[an error occurred while processing this directive] Nicole G. Farrell
Logan Municipal Councilwoman Karen Borg remembers those days well.
"There was no issue that caused so much personal pain; no issue that got as much public input," Borg recalls. "I received over 700 phone calls not to mention people pulling me aside in the grocery store."
And although she feels good about the alcohol ordinances the council drafted and passed, she said it's an issue that will continually resurface. That's why she has said in her campaign, specifically during local radio spots, that she will work to retain local control of alcohol.
Borg faces Gina Wickwar in the Nov. 2 general election. In what emerged as the tightest race of the primaries, Wickwar received 321 more votes than the incumbent.
At the same time Borg's ads referring to alcohol ordinances were running on the radio, the issue surfaced on another front.
Last week, a memo was distributed by the presidency of the Logan Utah East Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urging ward leaders to become "well-acquainted with the candidates."
"For example," the memo reads, "two of the top vote-getters in the primary elections have favored major revisions in Logan's alcohol ordinances. The church has identified 'proliferation and availability of alcoholic beverages' as a moral issue and one in which we should be involved."
Members of the LDS Church, Cache Valley's predominant religion, are directed by church leaders to abstain from consuming alcohol.
But Stake President Jay Monson said the stake presidency's intention was simply to encourage people to be informed and actively participate in the democratic process.
After some ward leaders questioned the memo in a leadership meeting, Monson issued a clarification. It was never his intent to tell people whom to vote or not vote for, he said.
And the fact that Borg's radio ads were on the air around the same time the memo was distributed was purely coincidental, Monson said.
"We frankly admit that after reading it over after being contacted about the memo, we can see where this misunderstanding may have occurred," the second memo reads. "We plan to study the issues, get to know the positions of each candidate on those issues and then vote according to the dictates of our own consciences. We apologize for this misinterpretation if it has occurred."
Wickwar, who disagreed with the message of the first memo but said she didn't want to make a big deal of it, said like others, including the Cache Chamber of Commerce, she advocated the Logan Municipal Council adopt the state alcohol laws. That was during the first stages of the ordinance-drafting process three years ago.
"It seemed at the time, if Logan was revisiting its alcohol laws, why not start with state laws to begin with?" Wickwar recalled.
But that doesn't mean she's planning on revisiting the issue. Wickwar said she's happy with what happened in 1995.
"I don't feel bad about that," Wickwar said. "The council did a wise and progressive thing. I said afterward, 'OK, this is super.'"
The LDS Church maintains a "long-standing policy of strict political neutrality" and it "does not endorse political parties, platforms or candidates," according to church spokesman Dale Bills.
But though the LDS Church doesn't endorse candidates, it speaks out on select moral issues, Monson said, referring in the second memo to church President Gordon B. Hinckley's comments about moral issues, specifically gay marriage, during the church's last General Conference.
The LDS Church's involvement in supporting a California marriage ballot initiative it says is a moral issue has been questioned recently by supervisors for the city and county of San Francisco. They've asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the church's tax-exempt status, as IRS rules prohibit religious organizations from engaging in substantial political activity.
According to Monson, alcohol is another issue the church takes a stand on.
"Alcohol will always be an issue," Monson said. "There haven't been a lot of issues the church has involved itself in, but they do feel alcoholic substances should be controlled."
Borg said she "absolutely does not see this (alcohol) as a religious issue," but defends the church's right, like any large institution, to lobby for what it feels is proper. [an error occurred while processing this directive]