Editor’s Note: The columns under “Another Look” on this page are part of a series by or about candidates running in the June 28 Sanpete County primary.
Written by Burgess Owens
My 10-year career in the National Football League has taught me a lot. Most important were commitment, resilience, dealing with fear/failure and working in a team atmosphere with shared goals.
During my years as the Oakland Raiders, we’ve earned a reputation for being a “motley crew” — a collection of rowdy, boisterous, and aggressive players with diverse personalities and backgrounds. The common goal we shared culminated in a Super Bowl championship, which our Raiders owner Al Davis summed up in three words: “Just Win Baby.”
Two of my teammates were Utahans and BYU alumni, Todd Christensen and Marc Wilson. Through her influence, I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1982, and years later decided to send my six children to Utah for their college education. I followed them a decade ago and now proudly represent the 4th District.
It’s the values of Utah that have guided my journey for over 40 years. Our unique culture has been a gift to millions. Utah is the fastest growing state in the Union over the past 10 years.
We are different and we are proud of that. The renters who make up our great nation also define our Utah culture: a commitment to faith, family, the free market and education. It is in our nature to work hard with a vision to leave our communities a better place for future generations. That’s why 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 for good educators’ love of their profession. This was highlighted by one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, when he said, “There can never be ignorance and free.”
That’s why I see education as the modern struggle for civil rights. Every child, regardless of race, creed, or zip code, should have the right to their hopes and dreams that is only available with the tools of reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. With Utah’s commitment to education, we have a unique opportunity to lead. Lead with parental choices, rights and curriculum transparency.
We can be leaders in merit-based income by giving our educators the opportunity to participate in the system that the rest of our nation has. With meritocracy, we will attract/retain the best our nation has to offer, use taxpayer dollars for better returns, create a resilient workforce, and empower our children to compete globally.
This vision is why I serve on the Education and Labor Committee, and as a freshman I am honored to be the senior member of the Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee.
On day one, Team Owens got to work, working with students, parents and teachers in every corner of Utah’s 4th Circuit. We have cultivated sound legislation to increase parental choice, expand quality opportunities, and strengthen the building blocks of our country’s education system.
The first bill I introduced, the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, aimed to expand quality undergraduate, secondary, and technical education opportunities by providing a federal tax credit to encourage individuals and businesses to donate to charitable scholarship funds.
My most recent bill, the Securing Our Students Act (SOS Act), uses hundreds of billions of dollars in unused COVID funds to help local school districts identify and implement school safety measures to keep all students safe in the classroom.
For far too long we have failed to protect our greatest and most important asset: our children. We protect our banks, airports and stadiums, but for far too long we have failed to protect our children. This legislation, once passed by Congress, will provide immediate relief.
Our next generation should be our top priority, but we let them down. From closed schools, the anti-American CRT curriculum (taught to children as young as 3), police defunding, attacks on our energy industry, open/unchecked borders and record high drug overdoses, to the rapid debasement of stock market savings and a 40 year high crippling inflation, it is evident that the Biden administration’s policies have failed the American people.
This isn’t about Republicans, Democrats, or independents; This is about guidelines and priorities. Let’s come together and call for pro-American policies and elect representatives 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 non-profit organization dedicated to supporting incarcerated youth. He used to represent the northern part of Sanpete County, but with the reallocation he now represents the entire county.