Three Republicans vie to upset a Democratic-held Utah Senate seat in 2024 GOP primary election

Senate District 15 candidates Steve Aste, Scott Cuthbertson and Amber Shill are competing for the Republican nomination in a potential swing district in Salt Lake County.

Three Republicans — Steve Aste, Scott Cuthbertson and Amber Shill — are competing for the party’s nomination and a chance to unseat Democratic State Sen. Kathleen Riebe in Senate District 15, which covers all or parts of Midvale, Cottonwood Heights, Sandy and Holladay.

Aste ran a general contracting company and currently owns a cleaning services company; Cuthbertson is the CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah; and Shill is the president of the Canyons School District Board of Education.

The Salt Lake Tribune submitted the same set of questions to each candidate asking about issues readers said were important to Utah. Their questions and answers that appear below — with the candidates listed in alphabetical order — may have been edited slightly for length, style or grammar.

Cuthbertson and Shill did not respond to The Tribune questions.

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 sources?

Steve Aste: Utah should always seek additional energy sources. We have the innovation and resources here to lead the world in this area. This does not mean however, that we should not also utilize our vast reserves of coal and natural gas. The truth of the matter is that alternative sources of energy do not provide adequate amounts of energy to power our cars, provide electricity or heat and cool our homes. Additionally, it should be noted that battery powered vehicles require a source of electricity to charge them, the primary source of electricity generation is derived from burning coal.

It is a false narrative to claim that we are saving the environment by using battery powered vehicles etc. when the facts tell a completely different story.

Cuthbertson: No response.

Shill: No response.

(Aste campaign) Steve Aste

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

Aste: No! The way this question is worded makes the false assertion that the climate change narrative is a proven and foregone conclusion. Since God created the Earth it has undergone change, sometimes in dramatic fashion. The man-made climate change that I believe you are referring to has been scientifically proven to be a false and intentionally misleading narrative.

Cuthbertson: No response.

Shill: No response.

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?

Aste: The Great Salt Lake water level is almost at the exact same level that it was 50 years ago (Source: Division of Natural Resources). My grandfather in the early 1900′s rode a horse from Salt Lake to Antelope Island because the Great Salt Lake water level was so low. In the 1980′s we had rivers flowing down the middle of our city streets and multi-million dollar pumps were installed to pump overflowing water from the Great Salt Lake out into the west desert for fear that downtown Salt Lake City would flood. The pumps were never used as the lake started a drying cycle.

In recent years the lake has been at very low levels, we were told that the brine shrimp are dying because of high salinity concentrations, the waterfowl habitat was disappearing and the lake dust was going to make us very sick or even kill us. The legislature even created a new bureaucracy, complete with a water commissioner and staff costing the taxpayer millions of dollars a year. The water level will go up and down and yet the bureaucracy will stay forever. We currently have an abundance of water (Source: Division of Natural Resources)

Tech companies use, by a large margin, the most water and should be charged more for their water use.

Cuthbertson: No response.

Shill: No response.

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

Aste: Yes, I support the pipeline with the provision that the future revenue from the water will be used to pay back the state. The Virgin river water basin simply cannot support the rapid growth in Southwest Utah. This pipeline will be held up for many years due to environmental concerns and the lawsuits that are certain to follow.

The Colorado River Compact is outdated and should be renegotiated to leave more of its water in Utah.

Cuthbertson: No response.

Shill: No response.

(Cuthbertson campaign) Scott Cuthbertson

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

Aste: Utah should have fewer trigger laws. Abortions should be avoided except in the most extreme of circumstances, such as when the life of the mother is in danger.

Cuthbertson: No response.

Shill: No response.

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? Explain why.

Aste: I would vote NO on this constitutional amendment. First, let it be noted that the legislature has already voted on this issue and it is now a proposition that will be placed on the ballot. I believe in fully funding our education system. In fact, I am in favor of providing more revenue to our schools. I do not support a taxation methodology that promotes the idea that if a certain tax is earmarked for a certain need (in this case education)is fully met then any excess monies can be allocated to different needs.

This is a slippery slope that must be avoided. This type of taxation is similar in nature to the omnibus bills that are pushed through congress, these bills are notorious for hiding the funding of programs that the taxpayer more often than not would adamantly disagree with. It opens the door for abuse by lawmakers and should not be implemented.

Just for the record, I am in favor of putting an end to all federal funding of education. Federal funding comes with too many strings attached, including social indoctrination programs that have no place in our children’s public education.

Cuthbertson: No response.

Shill: No response.

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