Jamie Cheek first Democratic candidate to announce run for Rep. Bishop’s seat

A state employee is making a play for the congressional seat opening up with the retirement of U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.

Jamie Cheek, an Ogden resident, says she’s running on a progressive platform, calling for student debt forgiveness and free college tuition and classifying health care and living wages as human rights.

"Our great nation is built on the promise of progress, on the principle of equality, and on the passion for justice," Cheek, 33, said in a YouTube video introducing her candidacy. "We now find ourselves at a fork in the road where each of us must decide which side of history we are going to be on when the dust settles on 2020."

Cheek was born and raised in Wyoming and moved to Utah about a decade ago. Since then, she worked as a college debate coach and as a licensed vocational rehabilitation counselor for the state. She's currently employed as district director for the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation in northern Utah, according to a news release.

Though she's a political newcomer, she said her background in debate and public service have given her the tools to serve as an effective congressional representative. And her personal history — she's a first-generation college graduate in her family — has informed her policy priorities.

"Even with federal aid, scholarships, and a job, I still struggled to pay for rent, books, and food while going to college," she wrote on her campaign website. "We need to be doing more to support the next generation of students to help them reach their potential without shackling their futures."

Cheek lives with her husband, 2-year-old daughter and two dogs.

Cheek is the first Democrat to enter the running in the 1st Congressional District as Bishop, R-Utah, prepares to retire from the position he’s held since 2003. Several Republicans have already jumped into the race, including Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Cannon and veteran Cory Green, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery in 2010.