cannon said. Many candidates did not respond to requests for information, while others refused to participate, according to the guide.
In all, evaluations are offered for more than 150 candidates and issues.
Unlike previous guides, the editor of the 2008 edition lists her personal “yes” or “no” vote on dozens of candidates — something Cannon is quick to say may not be reflective of views of other fundamentalist Mormons.
Three candidates received a “no” vote from the guide’s editor: Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg and 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez. All three have been involved in high-profile cases involving polygamous communities.
Shurtleff, whose office participated in the prosecution of FLDS leader Warren S. Jeffs last year, did not respond.
Lindberg approved the takeover of United Effort Plan Trust, a communal property trust organized by the FLDS decades ago. Valdez was involved in a child welfare case involving Heidi Matting Foster, a plural wife of John Daniel Kingston.
There are an estimated 30,000 fundamentalist Mormons in Utah, a count that includes adults and children. Cannon believes margins in some races are small enough that “we feel our communities working together do have enough people to sway the vote one way or another.
“We would like the candidates to know they are just as accountable to constituents in our community as constituents everywhere else,” Cannon said. “We feel it is important to have just and fair people in office who represent the same values we hold dear.”
The Salt Lake Tribune
Copyright (c) 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune

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