Utah is guaranteed a new leader next year in the state’s highest office after Gov. Gary Herbert departs from the seat he’s held for 10 years.

Utah Republicans voted in June to send Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to the Nov. 3 general election contest, where he will face University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson, the Democratic nominee.

The Salt Lake Tribune asked both candidates to fill out a comprehensive survey indicating their policy positions on a wide range of topics important to Utahns. Their answers, some of which have been edited for length, are included below. Candidates who have been eliminated from the race appear in black and white.




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THE CANDIDATES


JEFF BURNINGHAM

If elected, how many terms would you serve? Two

Age? 43

Where do you live? Provo

What’s your religious affiliation? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

What's your job? Business owner / entrepreneur / CEO

What’s your top campaign priority?My top priority will be leading the economic recovery in our state. We are only beginning to see the economic impact of coronavirus. It will take someone with experience in building the economy and creating jobs to put our state economy back on the right track and get Utahns back to work.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?Despite being shorter than typical college players, I was recruited to play college basketball out of high school.

TAXES - JEFF BURNINGHAM

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?I’m not open to changing the earmark unless education comes out even stronger in the end, which I think is a possibility though with a change. Another way to look at the earmark is as a “cap” on education funding, so I don’t necessarily like that. Especially in a down market, because we all know that the income tax is the most volatile tax we have and dependent on outside market forces. We have to ensure K-12 education has adequate funding, and more importantly, we need to ensure our taxpayer dollars get to the classrooms and are thus helping students and teachers and aren’t being wasted at the administrative level.

At what level do you think the state should tax food?I was a vocal opponent of the sales tax increase on food since the beginning. Tax on food hurts the poorest among us. I don’t think that fits Utah’s ethos. It’s not who we are. As governor, I would look for ways to bring it down to zero.

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?Taxing business inputs is bad policy and leads to tax pyramiding. Second, service taxes add additional burdens to small businesses. An across-the-board services tax would require thousands of Utah business owners to deal with the additional hassle, expense, and expertise required to collect and remit taxes to the state. Government should not impede the great entrepreneurs of this state and the dynamic economy the people of Utah have built that blesses the lives of so many in our great state!

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?We don’t have a revenue problem in this state, we have a spending problem... Before we look at taking more money from the people, we should first eliminate all unnecessary spending. As governor, I’ll do a top-to-bottom review of spending and cut waste everywhere I find it. And I’ll fight to give Utahns an automatic tax cut when the state runs a large budget surplus.

EDUCATION - JEFF BURNINGHAM

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?We need innovation in education. I’m open to the current system or a new one in which the governor appoints qualified individuals and the Senate confirms those appointments. Whatever serves the people of Utah better and ensures we make the essential progress we need on K-12 education.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) No. Accountability is important. Letter grades don’t tell the full story.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?We need to ensure our money is making it into the classroom, including increasing teacher pay. When the top staffers at the State Office of Education make almost six times as much as the average teacher, we have a problem. We need to be smarter with taxpayer dollars. As governor, I’ll fight overtesting that only increases bureaucracy in our schools, leading to less money for the classroom and teacher pay [and] I’ll fight for more autonomy for teachers.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Yes, but our primary goal should never be more spending. Our goal should be improved outcomes. That will be my focus. As governor, I’ll increase transparency in education spending so we can track every penny and every dime and maximize the value of every dollar spent.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?We need better transparency in all levels of education. I will fight to increase transparency so Utahns know where their education dollars are going. That said, I support the charter school model and the flexibility it gives schools to innovate and provide an education that meets students’ unique needs.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?Each child is unique and parents know their children’s education needs best. Education dollars should be focused on the student, not the system. I support more flexibility for parents to choose the education options that work best for their child.

HEALTH - JEFF BURNINGHAM

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?We have to destigmatize talking about mental health. Utah is currently ranked 48th in the nation for the number of mental health providers who serve youth. This is a failure of leadership. The governor has tools that can help bring more mental health providers to our state through programs like CONRAD30. I’ll also make sure we are streamlining the licensing process for mental health professionals that move here from other states.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? When government gets involved in health care, prices go up. We have some great innovation happening in the free market to address the high price of prescription drugs. Civica Rx is a Utah nonprofit that is providing lower cost, generic prescription drugs to combat shortages and high prices. I’ll fight for transparency in health care costs.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? Yes. The sanctity of life must be protected.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? I think it’s important we make medicinal cannabis available to Utah families that can benefit from it. My focus will be on ensuring our medical cannabis laws are working for patients.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain.  No.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.Obamacare has driven up the cost of health care for Americans, has been a major burden on small businesses, and has prevented innovation in the marketplace. I support all reasonable efforts to fully repeal this law.

GROWTH - JEFF BURNINGHAM

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?I’ll stand up against government programs that subsidize or place rent controls on housing. These kinds of programs disincentivize builders from increasing the supply of housing. As the supply of housing lags and demand grows, prices skyrocket. We need government to get out of the way, not insert itself into the free market.

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?There are many organizations doing great work on this issue, and as members of the community we should each do what we can to support them. We also need public-private partnerships so we can provide a hand up and help these people get back on their feet. We need more mental health providers so those who need help can get help as well.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? The Legislature has raised the gasoline tax over and over through the years to try to keep up with growth, but we can’t just continue raising the gas tax every time we run out of money. We need a smart plan to address transportation funding for the decades ahead and we need to embrace new technology that will help here also.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? I do not want to create an independent port authority that is given the power to dole out tax incentives to well-connected cronies. Any port authority we create should be transparent and accountable to the people of Utah, should not harm air quality and should not fill I-15 with trucks.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?Land and natural resources are the foundation of every economy. Our federal government makes it really difficult on a lot of counties in Utah by controlling, in some cases, more than 90% of the land. These counties need a fighter in their corner, I will be that fighter. I’ll stand side by side with our congressional delegation and make sure Utah gets an exemption from the Antiquities Act, just like Alaska and Wyoming already have. I’ll fight against unnecessary road and trail closures. The people closest to the land care about it the most and are the best people to manage it.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?We need public transportation that is smart, efficient, and doesn’t take twice as long as driving. And we also have to realize that a lot of Utahns prefer the independence of personal vehicles. The state can do things to reduce congestion on our roads, like allowing for more state employees to telecommute and encouraging Utah businesses to do the same.

EQUITY - JEFF BURNINGHAM

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?Women must be treated equally under the law. There are many laws that already exist to protect women’s rights but inequities still exist. We need cultural change in the way we view women’s roles in our society. No additional legislation can change this – we need to change our culture and we need a leader who will lead out by example in this regard

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?There are many qualified people in Utah of every race, gender, religious affiliation and ethnicity. I will seek qualified individuals of all backgrounds. I’d like to recruit and hire highly qualified women for at least half the positions in my Cabinet. I’ll encourage the good people serving on state boards and commissions to look outside their personal networks for new appointees.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps?I would be open to something like that.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?I have worked hard to hire qualified women to important positions throughout my life. The CEO of one of our three main businesses is a highly-qualified woman. I will continue to reach outside my network so women and minorities have opportunities to lead and I’ll encourage those in my Cabinet as well as my friends in the business community to do the same. Future leadership is shaped by current leaders’ decisions about who gets opportunities today. I’m committed to actively helping all Utahns prepare for future leadership opportunities.

Editor’s Note: In his original response, Burningham pointed to his decision to hire a female campaign manager. She has since shifted to working for Rep. John Curtis’ campaign.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - JEFF BURNINGHAM

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no)I believe humans are one of many factors in climate change. I do not support carbon-tax schemes to address climate change, because they do far more harm than good.

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?I will veto any carbon tax legislation that comes to my desk. Emissions are falling because our vehicles are becoming more efficient and cleaner, especially with Tier 3 fuels now available. The state government can help reduce emissions by letting more employees work from home most days. This could remove thousands of vehicles from the road. We need to empower entrepreneurs to come up with innovative solutions to air quality issues.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not?If the [return on investment] is there, yes. Utah has good coal and there is a lot of demand for this coal in other countries.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?Federal mismanagement of Utah’s public lands has allowed forests and rangelands to become overgrown, feeding massive wildfires that threaten our communities, wildlife, air quality and water supply. Their policies have also hurt local ranchers, recreationists, industry and rural communities. I will fight for local control of Utah’s land to curb wildfires, better protect Utah’s natural beauty and improve our rural economies.

