Editor’s Note: The columns under “Another Look” on this page are part of a series by or about candidates who will be on the June 28 primary election ballot in Sanpete County.
Written by Burgess Owens
My 10-year career in the National Football League taught me many things. Most prominent were commitment, resilience, facing fear/failure and working within a team atmosphere with shared goals.
During my years as an Oakland Raider, we earned the reputation of being a “motley crew”— A collection of rowdy, rambunctious and aggressive players with diverse personalities and backgrounds. The common goal we shared culminated in a Super Bowl championship that was summarized in three words by our Raiders’ owner, Al Davis: “Just Win Baby”.
Two of my teammates were Utahans and BYU alumni, Todd Christensen and Marc Wilson. Through their influence in 1982, I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and years later decided to send my six children to Utah for their college education. A decade ago, I followed them and now proudly represent the 4th District.
It has been Utah values that have guided my journey for over 40 years. Our unique culture has been a gift to millions. Utah stands as the fastest growing state in the union for the last 10 years.
We are different and are proud of it. The tenants that define our great nation likewise define our Utah culture: A commitment to faith, family, the free market and education. It is within our nature to work hard with a vision to leave our communities a better place for future generations. It is the reason so many across the country come to visit but find “home.”
I am the proud son of two educators, so I had a front row seat to the love good educators have for their profession. This was highlighted by one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, when he stated, “Ignorant and free can never be.”
I therefore see education as the modern day fight of civil rights. Every child, regardless of race, creed or zip code should have the right to their hopes and dreams, which is only available with the tools of reading, writing and critical thinking skills. With Utah’s commitment to education, we have the unique opportunity to lead. Lead with parental choice, rights and curriculum transparency.
We can lead in merit-based income by allowing our educators the opportunity to participate in the system that the rest of our nation does. With meritocracy, we’ll attract/ keep the best our nation has to offer, utilize taxpayer dollars for a better return, produce a robust workforce and give our children the opportunity to compete worldwide.
This vision is why I serve on the Education and Labor Committee, and as a freshman, am honored to be the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.
On day one, Team Owens got to work, working with students, parents and teachers in every corner of Utah’s 4th District. We have cultivated common-sense legislation to increase parental choice, expand high-quality opportunities and strengthen the building blocks of our nation’s education system.
The first bill I introduced, the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, aimed to expand quality elementary, secondary career and technical education opportunities for students by providing a federal tax credit to encourage individuals and businesses to donate to nonprofit scholarship funds.
My most recent bill, the Securing Our Students Act (SOS Act), utilizes hundreds of billions of dollars in unused COVID funding to help local school districts both identify and implement school safety measures to ensure every student’s safety in the classroom.
For far too long, we’ve neglected to protect our greatest and most important asset: our children. We protect our banks, airports and stadiums, but have for far too long we have failed to protect our children. This bill, once passed in Congress, will bring relief immediately.
Our next generation should be our top priority, but we have let them down. From closed schools, the CRT anti-American curriculum (taught to children as young as 3 years old), defund the police, attack on our energy industry, open/unvetted borders, and record high drug overdoses, to rapid devaluation of stock market savings and a 40-year-high crippling inflation, it is obvious the Biden administration policies have let the American people down.
This is not about Republicans, Democrats or independents; this is about policies and priorities. Let us come together and demand pro-American policies and vote representatives into office to stand and fight for them.
Burgess Owens grew up in Tallahassee, Florida. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Miami. He was one of the first African-American players on the University of Miami football team. He later played in the National Football League for 10 years. He is the founder of Second Chance for Youth, a nonprofit dedicated to helping incarcerated youth. He formerly represented the north part of Sanpete County, but with redistricting, he now represents the whole county.