Newcomer Mark Borowiak mounting GOP primary challenge to Rep. Brad Last

Mark Borowiak, GOP challenger for Utah House District 71, speaks during a "meet the candidates" event at Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, June 6, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With the GOP primary election just days away, political newcomer Mark Borowiak says he is hoping to mount a serious challenge to and possibly even unseat incumbent Brad Last, who has held the Utah House District 71 seat since January 2003.

District 71 covers the eastern portions of Washington and Iron counties, including the municipalities of Hurricane, Toquerville, Springdale and several other smaller towns in Washington County, plus Parowan, Enoch and Brian Head in Iron County.

Mark Borowiak, GOP challenger for Utah House District 71, on the floor of the Maverik Center at the state Republican convention, West Valley City, Utah, April 21, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Mark Borowiak, St. George News

At the state Republican convention held in West Valley City in April, Borowiak forced Last into a primary by securing 27 of the 58 delegate votes cast, or 47 percent, while Last received 31 votes, or 53 percent.

It marked the first in-party challenge in several elections for Last, who has won eight straight two-year terms as a state representative. A Hurricane resident, Last is chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee in the Utah House of Representatives.

In the most recent general election in 2016, Last defeated Democrat challenger Chuck Goode by nearly 10,000 votes, winning nearly 82 percent of the vote to Goode’s 18 percent.

Borowiak is a retired engineer and former high school math teacher who moved from Illinois to Southern Utah in 2013. Like his opponent, Borowiak is also a resident of Hurricane.

Borowiak told St. George News that since he is retired, he can fully dedicate his time to being a legislator.

“I’m retired. And what that means is, I feel I can be highly responsive. My opponent has a full-time job,” he said. “I’m going to do this full-time.” 

Last’s full-time job is that of vice president of development at Dixie State University.

“I know the Legislature is only in session for 45 days out of the year, but the rest of the year I’ll be spending a lot of time researching topics, meeting with people, holding open houses,” Borowiak added.

Borowiak also promised to be readily available to constituents if he is elected.

“They’ll be able to get a hold of me whenever, through email, through phone calls,” he said. “I want to be available to the people.

“Secondly, I’m not a career politician. My opponent has been doing this for 16 years. In fact, I don’t even like the term politician. I’d like the term public servant because I’m going into this really just to help people.”

Borowiak said he has extensive experience as an engineer in getting large projects done on time and on budget.

“I’ve had people tell me we need somebody in office 10 or 12 years because it takes that long to get stuff done,” he said. “I reject that kind of thinking that it should take 10 or 12 years to learn about and pass laws. We need to be a little more proactive than that.”

Borowiak also said he supports lower taxes and conservative spending.

“My opponent spent $6,500 gathering signatures. I wouldn’t run if I’d had to do that,” he said. “I went through the convention only. I didn’t spend $6,500 in campaign money. In fact, I’ve raised zero campaign dollars — zero! I’ve had people offer me money and I said I don’t want to take any money because I don’t want it to even appear that I have any conflicts of interest.”

Borowiak said he also plans to focus on bringing high paying manufacturing and technical jobs to Southern Utah.

“It’s got to be in a collaborative effort to entice somebody to come,” he said, adding that a primary goal is to keep those in the younger generation living and working in the area.

“I had a mayor tell me, ‘You know what? Our greatest export in this area is our kids. We export them out of here because they can’t find a job.‘”

“Finally, I’d like to see more localized control, both in our schools and for our lands that are highly managed by the federal government right now,” Borowiak said. “I’d like to see more control at the state level.”

See Borowiak’s campaign website for a link to a video of his five-minute nomination speech at the state GOP convention, along with a link to a half-hour interview with Lane Ronnow in an episode of the Community Education Channel’s “A Story to Tell,” which was first posted on YouTube June 4. Ronnow also interviewed Last in a different episode of the show that was published at the same time.

Contacted by St. George News for comment Saturday, Last said he hopes District 71 voters will once again support him in his bid for re-election.

Utah Rep. Brad Last at the Washington County GOP Lincoln Day Breakfast, St. George, Utah, Feb. 17, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

“It is a privilege for me to represent District 71 in the state House of Representatives,” Last said. “I have never lost sight of what an amazing opportunity it is to serve.”

“I hope to continue my involvement with the state budget as the chair of Executive Appropriations,” he said. “This gives me the chance to be involved as nearly every legislative spending decision is considered.”

Last said he also plans to continue working on several key education issues, including school safety.

As for the election campaign itself, however, Last is admittedly less than enthusiastic.

“I must be honest, campaigning is not my favorite activity,” Last added. “So I will be glad when Tuesday evening arrives.”

“I’d like to remind everyone to get out and vote.”

Last recently received an endorsement from Howard Sierer, who writes a regular opinion column called “Right On” for St. George News.

Read more: Right On: My Republican primary endorsements

The statewide GOP primary elections are this Tuesday.

Iron County’s GOP primary is being conducted predominantly by mail only, with voters having to have their ballots postmarked by Monday or dropped off in person at one of the designated county voting locations before the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday. In-person early voting has also been taking place at the selected locations. Republican voters in all counties may check vote.utah.gov to find their primary voting information.

The winner of the primary will advance to face Democrat challenger Goode in the November general election.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • ffwife June 24, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    I hope he wins – time for a change!

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