I will fight to ensure the federal government keeps its promises when it comes to public lands in Utah. I’ll make sure we have a smart strategy so we’re not just throwing money away, but we need a governor who will stand up and lead this fight.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no)I have not been offered any campaign contributions by EnergySolutions. I am also not morally opposed to accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions. I will not allow political donations to impact my actions as governor.


SPENCER COX

If elected, how many terms would you serve? No more than two full terms.

Age? 44

Where do you live? Fairview

What’s your religious affiliation? I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What's your job? Father, farmer and lieutenant governor of the greatest state in the nation.

What’s your top campaign priority? Unleashing Utah’s education potential.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you? The first date I took Abby on was North Sanpete High’s Jr. Prom.

Running mate? State Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork

TAXES - SPENCER COX

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?The constitutional earmark on income tax revenue for education demonstrates a strong commitment to robust education funding. We should not remove the earmark or reduce our constitutional commitment to providing Utah students with the funding needed for a world-class education. I will preserve the existing earmark and will only consider altering it if broad consensus emerges around a plan that would improve Utah’s constitutional promise to fund public education. By strengthening the constitutional guarantee and continuing to grow our economy, we can recruit and retain the very best teachers at higher compensation levels without raising tax rates. This is my number one priority as governor.

Editor’s Note: After the legislative session ended, Cox revised his response to the following.

I support the compromise reached during the legislative session creating greater flexibility in state spending while committing to guaranteed funding for Utah’s schools. This solution was agreed to by the governor, Legislature, educators, state and local school boards and superintendents. The issue now goes to the voters of Utah on the November ballot as the proposal requires a change to the state constitution. While this is a good first step, additional enhancements to education funding are still needed.

At what level do you think the state should tax food?Thirty-two states don’t tax food, and Utah shouldn’t either. There are other ways to balance our budget that do not include taxing food or decreasing education funding.

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?Utah’s current tax system generates enough revenue to fund existing government services. While it is smart to regularly review the tax code to explore ways to streamline, reduce, or modernize Utah’s taxes, Utah does not need to expand taxes on service transactions. State leaders will need to be both creative and thoughtful as they adjust the budget now that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the state’s fiscal situation and anticipated revenues. Some belt tightening will be required.

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?I am a fiscal conservative who believes Utah can’t tax its way to prosperity. Taxes need to be as low as possible but still be able to fund the services needed for a dynamic, caring, and prosperous society. We should redesign our state tax code with an emphasis on reducing complexity and avoiding picking winners and losers. As governor, I will push for a limited, effective government that spends wisely and avoids overreaching and wasteful spending.

EDUCATION - SPENCER COX

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?Rather than empowering parents and allowing for transparency, the current system of education governance confuses and obfuscates education decision-making and accountability. Very few people know who their state school board member is or what they do. The current system also encourages well-intentioned but often conflicting and uncoordinated political interference from the Legislature. We need to reduce the politicization of education and bring real accountability to the education system by repealing state board elections and replacing them with a governor-appointed, Senate-confirmed board.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this response mentioned Cox’s support for Rep. Melissa Ballard’s legislation to replace state board elections with a governor-appointed board. The bill failed in the Legislature earlier this year.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) No. Over the past several decades, the actions of federal and state lawmakers, while well-intentioned, have resulted in a top-heavy approach to public education which often leaves our under-compensated teachers constrained by excessive mandates, assessments, and regulations. This top-down approach prevents educators from enacting innovative and creative approaches they know will improve student outcomes. This leads to disillusionment and discouragement. When teachers lose the joy of teaching, students are deprived of the joy of learning, and much of the fault lies with our own state policies that prioritize test scores over students.

Not only do I support the removal of school letter grading, but I also support the removal of high-stakes testing for Utah students.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?Today, Utah teacher salaries are among the lowest in the nation. Roughly 3,000 teachers leave the classroom each year. Nearly 50% of Utah teachers quit teaching within five years from when they started. A lack of quality teachers will inevitably lead to poor education outcomes.

As governor, I will work with the Legislature to put us on a path to pay Utah’s starting teachers $60,000. We cannot continue to expect our educators to work second jobs and pay for classroom expenses out of their own pockets.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?This is not the question we should be asking. I am more interested in improving student outcomes and in doing everything possible to prepare Utah’s kids for the future. Increased funding will play a key part in accomplishing that goal, but it is not the only or even the most important factor. We became the number one economy in the nation by cutting regulation and empowering entrepreneurs. We can become the top performing state in education by empowering teachers and reducing top-down mandates…. Likewise, principals need the authority and tools to both hire the best teachers – and fire bad teachers.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?As is the case with all government expenditures, transparency is key. It’s extremely disruptive for students, parents and teachers when a charter school closes. I support increased transparency in education spending for both district and charter schools. With today’s technology, it should be much easier to track how, where and why each dollar is used.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?The people of Utah have spoken clearly that they support our current system consisting of a strong public education that provides additional choices — charter, private, and homeschool. Our current model strikes a happy medium between allowing parents and students the choice to attend a private or charter school and the comfort of knowing their district school will be a safe and secure option. Further, vouchers would be detrimental to students and teachers in rural Utah. I’m willing to consider alternative funding mechanisms such as vouchers only after our public school system is adequately funded.

HEALTH - SPENCER COX

What do you think of the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic?Protecting public health, individual freedom and economic opportunity has been our state’s number one priority over the last several months.

I am proud of the thoughtful, decisive actions policy makers took during the chaotic and uncertain early days of the crisis. The extensive coordination that took place throughout every level of government helped us to find quick, meaningful solutions that have kept us safe. But more importantly, I’m grateful for the actions of citizens everywhere who have sacrificed to protect the health and safety of others, while also donating and volunteering to help those who are struggling economically. These difficult times have once again brought out the best of Utahns.

While there has been a recent increase in cases, overall, Utah remains in a very strong position compared to many other states in the nation. As Governor, I can assure you that Utah will focus first on the health and safety of its citizens, and lead the nation in our economic recovery efforts.

How would you guide the state into an economic recovery from the pandemic?I have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Governor Herbert over the past seven years, helping lead Utah to unprecedented economic strength. The Cox-Henderson administration will combine our collective experience to do it again.

First of all, we will continue to implement the Utah Leads Together plan and also implement the Cox-Henderson Self-Reliant Utah Plan, which looks beyond the immediate recovery and identifies steps to increase Utah’s long-term resiliency, prioritize in-state manufacturing and commerce, build essential supply chains and incentivize local business growth by cultivating an economic environment founded on low taxes and fewer regulations. As I have over the past several years, we will prioritize our work with Utah’s small business and tech leaders, agriculture community, civic groups, and local elected officials. Together, we will identify and cut unnecessary regulations, support smart infrastructure, unleash Utah’s education potential, boost rural Utah, and promote other pro-growth policies that will enhance Utah businesses’ ability to once again prosper.

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?One of my most important duties as lieutenant governor has been to co-chair the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Task Force. We have been working diligently for years to bring about meaningful change for those suffering with mental health challenges. Depression and suicide in Utah are more than a serious public health problem; it’s a tragedy that must continue to be addressed with the utmost attention.

Through our efforts, we have passed dozens of measures into law and dedicated millions in funding toward lifesaving resources. Utahns now have immediate access to experts through the SafeUT app and Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams, significantly more mental health professionals and school counselors, and better mental and behavioral health integration in our health care system. But there is much more to do.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? We can maintain a high quality of care while tackling the problem of rising health care costs through sound policy, collaborative partnerships with contemporary healthcare providers, and by working with manufacturers to make sure no one is ever again placed in a situation where they are priced out of access to lifesaving medications and measures.

