District 4 candidates spar on tax reform, education, land use and more at first public debate

- SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – The first shots have been fired in the battle for Utah's 4th Congressional District.

The Utah Taxpayers Association hosted the first public debate between Republican Candidate, Mia Love and Democratic Candidate, Doug Owens at its annual meeting.

It didn't take long for the punches to fly.

Owens started with the recent government shutdown in his opening statement, trying to make his case that Love has extreme views.

"The shutdown lead to the closure of the National Parks, Utah's tourism industry took a $30,000,000 hit. Mia love applauded," said Owens.

Love insists she supported defunding Obamacare, while keeping the government running.

She says she would have voted the same way the rest of Utah's Congressional Delegation did.

She never mentioned Owens by name.

"I'm interested in attacking problems not people. You want to end the dysfunction in Washington? Watch what is happening here," said Love.

The two had four minutes each to answer six questions.

One, was where they stand on the movement to transfer federal land to the state's control?

"I completely support the return of Utah land from the federal government back to the state of Utah as was promised in the Utah Enabling Act," said Love.

"The state has a hard time funding its own lands. I think it would be a huge, new tax burden on Utahns if the state were to take over those lands," said Owens.

They were also asked about what role the federal government should play in education?

"Mia Love has said she would love to eliminate the Department of Education and all federal aid for pre k-12. That would eliminate about 10% of all federal funding for public schools, that is devastating to Utah students," said Owens.

"The best people to make decisions for Utah students are Utah parents and Utah teachers. In recent years the U.S. Department of Education has expanded the federal role in education to unprecedented levels," said Love.

Round one in a race with national implications, democrats are trying to hold the seat and republicans are trying to hold control of the House.

"He took his talking points from what outside groups would put in commercials and all I’m asking is for people to listen to what I say," said Love.

"I intend to draw distinctions between us on the positions and I think every politician in her shoes would like to forget some of the past," said Owens.

Two years ago Love was locked in a tight race with then Incumbent, Jim Matheson.

This year Matheson decided not to run for reelection after serving seven terms.

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