How the Dems trying to capture Brian King’s Utah House seat responded to questions about top issues

Jeff Howell and Hoang Nguyen will face off in the June 25 Democratic primary.

Two candidates are running to become House District 23′s Democratic nominee in the June 25 primary.

District 23 includes most of eastern Salt Lake City, including Yalecrest and a swath of Sugar House, and extends east into the mountains. The district’s incumbent, former House Minority Leader Brian King, was most recently reelected in 2022 and is this year’s Democratic nominee for governor.

Jeff Howell and Hoang Nguyen are the two Democratic hopefuls vying to face off against Republican Scott Romney and United Utah candidate Cabot Nelson in the fall.

The Salt Lake Tribune sent out six questions to 50 candidates across 23 races scheduled for June 25. The Tribune gave these candidates a deadline and word limit, and informed the candidates that their answers may be edited for clarity and length. Here’s how Howell and Nguyen responded to the questionnaire:

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?

Howell: Yes. One of the main issues I am focusing on during my campaign is lowering our carbon emissions and cleaning our air. Utah has some of the highest carbon emissions in the country, mainly due to our dependency on coal. If we don’t begin taking action now, the air pollution, especially in Salt Lake City, will only worsen. A family member of mine had to move out of Salt Lake City, a place she loved living, because the air pollution was simply too much for her asthma. I have been endorsed by O2 Utah, an incredible local nonprofit who is working to cut our carbon emissions in half by 2030 through meaningful year-over-year legislation, a plan they call Prosperity 2030. If I am elected, I would work with organizations such as O2 to look for more sustainable energy sources to reduce our carbon emissions and clean our air.

Nguyen: Our legislature should create policies that subsidize homeowners and car owners who install solar panels or drive hybrid/eco-friendly vehicles; create a production tax credit for new businesses using clean energy; and create an incentive tax credit to encourage current business owners to implement clean energy sources.

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

Howell: Yes.

Nguyen: Yes.

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?

Howell: Yes, I believe Utah should do more to subsidize homeowners to conserve water and require large users to pay more for water, but I also strongly believe in Representative Doug Owen’s Split Season Lease Project. He proposes that we compensate farmers for the water they have left over from maintaining their crops and allow them to have the same water allotment the following year, rather than decreasing their allotment because they didn’t need all of it the year before. This would discourage farmers from overwatering or otherwise wasting their leftover water out of fear that they will not get the same amount the following year. Ideas such as this are commonsense policies that will benefit all Utahns and provide opportunities for representatives to work in a bipartisan manner.

Nguyen: Yes, it is imperative for legislators, nongovernmental organizations and the community to collaborate synergistically in safeguarding Utah’s water. Subsidizing homeowners to conserve water is a great place to start. Additionally, subsidizing business owners who use green energy and renewable resources is an effective strategy because there are times businesses use more resources than homeowners. I support requiring large users to pay for more water during drought and low water-level years. At a state level, we need to invest in sustainable agriculture — Utah is a desert and sustainable agriculture will help regulate our water usage. I will advocate for our state to invest in spreading more awareness of the cost of climate change on people’s everyday lives. For example, one of the factors of why the cost of groceries have risen is due to climate change.

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

Howell: No.

Nguyen: No.

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?

Howell: Fewer.

Nguyen: Fewer.

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?

Howell: Against.

Nguyen: Against.

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