As governor, I’ll support legislation that requires greater transparency regarding prescription drug prices, allow drugmakers to promote and market drugs off-label if the information consists of ''truthful promotion'' of a drug and support efforts to speed approval of cheaper generics.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? I have always tried to be a voice for the most vulnerable in our society, those facing intergenerational poverty, refugees, the LGBTQ community, our multicultural communities — and yes, the unborn. While I also believe we should do more to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and support single mothers, pregnant women and children facing poverty and trauma, I continue to be unapologetically pro-life. As such, I would support the state’s 18-week abortion ban in any judicial proceeding.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? No. Utah should continue to support the compromise that was passed ... to allow the responsible use of medical cannabis under the direction of licensed professionals

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. No. Life is precious.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.The Affordable Care Act centralizes power and money in the federal government in an alarming and unprecedented fashion and takes more health care decisions away from patients and doctors and places them in the hands of politicians and federal bureaucrats. I continue to have serious concerns about the law’s constitutionality and believe it should be challenged.

Regardless of what happens with litigation, we must focus on bringing overall health care costs down…. In the long-term, lower costs will do more to expand coverage than an unsustainable universal mandate.

GROWTH - SPENCER COX

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?Private sector attempts to find ways to reduce building costs should be supported. We also have a severe shortage in employees in the construction trades and need to ensure that students who want to pursue careers in construction have a viable pathway to those jobs. We should further explore and allow innovation in financing construction and home ownership. Finally, governmental decisions around zoning, building requirements and other fees and regulations often make housing much more expensive. And while many of these decisions must be left to local elected officials, the state can play a vital role in providing necessary infrastructure and coordinating regional planning necessary to increase density in strategic locations while maintaining the high quality of life that Utahns have come to expect.

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?I support appointing an administrator to coordinate state homeless policy in Utah. Our responsibility to the poorest among us is too great not to dedicate a full-time expert to advance communication between varying jurisdictions and proactively identify solutions.

Together, we must continue to develop and implement data-driven and compassionate policies that lend toward self-sufficiency, carefully invest our community resources, and ensure that systems and services are coordinated for their best use.

By pursuing the state’s new Strategic Plan on Homelessness, which includes a renewed focus on housing, better access to individualized casework and expanded treatment options, Utah will see our homeless population continue to decrease.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? Some projections estimate two million more residents in Utah by 2050. To meet the growing transportation needs that will accompany our growing population, I fully endorse the Wasatch Choice 2050 Vision. This plan was developed by a broad-based coalition of transportation experts, elected officials and citizens groups. It is comprehensive but also nimble enough to allow for the unique needs and circumstances of different communities.

I also support the Utah Department of Transportation efforts to determine potential alternatives to the gas tax (including the feasibility of a vehicle miles traveled approach to road funding). As technology and innovation lead to greater adoption of electric vehicles, electric vehicle users must also be investing in the infrastructure they benefit from. Protections must be provided to rural Utahns who have no choice but to drive farther distances on a regular basis.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? The inland port is critical to Utah’s continued economic success, both along the Wasatch Front and in rural Utah. That’s why it has been in Salt Lake City’s Master Plan since the 1970s. It will connect critical infrastructure throughout all of Utah, bridging our most rural economies to major ports in Seattle, Los Angeles and Oakland.

While I recognize some have concerns, there is really no reason for the inland port to be controversial. With improved representation for locally impacted entities and a commitment to renewable energy and sustainable resources, the inland port can be a model to the nation. In fact, an environmentally friendly inland port isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s necessary to attract capital investment in the modern economy. As governor, I will ensure Utah’s inland port is the most environmentally friendly port in the country.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?As the only candidate that lives off the Wasatch Front, this is personal. My dad always said our greatest export in rural Utah is our kids. It’s time that changed.

Rural Utah supplies critical resources to the entire state: water, energy, food and recreation. Just as I have visited all 248 cities in Utah, my administration will represent every community in Utah by installing an additional rural chief of staff and a geographically diverse Cabinet. We will continue to move jobs to rural Utah, expand the Rural Online Initiative utilizing teleworking technology, improve broadband access and empower and encourage rural entrepreneurs.

The prosperity of rural Utah will also help to alleviate growth pressures along the Wasatch Front and improve our air quality, transportation gridlock and housing affordability.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?Improving air quality, minimizing congestion, developing affordable and convenient mass transit and promoting alternative fuel options are my goals. While this may lead to a decreased dependence on personal vehicles, it is not a goal in and of itself.

Living in rural Utah, I know how vital personal vehicles are to the lifestyle and livelihood of those who live off the Wasatch Front. I will never use the power of government to take away people’s freedom, including their preferred means of transportation. However, I do believe government can play a role in encouraging market-based solutions, addressing externalities and facilitating choices. By focusing on the objectives above, we can clean our air and achieve the quality of life we all seek in our great state.

EQUITY - SPENCER COX

Do you think racism and bias are present in Utah's law enforcement agencies? What would you do as governor to answer calls for racial equity and for justice in cases of police brutality?What happened to George Floyd was a travesty. Police brutality, in any form, is never acceptable

The vast majority of law enforcement officers are caring, well-trained professionals who put their lives at risk to keep our communities safe. I know many of them personally, and I know their hearts. They deserve our thanks and appreciation. However, changes are important.

I support policies that would minimize and de-escalate conflict, improve collaboration and understanding. Specifically, I support a complete ban on knee and chokeholds, more transparency in cases of police misconduct, and enhanced oversight and training. However it would be a mistake to defund our public safety departments. Instead, we should be investing more in training and giving them the tools they need to bring out the best of law enforcement.

I will also continue to prioritize clear lines of communication from my office and Utah’s communities of color to ensure the most important voices on this issue are heard, and that open dialogue is always the norm.

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?Utah’s constitution has its own Equal Rights clause: “The rights of citizens of the State of Utah to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this State shall enjoy all civil, political and religious rights and privileges.” I support this language and firmly believe that men and women should be treated equally in Utah and throughout the United States. The national ERA, however, suffers a fatal flaw in that the time for states to ratify the amendment expired 40 years ago. Most legal scholars, (including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) recognize that the process would have to start again in Congress. Any new ERA should work to clarify lingering questions (including women in the draft, abortion impacts, etc.). Perhaps Utah’s constitutional language would be a good place to start.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?Senior government positions in my administration will be filled with the best, most qualified, and most committed individuals who share my vision of a conservative, civil and compassionate Utah. Utah’s government should be a model for the nation. To do that will require hiring individuals from all genders, races and backgrounds. My only quota will be to hire people who demonstrate the right character, qualifications and obvious passion for Utah. As an original board member of the Women’s Leadership Institute and the chairman of the Governor’s Multicultural Commission, I understand that oftentimes the best candidates must be sought out. I will work hard to make sure that we look to and encourage diverse applicants to join our administration. I am proud of the Herbert-Cox administration for its record number of women being appointed as judges, leading state agencies and as trusted members of senior staff.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps? Yes. I did this very thing with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. Ultimately, we did realize there was a discrepancy in one case, and rectified it immediately. I would require the same action for each state government agency during my first year as governor.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?The first thing the state can do is to lead by example, as I have done in the Lieutenant Governor's Office. As a board member of the Women’s Leadership Institute and the chairman of the Multicultural Commission, I have had the opportunity to work to increase representation of women and minorities in significant ways. Too often qualified women and minorities do not apply for positions because they feel unqualified or simply don’t know the opportunities exist. We must be intentional in seeking them out. Second, the lack of flexible work arrangements presents a significant challenge to women. I want Utah to become the leading “flex-state” in the nation in part to encourage and facilitate women and minorities participating in leadership roles. Lastly, evidence strongly suggests that more women and minorities can participate in the workforce if opportunities are available to help them develop leadership, increase their confidence and leverage their natural strengths.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - SPENCER COX

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no)Yes — but the solution is not destroying our economy or pushing unrealistic policy proposals that only serve to fire up political bases, divide communities and diminish our prosperity. Building consensus on sustainability policies requires leadership.

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?The truth is our air is cleaner today than at any time during our lifetime. In fact, overall emissions of all pollutants during inversion season declined 30.5% between 2011 and 2019. For the first time in almost two decades the Wasatch Front has been moved out of nonattainment designation by the EPA.

However, this does not mean we can or should stop improving our air quality. As nearly 50% of our emissions come from mobile sources, we need to aggressively promote Tier 3 fuel, expedite the transition of the state fleet to cleaner CNG, RNG or electric vehicles, and develop a fast-charge EV infrastructure statewide that is as accessible as gasoline.

