Thomas Hansen, the GOP delegate pick, wants to unseat Christine Watkins in Utah House District 67

While Hanson qualified for the 2024 primary election with delegates’ nod, Watkin is on the ballot after getting enough support through gathering signitures.

In Utah’s House District 67, incumbent Rep. Christine Watkins is facing off against Thomas Hansen to become the district’s Republican nominee this year’s June 25 primary election.

Hansen beat out Watkins at this year’s GOP nominating convention, 88%-12%. The incumbent remains on the primary ballot after gather signatures.

The Salt Lake Tribune asked every primary election candidate in every legislative race about issues readers said were important in the 2024 election. Watkins did not respond with answers and Hansen did. These answers may have minor edits for clarity, grammar and length.

1. Utah’s largest electricity provider has canceled plans to replace its coal-fired power plants with nuclear power and has walked back comments about investing in clean energy.

Should Utah, while it actively supports housing and business development, also be looking for more sustainable and less fossil fuel and carbon-dependent energy?

Hansen: I don’t believe the Utah should “actively support housing and business development”. We should deregulate on the state level making building, permitting and acquiring utilities easier for housing and business development. Other than that, let capitalism and the free market work. Leave as many housing and business development decisions up to county and municipality codes as we can.

We need to ask better questions. How do we ensure energy security and independence? Energy must be reliable, affordable and, most importantly, dispatchable to carry a base load, so-called “renewables” are horribly inefficient, cost prohibitive, and never are dispatchable on demand.

Coal and natural gas are sustainable now. In a lengthy future, a mix of renewable sources could support those dispatchable resources. Nuclear is promising, but we must cut government red tape that is prohibitive to mining and enriching uranium to make it viable.

Watkins: Did not respond.

2. Yes or no: Is climate change negatively impacting Utah?

Hansen: The Earth and the climate have been constantly changing over time and will continue to change. The neat thing about humans is we learn to adapt. People from rural Utah are the most resourceful humans I know. I am optimistic and not negative about climate change.

Watkins: Did not respond.

3. Water scarcity continues to be a challenge for the state. Recent legislation has attempted to conserve water and get more to the Great Salt Lake and Colorado River.

Should Utah do more to subsidize homeowners to conserve water? Should laws require large users to pay more for water? What other steps should state government take to deal with water scarcity?

Hansen: Our state constitution states, “All existing rights to the use of any of the waters in this State for any useful or beneficial purpose, are hereby recognized and confirmed.” The state should not be involved. Counties, cities and water districts should regulate in high and low water years. In rural Utah, municipalities and water districts own and control the water shares for our areas. The state should help them create water sheds that will conserve our water. Utah currently uses about 44% of our allocation under the Colorado River compact. California uses 100%. We have “scarcity” because the Lower Basin is overusing. Utah should build more reservoirs. Water cycles in the Earth and is not scarce.

Watkins: Did not respond.

4. Yes or no: Do you support building the Lake Powell Pipeline?

Hansen: Yes

Watkins: Did not respond.

(Hansen campaign) Thomas Hansen

5. Triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, Utah’s current law bans nearly all abortions — except in instances of sexual crimes, when there is a fatal fetal abnormality or when the mother’s life is at risk. For now, that law is currently on hold in the courts and an 18-week ban is active in Utah.

More or fewer: Should Utah’s trigger law have more or fewer restrictions?

Hansen: I am pro-life. I believe in the sanctity of life. There are extenuating circumstances that must be considered. However, regret that two people had unprotected sex and became pregnant and don’t want the inconvenience of a child, should never be a reason for an abortion. Adoption should be the first option if circumstances prevent taking care of a child.

Watkins: Did not respond.

6. For or against: Are you voting for or against the constitutional amendment that removes the requirement that income taxes be used for education and social services?

Hansen: Against

I will be voting against changing the constitution to allow our legislature to spend like sailors our income taxes. In the last 10 years, the state budget has doubled from $15 to 30 billion. The state doesn’t need more freedom to spend your money. We need the constitutional restraint that says you either cut income taxes or spend it on education. I believe those are better uses of our tax dollars than legislators funneling money to expand government positions that they themselves take or their donors benefit from.

Watkins: Did not respond.

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