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Vaughn Hokanson challenges Senator Ron Winterton for 2022 Republican nomination

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Vaughn Hokanson

Vaughn Hokanson is a law clerk and former gymnastics coach who’s now working on Jason Preston’s congressional campaign. He’s also running to represent the Wasatch Back in the Utah Senate.

Vaughn Hokanson’s background spans many locations and occupations - and he’s now adding politics to that list. In the June primary, he’s challenging Senator Ron Winterton to be the Republican nominee for Utah Senate District 20. The seat covers much of Wasatch County and Park City.

Hokanson was born in Ogden. After moving to small-town Nebraska, he and his 11 siblings made up a quarter of one town’s 42-person population. He used to visit the Heber Valley regularly with family, and he now lives in Heber City with his wife and three sons.

He says he’s running to promote rural interests and reduce state-level government influence.

“A lot of the people that I've met as I have lived in Heber have that same love of freedom and want to see their interests represented at a state level and not be usurped or overpowered by the larger cities along the Wasatch Front,” he says.

He graduated from Akron Law School with the intent of influencing education reform. He now clerks for two law firms, used to work for an education foundation promoting STEM-based learning, and also ran a gymnastics gym in Heber City.

He was a state and county delegate for the Republican Party and now works for U.S. Congressional candidate Jason Preston’s campaign.

He says that government experience showed him legislators including Winterton should take a stronger approach against what he calls government overreach.

“I did some research and talked to people about our current representative and found out he's a really nice guy, but I am running to be very firm and stand up on a lot of specific issues, and he hasn't been doing that the way that I'd want him to as my rep,” Hokanson says. “What I'm running for is to deregulate and to give people more freedom - to make the state of Utah more in line with the amendments to the Constitution, more pro-freedom.”

He says he opposes any measures to limit Utahns’ freedoms based on financial and business information, as well as religious and medical beliefs.

Hokanson was involved with the group Defending Wasatch Back’s efforts to declare Wasatch County a second-amendment sanctuary.

He says the Tea Party movement inspired him in the late 2000s.

He’s been active in political rallies over the years. Most recently, he took a megaphone at a rally to protest BYU’s decision in January to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend indoor public events. He says while he respects a private institution’s right to set its own policies, and he wasn’t delivering a message against vaccinations, he was supporting individual liberties.

On Thursday, he’ll attend a meet-the-candidates event in Charleston, just outside of Heber City. He’ll join other candidates for federal, state and local government positions including Kera Birkeland, who’s seeking reelection to the Utah House of Representatives; and candidates for Summit County and Wasatch County councils.

Hokanson’s website is vaughnforutah.com.

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