During my four-year term, I will work to reduce overall emissions by an additional 25%.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not?Yes. Coal produced in Utah is among the cleanest coal produced in the entire world, and we must build the necessary infrastructure to export it efficiently to economies that still rely on coal in the United States and abroad. Not only is this in our economic interest, but the more coal that is produced in Utah and exported the healthier the environment will be across the globe. When these markets transition to renewable energy sources, such as natural gas, Utah will be ready to meet these needs as well.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?Yes, and I am pleased this action now has bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Utah Legislature. This issue has been the subject of controversy in our state for generations and should be put to rest once and for all.

As someone who farms just outside federal land, I know that Utahns love and appreciate their public lands more than anyone else. Current federal land policies and processes are often inefficient and dysfunctional. Today’s D.C.-based, top-down management approach fails to adequately reflect the views and input of Utahns, and that should change.

Public lands are part of what makes Utah different. It’s part of our heritage. As governor, I will work with our federal partners to promote land management policies that allow for greater state management opportunities to ensure Utah’s lands are managed responsibly and that all stakeholders in Utah are considered fairly.Editor’s note: The assertion about bipartisan support for a federal lawsuit rests on House Minority Leader Brian King’s backing of this move. But King told The Tribune that he is confident that Utah will lose the lawsuit and he believes that may hasten an end to the long-running push to put federal public lands under state control.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) No.


JAN GARBETT

If elected, how many terms would you serve? No more than two

Age? 64

Where do you live? Salt Lake City

What’s your religious affiliation? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What's your job? Founder of Garbett Homes.

What’s your top campaign priority?Prepare us for the next pandemic or earthquake. Make health care accessible. That is why I’ve chosen Dr. Joseph Jarvis, a public health care professional, to run with me as my lieutenant governor.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?It is possible for me to win the primary on June 30th. I invite all voters to join with me.

TAXES - JAN GARBETT

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?No. In the face of economic uncertainty let's keep the funding guarantee which helped to protect the schools in the great recession. Utah is last in the nation in per pupil funding. We still have a long way to go to be where we are not shortchanging our children’s education.

At what level do you think the state should tax food? The sales tax on food should not be increased.

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which? I am not in favor of taxing services

Editor’s Note: In late March, Garbett changed her answer to the following.

All of them. Real time. Perhaps technology could allow taxes to be generated and collected real time.

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?We are shortchanging future generations by not levying a severance tax that is comparable with surrounding states. Those natural resources that are extracted and the income that is then taken out of the state should be shared with future generations and used for their benefit. Once removed it is gone forever. We have allowed big mining and drilling interests to do this for too long.

I would also like to explore instituting a carbon tax in conjunction with our neighboring states. This tax should include a dividend, so families are held harmless (i.e. they receive money back) and instead we shift away from polluting activities.

Finally, the state should explore legalizing marijuana and taxing it heavily to pay for public services.

Editor’s Note: Garbett later rescinded the last sentence on taxing marijuana.

EDUCATION - JAN GARBETT

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?I support state Rep. [Melissa] Ballard’s idea that we should have a task force study whether it would be better to appoint this board.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) Maybe (only if it improves outcomes for our kids).

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?1. Competitive pay. As a business owner I understand that is critical. If you don’t pay someone what they feel they are worth they will leave. 2. Work to change our way of viewing the value of teachers. Other countries have been successful in raising the status of this profession. We can do it too.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Yes, increase funding per pupil by 50% through a combination of budget reallocation and tax reform.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight? It is important that we have an effective way of evaluating all our schools.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?No. The voters have spoken on this. I believe we should listen to voters on initiatives.

HEALTH - JAN GARBETT

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?1. We should use all the funding and resources available even if it involves the federal government 2. Work to change perceptions of mental illness so families feel comfortable in seeking help. 3. Be compassionate and civil in our conversations and interactions.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? The example of Civica RX is a model for reducing drug costs. Yet it is part of a larger problem. States are better positioned to direct tax money and oversee medical care for all their people rather than the federal government.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? Yes. HB136 allows abortions past 18 weeks for reasonable exceptions such as saving the life of the mother, if serious medical conditions are diagnosed in the fetus, or in cases of rape or incest. But at the same time balances the right to life for the fetus.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? Yes. It is not financially and economically worth the struggle to fight illegal marijuana use. Instead, we should treat it like we do alcohol and permit limited distribution. We can generate significant taxes to pay for our needs instead of spending money on this substance to incarcerate people. Like alcohol, it is not necessarily good for your health but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal for recreational use. I would not recommend the use of marijuana but that is up to each adult to decide, not the government.

Editor’s Note: In late March, Garbett changed her answer to state her opposition to legalizing recreational marjuana.

I would not lead this charge. Like underage drinking we need to understand and evaluate scientifically the of such on the younger population

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. Yes. But there would need to be stringent safeguards and processes put in place to make sure that the process was always performed in the most ethical manner. I believe in people’s right to choose.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.No. Our efforts should be in helping people get medical care, not making it more difficult.

GROWTH - JAN GARBETT

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?One, we should loosen rules and restrictions on building that force home prices up. Two, we should provide state funding for incentives and construction specifically to build housing that the poorest can afford.

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?One, by increasing the supply of homes and apartments that the poorest can afford, as I discuss above. Two, by funding programs to provide vulnerable populations with housing – programs pioneered in Utah that are effective at getting the chronically homeless off the street. And three, improving our support for the new homeless resource centers – we still have not fully funded these.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? User fees.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? Differently than what we are doing. As a Republican, I don’t believe that we should ignore the will of local people and I am skeptical of public subsidies for private industry. The Legislature’s plan here violates both of these tenets.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?1. Continue promoting tourism. This brings $1.5 billion tax revenue to the state. Half goes to rural areas. Protect the goose that lays the golden eggs. 2. Instead of using incentives on out-of-state companies to come to Utah, use that money to help local businesses develop. 3. Partner with organizations like Silicon Slopes to bring the work-at-home industries to rural Utah.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?We need to start with a better statewide transportation plan that evaluates transportation on its lifetime costs — we typically promote the most expensive transportation solutions — and that gives protecting our airshed higher weight than whether cars can drive 80 mph for the longest distance possible. We should also use the opportunity of a second Olympics bid to develop significant new public transit infrastructure.

EQUITY - JAN GARBETT

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?The language in Utah’s own constitution on equal rights should be a model for the nation.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?1. Elect a woman governor. 2. New leadership in our government.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps? Absolutely

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?1. As Utah’s first elected woman governor I would not tolerate those that have those outdated prejudices. 2. Not do business with those that have such barriers. 3. Set an example that others will want to follow when they see our success.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - JAN GARBETT

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no) Yes

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?First, we must start with a faster version of the Utah Roadmap and reduce air pollution by at least 50% — by 2026 — and at least an 80% reduction in carbon emissions — by 2030. Our polluted airshed is a crisis, killing Utahns early and hurting our economy. We have to treat it like the serious problem it is and involve my administration and resources in solving this problem — not keep fooling ourselves that it can be addressed through voluntary action alone. Second, we must commit to hosting a carbon-free Winter Olympics, it will make our bid for a second games very strong and will showcase the “Utah Way.” And, third, we should adopt the carbon reduction policies of our most aggressive cities for our state-owned facilities and fleets – it will save taxpayer money and let us lead by example.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not? No. As a Republican, I don’t believe in this sort of market intervention. An effective government shouldn’t pick winners and losers. However, I think the state should help our transitioning rural economies with assistance and education so we do not leave people out in the cold.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?No, for three reasons. One, we couldn’t afford to take over these lands; our state’s own study says so. Two, every reputable legal scholar says that we stand no chance – we have better uses of our citizens’ hard-earned money than lawsuits that won’t succeed. And three, we promised at statehood that we would never do this. I think we should keep our word.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) No


GREG HUGHES

If elected, how many terms would you serve? That’s up to the voters to decide.

Age? 50

Where do you live? Draper

What’s your religious affiliation? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What's your job? Small business owner in real estate, property management.

What’s your top campaign priority?Creating an expectation among the electorate that the job ahead won’t be easy and hard work will be required.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?I have plates in both legs and a total of 21 screws holding them together. I was confined to a wheelchair for a year as a teenager BEFORE the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. That meant there were no ramps to be found anywhere and doorways were too narrow! I will forever notice and appreciate ramps and wide doorways.

Running mate? Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson

TAXES - GREG HUGHES

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?I support as much budget flexibility and structural parity as possible. Earmarking has been a Washington, D.C., favorite practice that usually has not served this nation well. I could be supportive of this effort, but it isn’t a big priority for me.

At what level do you think the state should tax food?I was part of the previous tax reform effort that cut $400 million in taxes and removed [most of] the state sales tax from food.

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?No. I have yet to see a proposal that could be implemented practically or politically. We will kill economic growth by taxing professional services which are business inputs.

It is true that we spend more on services today than we used to. As this trend continues the governor must lead a very public and broad conversation highlighting the fact that our state doesn’t print money and we balance our budget. That reality means that we cannot be all things to all people. We must identify our greatest priorities and build the budget accordingly.

Identifying and cutting waste, continually scrutinizing our tax structure to ensure it is fair and seeking ways to broaden the base and lower rates is the charge of lawmakers and the governor. It is difficult and necessary.

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?I won’t be looking for alternative revenue streams, which is a nicer way of saying creating new taxes. My administration will focus on creating and growing economic opportunities throughout the entire state. Historic infrastructure investment of roads, rail, water, etc. outside of the Wasatch Front is the only way to sustain the population growth, economic success and quality of life of our state. The lion’s share of Utah’s growth in population, jobs, housing, and traffic cannot continue to be hyper focused within a 130-mile valley of four counties. Most counties in Utah have not experienced economic growth and opportunity. In 2020, the issues confronting those that live along the Wasatch Front align perfectly with the issues of those living in the rest of the state. We need each other like never before.

EDUCATION - GREG HUGHES

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?I support the current process. However, I’d be open to looking at a model similar to how the members of the Board of Regents are appointed.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no)  Yes.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?Focus on growing the economy to increase funding while ensuring that funding is prioritized for teachers and classrooms. Allow for more technology and innovation in schools that will lead to more personalized learning for students and efficiency for teachers — but deploying it at a pace that is not overwhelming for our teachers.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Education funding is obviously critical. You cannot deliver education and prepare our future workforce without adequate funding.

However, it cannot be the way we measure quality in education. Year over year academic growth and proficiency or mastery of curriculum are what we must prioritize, measure and rank. We cannot afford to ignore HOW we spend tax dollars. We must demand from ourselves that our students be prepared to meet the challenges of a future workforce, economy and community. Staring only at a vague dollar per student ratio sadly ignores or confuses the real responsibilities and obligations of our public education system.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?I am a strong supporter and advocate of our public charter school system. As with any area of government and public policy, I believe we should always look for and demand greater efficiencies and transparency. I support the legislation sponsored in this year’s General Session by Rep. Jeff Moss and Sen. Dan McCay.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?I’m proud to have been the sponsor of the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship legislation and support vouchers and/or tuition tax credits for special needs students. It has been incredibly successful for children with autism and their families as well as keeping special education budgets in public schools stronger by not spreading finite resources too thin.

Opportunities for individualized education for students is needed and more viable today than ever before.

HEALTH - GREG HUGHES

What do you think of the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic?I supported the initial two-week recommendation in early March to stay home to slow the spread, so long as it was voluntary and had an end date.

But it wasn’t just two weeks. It took until mid-April for an economic plan that set a May 1st date for a partial reopening. It was too little too late.

It became clear that the executive branch had no qualms about infringing on our civil liberties and forcing the destruction of our economy.

Our smartphones were turned into surveillance devices. Local governments were allowed to deprive residents and businesses of their liberty and property without due process. Snitch lines were created to tell on neighbors exercising their rights. Churches were mandated to close, and then government dictated the terms of their reopening.

Government actions destroyed the economy in less than a month.

As governor, in the first legislative session, I will propose legislation to modify Utah’s state of emergency statutes to explicitly protect each of our constitutional rights — even in an emergency.

How would you guide the state into an economic recovery from the pandemic?First, we must open up the economy immediately and let Utahns get back to work.

Moving forward we must provide good information related to public health and educate high-risk populations of the risks of the virus, but we also must trust Utahns to make good decisions.

We need to change statutes to protect against future unconstitutional shutdowns and make it clear that the government that stopped this economy can’t do it again. Providing certainty to businesses, employees and consumers will lead to investments and economic activity.

We must also resist the urge to take federal funds that come with strings attached, burdensome regulations and have the potential to lock the state into budget busting programs.

Finally, we need to invest in statewide infrastructure to allow for economic opportunity throughout this entire state including water, roads, fiber, rail and a system of inland ports. Once the economy recovers and grows, we need to limit government spending and then cut taxes.

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?I would continue to look to the leadership of stakeholders and public servants like Rep. Steve Eliason, who has been at the forefront of this issue. Acknowledging the crisis is happening, efforts to provide help and support is growing but we have a long way to go. The governor’s bully pulpit and unique relationship with the public at large can create a conversation that needs to happen. It can be uncomfortable and difficult to talk about sensitive issues like this. As governor, we will have this conversation.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? A vial of insulin can cost $300 or more WITH health insurance. More than a single vial is needed for people with diabetes. The prohibitive cost can ruin lives and even be deadly. Insulin was patented in the 1920s. There aren’t any research and development costs to pay off at this point so why is it so expensive?

I’ve heard many excuses but the answer to burdensome drug costs can be answered by what we do about the ridiculous cost of insulin. As governor I would start by declaring that we will make this lifesaving drug available and affordable to everyone and reverse engineer from there.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? Yes. I am unapologetically pro-life. Nationally, the issue has not been settled on any front. The definition of a human life continues to be blurred. The definition of a late term abortion has gone as far as outside of a mother’s womb. This is tragic. Protecting the sanctity of life cannot be diminished and demeaned as nothing more than prejudice and misogyny. It is time to have this issue revisited.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? No. While I support Utah’s medicinal cannabis program, I don’t support recreational use of marijuana. I would not support any attempts to legalize any medicine for recreational use. Opioids come to mind. The entire premise behind the efforts to legalize medical cannabis was that it has a legitimate medicinal value and was not simply a ruse to legalize recreational use. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana after the passage of a medical cannabis law would prove the critics and opponents of medical cannabis right.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. No. The sanctity of life always applies. The idea that making it legally possible or easier to terminate human lives makes society more compassionate is a farce.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.Yes. Obamacare is not only unconstitutional; it has made health care less affordable and less accessible to the American public at large. Even the Democratic presidential candidates acknowledge that ACA is a failure.

Editor’s Note: While Sen. Bernie Sanders has said the ACA doesn't go far enough, he’s defended it against rollback attempts by the Trump administration. Former Vice President Joe Biden calls Obamacare a “victory” and has said he wants to build on it.

GROWTH - GREG HUGHES

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?There is affordable housing in the state of Utah.

If you are referring to the Wasatch Front, it boils down to a supply and demand problem. Supply doesn’t meet the demand, so the cost of housing goes up. As economic opportunities are realized more broadly across the state, housing will be available and more affordable. Supply of housing can and will be met if we stop focusing exclusively on a small geographic area of the state.

In the meantime, in this 130-mile-long valley, we need to encourage the development of housing adjacent to major transportation hubs of freeways and rail transportation. The development of housing and higher density housing in the interior of communities contributes to existing traffic congestion and lower quality of life issues. It is why housing projects are being denied by city councils and citizen protests continue to grow louder.

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?Utah has embraced a new model of individualized attention, providing specific resources related to a person’s circumstances. Resource centers have replaced shelters. It is no longer good enough to provide food and shelter. Utah, as a state, counties, cities, service providers and a people are looking to lift people up to become self-reliant. This model and the greater focus on individual needs has the added benefit of fending off the criminal element and those that seek to prey upon vulnerable people. The wolves don’t want to be known or understood so they leave. The ACLU may not agree but people experiencing homelessness are entitled to the same level of public safety and social order that the rest of us have come to expect. Law enforcement has done more to protect people and provide outreach to those in need than anyone will ever know.

We cannot warehouse people like every large city in America is trying to do. It’s inhumane.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? Grow tax revenue through increased and even unprecedented economic growth.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? The inland port isn’t an area. The inland port will be a system of U.S. Customs bonded ports throughout our state. This will allow Utah to be a link in the global supply chain. Coastal and inland ports located in the Eastern United States, as well as globally, see economic growth for importers, exporters, the expansion/new development of manufacturing and their suppliers as well as a stronger overall economy for an entire region.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad brought historic economic opportunities and changed Utah forever. Taking full advantage of Utah’s unique rail infrastructure that reaches every port along the West Coast with a system of inland ports will be the most significant infrastructure and economic development project since the original railroad was completed 150 years ago.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?See above. The inland port system with increased infrastructure investments.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?We need as many multimodal transportation options as possible for Utahns.

EQUITY - GREG HUGHES

Do you think racism and bias are present in Utah's law enforcement agencies? What would you do as governor to answer calls for racial equity and for justice in cases of police brutality?I believe that the majority of the men and women in law enforcement are good people that serve and protect our community. We must remember that they are the good guys while we work to make improvements that are better for all citizens.

What happened to George Floyd should never happen again. There is a human decency aspect to how we should treat people. The officer who murdered George Floyd ignored and violated existing policies. Unfortunately, rules and laws are followed by the lawful, but they are ignored by the lawless.

There are things that we must learn from this incident and improvements that must be made. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • •Implement ‘see and report’ policies requiring that officers intervene or report if they witness civil rights or excessive use of force violations.
  • •Improve policies related to officers that have patterns of repeated use of force violations.
  • •Increase bias, sensitivity and de-escalation trainings.
  • •Faster adjudication of internal affairs cases.
  • •Increase outreach into the communities they represent.

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?No. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known for her legal advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality before being appointed to the bench, has said the backers of the ERA. must start over if they want to amend the Constitution.

It means that instead of finding common ground on public policies that would treat everyone in a fair and equitable way regardless of gender, we’ll end up talking past each other by debating if states can ratify 30 years after the deadline or if states that did ratify but subsequently rescinded their ratification would still count.

It becomes political rather than substantive and it prevents us from finding common ground.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?I plan to appoint the most qualified candidates for all positions. As a small business owner and public servant, I have always hired or appointed from a pool of qualified candidates. No one was cut from the same cloth and there was never a need to insert identity politics into the process. Diversity for diversity’s sake alone divides people, it doesn’t unite.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps?Salaries should be commensurate with qualifications, experience and performance. Gender, race, religion or anything else not described above would be unacceptable and remedied.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?Barriers will come down the way they always have in America. When we stop seeing each other as categories and see each other as people. Identity politics creates categories and that keeps the barriers up.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - GREG HUGHES

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no)No. “Human-caused” would suggest that absent any humans, the climate wouldn’t change. That is not the case. Can we be good stewards of the environment and adopt practices that prevent harming the environment? Of course. It isn’t a theory, it’s what we are doing now and what we must continue doing.

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?We incentivized, through tax incentives, refiners to produce Tier 3 fuel. It has now arrived on the market and with autos [manufactured from] 2017 and forward, it has the [same] effect [as] removing four out of five cars off the road, or an 80% reduction of tailpipe emissions. We need to do more of that. Lower sulphur levels in the fuel results in lower emissions, which we should encourage and prioritize.

Long term, the state’s population growth cannot occur solely along the Wasatch Front. We will not be able to keep pace.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not? Yes. Getting Utah’s low sulphur coal to foreign markets, where coal-fired power plants have no plans to shut down and where some are currently being built, provides for lower emissions in other parts of the world. Utah’s coal has less sulphur than coal from Australia and Indonesia. Lower sulphur, less emissions. Less emissions, cleaner air. Coal exported from Utah will have a positive impact wherever it is used and will strengthen Utah’s economy.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?Yes. The transfer of federal land to a state management plan is essential for the state to truly protect the public purpose and ensure public access. The management of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands gives us a glimpse of the potential we have to preserve public access, create revenue for our public schools and work with government and the private sector to provide solutions for water, transportation and fiber infrastructure and economic growth. Utah is penned in and unable to grow responsibly with over 67% of the land under federal control. Some rural counties try to survive with 80-90%+ being federal lands with no access or tax base.

The transfer of federal land to state management cannot happen overnight. It would require the Supreme Court to rule that land transfer must resume as it once did for the states east of Utah and Congress would then have to pass legislation putting that process together.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) Yes.


JON HUNTSMAN

If elected, how many terms would you serve? Two

Age? 60

Where do you live? Salt Lake City

What’s your religious affiliation? Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What's your job? Most recently, I served as United States ambassador to Russia. I also serve as a trustee of the Huntsman Foundation.

What’s your top campaign priority?Long known as the Crossroads of the West, Utah is primed to become the Crossroads of the World. In order for Utah to continue to prosper, we must address the most pressing issues of the next decade. Our remarkable growth brings challenges and opportunities related to transportation, air quality, education and long-term business prosperity. We have to empower Utah’s rural communities through tailored workforce training and programming to help diversify local economies and continue to build on Utah’s entrepreneurial spirit. And we must declare war on the insidious epidemic of mental illness that is destroying our families and our communities.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?I hate politics. What I love is problem solving, providing leadership and being able to make a difference for our state.

Running mate? Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi

TAXES - JON HUNTSMAN

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?The removal of the constitutional earmark is not going to happen — as I’ve gone around speaking to Utahns I’m clear that there is no appetite for a constitutional amendment that would change this structure.

Our state has established income tax as the revenue source to support public education and the people of Utah are rightly hesitant to remove that safeguard. … It is critical that we maintain a dedicated source of revenue for education.

Utahns want an education system that prepares students to succeed. They want teachers who can use their talents to inspire students. They want manageable class sizes where kids don’t get lost in the crowd. The argument to eliminate the protected funding source to provide those things would have to be far more compelling than it has been presented thus far.

At what level do you think the state should tax food?A sales tax on food is the most regressive tax we have because the higher-income households spend a smaller portion of their income on food than lower-income households do. Everyone has to buy food regardless of their income. While serving as governor in 2007, we accomplished historic tax reform that cut the food tax to 1.75%. My only regret is that we didn’t eliminate it completely. There are better ways to ensure sufficient revenue for state expenditures than to levy a tax on food.

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?As a believer in free-market principles, I embrace the concept that we should always look to lower tax rates and broaden the tax base. The government should collect the smallest amount of tax possible to provide essential public services.

We also need to adapt to a rapidly evolving economy that has consumer behavior trending away from the products we currently tax while trending toward services we do not. Taxing more services may be the right way to go with the caveat that we want to avoid taxing business inputs. As we have learned just this year, public input and support must run in parallel with any changes to sales tax, particularly as it pertains to services.

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?Already, we have taken some steps to collect tax for online sales. That’s an important step in the right direction as consumers are increasingly opting to buy products online instead of in brick-and-mortar stores. We need to continue to evolve as the marketplace does.

With the dynamic nature of our economy, we should always look for ways to ensure Utah’s government has the necessary funding and plan for a rainy day. In a market economy, industries will change, some may become obsolete while new ones will emerge. It would be unwise to have an inflexible tax code, incapable of adapting to changing circumstances.

EDUCATION - JON HUNTSMAN

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?State school board members should be elected in nonpartisan races. Education should be about student success, not about partisan fighting. I am in favor of maximizing the connection between parents and those making education policy.

The best education system is the one that keeps governance closest to the people. The principal role of the state board of education should consist of three things: 1) Federal relations — ensuring compliance with federal standards and dispersing federal funds as directed by law as appropriate for Utah; 2) Standards but not curriculum — establishing education standards to be met by local school boards and schools across the state; and 3) Equality — ensuring every student in our state has equal access to a quality education that prepares him or her to be a good citizen, a productive worker and a lifelong learner.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) This question is far more complex than a simple yes or no response. Accountability matters but a dashboard of how schools score in various key metrics is perhaps a better way to go.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?What I hear from teachers and school administrators as I travel the state is that they want to be treated like the professional educators they are. They want ongoing professional development, they want the flexibility to utilize their skills to benefit their students and they want to be fairly compensated. We need to do a better job in all three respects — especially regarding teacher pay, which is most directly responsible for our loss of talent.

Organizations like Envision Utah have done important work on how to address this challenge that should be given serious consideration. As governor, I will work with Utah’s educators to regularly monitor their job satisfaction and retention and move quickly to address issues as they arise

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Our focus is on student success. The goal should not be based on the input, rather it should be based on the outcome. While our per-student spending is low compared to other states, we are fifth-highest in the nation when it comes to the percentage of our state funds dedicated to education. Utah students perform very well as our educators have always done more with less. Over the past 15 years, we have safeguarded education funding in challenging economic times and increased funding when the economy has grown. Education funding will be a top priority of my administration — not because of a desire to move up the list of top spenders, but to ensure our students are ready to compete in the global marketplace and live prosperous lives.

Editor’s Note: In fiscal 2019, Utah was the seventh-highest in the nation when it comes to the percentage of state funds dedicated to K-12 education, according to the National Association of State Budget Auditors. The same source shows that Utah was consistently ranked No. 1 in the nation for percentage of education spending in the 1980s and 1990s, dedicating more than 30% to public schools. Since 2000 it has spent closer to 25% on education and has never ranked higher than No. 4.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?Without question, charter schools need oversight because they use public funds. They should be completely transparent with and accountable to both the charter school board and ultimately the Utah State Board of Education for how those funds are spent and how the students perform. They should report regularly on their accreditation status and be evaluated on their retention status, scores on statewide assessments and post-secondary education rates.

There have been some unfortunate developments in our relatively short history with charter schools closing and revealing some serious financial mismanagement. We must learn from earlier mistakes and engage in continuous improvement and set a course that first and foremost addresses the needs of the student.

Now that charter schools have been a part of our public school system for a decade and a half, we should evaluate the elements that have made the best-performing charter schools succeed and learn from what has caused others to struggle.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?The people of our state have made their position clear on vouchers, and we have to respect the will of the people. Nevertheless, the principle of expanding choice in education is one I feel strongly about. We have found success in using specialized scholarships, like the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship, which my administration implemented in 2005 to benefit students with special needs by making them eligible to receive private school vouchers of variable amounts.

As a dad of seven kids, one thing has become very clear to me: all kids learn differently. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all model that maximizes the remarkable potential inherent in each of our children…. More parent choice adds an incentive for schools to be innovative in how they teach and it helps students by providing a better chance of finding the right fit for their learning styles.

HEALTH - JON HUNTSMAN

What do you think of the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic? This has been a significant challenge for the state, for which it was unprepared, and there have been problems throughout the response. My personal experiences with the process showed, even many months into it, that there were areas for improvement. In my own personal experience, I had a test for which I was given incorrect results, the test itself was compromised and invalidated by the state lab, this required a new test which ultimately came back positive.

This process was unnerving for me, my family and all those we were in contact with. This unique perspective into the experiences of Utahns — those who have had the virus and those who have been tested for it — has heightened my concern for the process and the communication lines.

But aside from the devastating health impacts on our community, I fear we are only beginning to see the economic impact. With nearly one in 10 Utahns out of work, I continue to be disappointed that the state did not act more proactively to help businesses keep employees on their payroll. We will need an aggressive and forward-looking plan to take the state not only back to where we were economically but to propel us forward, which is what I am offering.

How would you guide the state into an economic recovery from the pandemic?The biggest mistake we can make right now is to think small. Our immediate efforts must be aimed at getting the economy back in motion and getting people back to work.

The impact of COVID-19 has changed a lot about what the immediate future looks like for our state. Whoever is in the Governor’s Office in 2021 will — at best — inherit a recovering economy. Getting our economy back up and running is no small task; this is no time for on-the-job training in the Governor’s Office. My immediate recovery plan includes:

  • •Leverage existing capital and bring fresh resources to our market
  • •Fortify existing Utah companies to avoid insolvency
  • •Create open-for-business environment
  • •Accelerate training for Utah workers
  • •Suspend burdensome regulations

The road ahead is challenging and Utah needs a bold vision that aims to do more than just get us “back to normal.” In the coming years, Utah can create new businesses and products while attracting investment looking for the best place to grow. What’s in it for Utahns? More than doubling our state’s GDP [gross domestic product] from $180 billion to $500 billion, higher-paying jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities, and successful careers for our children and grandchildren.

Our state’s potential is unlimited. By seizing opportunities in three emerging economic sectors: biotechnology, defense technology and financial technology we can improve the lives of people across our state.

Biotechnology
Utah is positioned to become a global leader in the biotechnology sector. Our universities lead the nation in converting their research and technology into businesses and products, but there is so much more we can do. By building the biotech industry, we can strengthen our economy while playing an essential role in preventing future pandemics.

Defense Technology
The talent flowing in and out of Utah’s military installations is a significantly underutilized resource. Utah is primed to lead in developing defense technology including cybersecurity, quantum computing, neuro-synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, microsatellites and other next-generation warfare.

This initiative will require a thoughtful strategy and skilled diplomacy to bring together the federal government and private industry. Utah must play a more substantive role in this industry to benefit the areas near our key military installations and the entire state.

Financial Technology
Capital is the lifeblood of any economy — and it’s a coward. We should seek to make Utah the ultimate safe-haven destination for this sensitive industry. As our economy has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, banks are tightening lending standards and investment capital is looking for a secure place to land.

Under my plan, we will create an ecosystem of investors, financial institutions, professional services firms, policymakers and technological innovators committed to making Utah a global leader.

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?Despite all good intentions, we have had a statewide failure on mental health. We are losing far too many of our people — especially our young people — to suicide, and far too many people battle mental illness without the support they need. The impact of economic hardship as a result of COVID-19 will be better understood in the coming months and will further highlight the importance of this issue.

No one running for governor is a mental health expert by trade, so the next person to hold our state’s highest office must convene and empower health care experts, the businesses community, faith groups and all other stakeholders to identify and implement the right solutions. There must be a statewide call to arms in order for us to be truly effective.… As governor, I will use every resource available to declare war on this insidious problem.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? High drug costs are a result of a broken health care system desperately in need of reform. Here in Utah, Rep. Norm Thurston is doing great work to address the high cost of insulin, in particular.

Utah is one of the nation's most advanced states in medical sciences yet far too many Utahns cannot afford adequate health care. Since the implementation and subsequent partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Utahns have made it clear that they expect access to quality health care at an affordable price with a safety net for those living near and below the poverty line. Making that a reality will require state-level innovation.

We need to introduce free-market principles to health care. We need to utilize technology to connect groups of people and allow them to benefit from their combined purchasing power. And we need to transform the fundamental incentive structure to allow people to see the cost of medical services and make informed purchasing decisions that ultimately drive down cost.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? Life is precious. During my time as governor, I supported and signed every pro-life bill that was passed by the Legislature.

As a father of two adopted children, I have seen firsthand the results of connecting a loving family with a child who was born into challenging circumstances. I strongly believe in the sanctity of life and I would uphold the current state law regarding abortion.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? Substance abuse is a significant detriment to our society. I do not support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, however, I am encouraged by steps the state has taken to legalize medicinal marijuana. As governor, I will work with the Legislature and health care experts to improve our medicinal cannabis system to ensure access to beneficial products while encouraging the federal government to allow for greater scientific testing of the benefits and potential hazards of these substances.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. Just over two years ago, I watched as my father passed through his final, painful months of life. Anyone who has gone through a similar situation knows it is not easy to see someone you love suffer. Fortunately, doctors have various methods for managing the pain of a terminally ill patient. I oppose policies that put our medical professionals in a position to potentially violate their Hippocratic oath to do no harm. We should do everything we can to alleviate suffering while respecting the sanctity of life.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.Unfortunately, states continue to have to fight back against federal overreach. Utah has joined 19 other states in this effort. With regard to health care, it is more important that our state’s next governor leads the effort to curb rising health care costs.

In 2008, my administration spearheaded and passed comprehensive, market-based health care reform. While other states relied on government control and individual mandates, we delivered reforms that give consumers freedom to choose and negotiate their own coverage in a competitive marketplace.

That was the right approach then and it still is today. States should lead on health care reform. There are steps we can take, even with elements of the Affordable Care Act in place, to contain health care costs by increasing choice and transparency.

GROWTH - JON HUNTSMAN

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?Utah’s affordable housing shortage is best addressed by local government and market forces, not necessarily by the state. As governor, I would work to support municipal and county leadership as they tailor solutions to their respective communities.

One element to the solution is to make it more practical for people to live where affordable housing exists. We need greater alignment between population centers and job creation so we don’t have 100,000 people commuting every day from Davis and Weber counties into Salt Lake County. We need more jobs where those commuters live.

State support for affordable housing through the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund is an important part of the solution, but perhaps most important is the marketplace responding to the need, currently a shortage of approximately 50,000 units. If elected, I will also work with our financial institutions and developers to come up with additional solutions to address this growing need.

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?During my first term as governor we took an innovative approach to address chronic homelessness by providing housing first and then addressing other issues second. Our housing-first approach was a remarkable success that drew nationwide interest as we cut chronic homelessness by 91%.

Today, we have some 2,800 homeless people in our state. The number of people sleeping outdoors in Utah has nearly doubled since 2016. Once again, we need to be innovative in our approach.

As governor, I would use my convening power to ensure the involvement of appropriate stakeholders from all levels of government, and from both the private and nonprofit sectors.… I would appoint a director of homeless services, free of distractions from other policy issues, to coordinate efforts and report directly to me.

Editor’s Note: State officials say changes in reporting methodology helped drive the 91% drop in chronic homelessness, which represents a relatively small share of total homelesness but does demand a significant amount of resources.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? Under my administration, we enacted the Transportation Investment Act, now commonly referred to on Capitol Hill as TIF. This action paved the way for major advancements in Utah’s transportation infrastructure; a critical component in the economic growth we’ve experienced since. Without it, we would not have had funds for the I-15 expansion in Utah County or future expansions of Mountain View Corridor and Legacy Highway north [West Davis Corridor]. I support a continuation of this program to allow us to plan, budget and prioritize transportation projects.

We can take a lot of pressure off our transportation system by incentivizing high-occupancy vehicle trips, considering congestion pricing options and investing in the next chapter of our transit system. We also need to double-track FrontRunner to make it a realistic option for more people. We can also encourage and incent businesses to allow for more teleworking options.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? The inland port is an idea decades in the making and I consider it a down payment on our future. If we don’t build it, one of our competitors will. Utah’s connection to the world market is essential for our future ability to compete and for our long-term prosperity.

The development of the inland port should include a focus on creating high-wage jobs, attracting environmentally friendly manufacturing and it should extend the benefits to other parts of our state, including Tooele, Davis, Weber and Iron counties. As governor, I will work with local county and municipal leaders to address concerns and maximize benefits to their communities.

Utah has long been known as the Crossroads of the West, the inland port is essential to us becoming the Crossroads of the World.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?We need to overhaul the way we offer business incentives through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Our current incentive system is calibrated to attract business to our state with a goal to create jobs. With 2% unemployment, job creation is not currently our most pressing need. My priority would be to revamp those incentives to encourage businesses to create jobs that can be filled in rural Utah.

Government can also lead by example. Technology allows us to decentralize state government and either allow for more telecommuting employees or move some state offices to rural parts of our state.

Finally, we need to tailor the education opportunities to the workforce needs and opportunities. As governor, I will explore every option to do just that.

The state’s unemployment rate bottomed out at 2.3%, while Salt Lake City achieved a low of 2%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those numbers are being dramatically altered by the coronavirus outbreak.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?Utah is a Western state and that means that personal vehicles will always be a part of our culture…. We can take a lot of pressure off our transportation system and reduce our emissions by incentivizing high-occupancy vehicle trips, considering congestion pricing options and investing in the next chapter of our transit system.

Another key element will be adding to our transit system so FrontRunner and other transit options become a more practical option for people. To accommodate our growing population, it will need to run more frequently and that means double-tracking our current system. When transit truly becomes the more convenient and affordable route, more people will utilize it.

Utah should lead the way in our larger urban areas and most frequently traveled routes by aspiring to become one of the first regions to incorporate autonomous vehicles.

EQUITY - JON HUNTSMAN

Do you think racism and bias are present in Utah's law enforcement agencies? What would you do as governor to answer calls for racial equity and for justice in cases of police brutality?Most of the men and women who serve as police officers are remarkable people who do a very difficult job very well. But some jobs are so important that we cannot have room for those who fail to meet the highest standards.

It has become clearer over the past few weeks that we need to do better. Biases are inherent to each person based on our own experiences or lack thereof. It’s a human flaw and one that we counter by increasing our connections and commitment to one another.

That is as true with the police force as it is with any other group. In fact, because police officers have a higher rate of interaction with criminals, we need to have ongoing training to ensure interactions with citizens don’t escalate unnecessarily. Officers should show the public respect and be responsible to protect those in their custody.

Much of law enforcement is based at the city and county levels. I recently read about a mayor who required every police officer to go door-to-door to meet the people he or she was assigned to serve. This created a positive first experience to begin the relationship. I think that type of program can be helpful.

Someone who is not endangering the public should not have to be nervous when stopped by an officer and everyone should know exactly what their rights are when they are stopped. Deadly force should always be the very last option.

I’ve ridden with some of Utah’s finest Highway Patrol officers on many late nights. They are dedicated and imperfect — like all of us. There is so much left to be done to heal our communities, and I believe that acknowledging our biases is the first place to begin.

Banning chokeholds and similar tactics is a step in the right direction but Utah’s next governor is going to have to do more than offer token changes. We need leaders who will bring people to the table and do the hard work of building relationships of trust between the people and those who are trusted to protect and serve our communities. This is a pivotal moment to begin the work of change, not something that will be changed in only a moment.

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?I am encouraged by the tremendous strides our society has made to correct past wrongs in recent years. I stand firmly in favor of equality for all people and support efforts that make men and women equal before the law. Throughout our history, the American journey has taken us steadily toward equal opportunity. That will continue. We should carefully consider the best ways to make additional advances.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?As I did before as governor, I will strive to ensure that my appointments reflect the increasing diversity of our state.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps?Absolutely. The public servants who do such a great job providing the essential services of the government deserve to be treated fairly. There is no place for a wage gap in state government. 

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?Our society works best when talent has the opportunity to develop. We get better outcomes from a variety of viewpoints and diversity of experiences.

Government should lead by example by ensuring women and minorities receive the same consideration for advancement as anyone else. We can do a better job of encouraging women and minorities to seek opportunities for advancement and train all levels of management to look for the best person for each job based on their ability and experience.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - JON HUNTSMAN

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no) Yes

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?One of the reasons we implemented the four-day workweek for state government employees was to reduce emissions. Taking some 24,000 employees off the roads for a commute to and from work was a nice start. We are just now shifting to cleaner burning Tier 3 gasoline and that should make a significant difference.

Going forward, we need to increase the availability of charging stations for electric vehicles, including fast charging stations. UTA FrontRunner trains currently have the dirtiest engines, so converting from Tier 1 to Tier 5 engines, and ultimately to electric, should be part of our long-term plan. Increased capacity on our transit system and lowering or eliminating fees on red air days should be part of the equation, as well.

We also need to address the refineries that used to be on the outskirts of town and are now right in the heart of our metropolitan area. That’s not an easy process but it is definitely one we need to plan for.

Editor’s Note: The four-day workweek initiative for state government employees has been largely dismantled in recent years.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not?The theory behind SB248 in the 2019 Legislative session was to provide $58 million in seed funding through the Community Impact Board to attract outside investment in a coal port infrastructure. It was an audacious goal and would be a reasonable state investment in the ability to market a product that provides hundreds of jobs and economic stability to rural Utah. Just as the inland port will give us an important connection to the world market, a deep-water export terminal helps Utah move everything from coal and soda ash to alfalfa and grain to consumers all over the world.

However, the headwinds against coal are strong. There has been little interest from investors in coal port infrastructure. Capital is a coward and investors around the world are reading the signs that show growing concern over the environmental impacts of coal. Additionally, it is no longer cost competitive with natural gas and renewables. It is hard to overcome that trend and we need to have a larger conversation about how to make both an energy transition and an economic transition in these communities.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?No one, including me, wants to change the ownership of Utah’s crown jewels, including national parks, national recreation areas, declared wilderness and military installations. However, there is a great deal of land outside of those categories that has been badly mismanaged by federal agencies, for decades, and at great environmental and economic cost to Utahns.

It is time to have a serious conversation about whether the federal government has the capacity to own and properly manage so much of our land. It is beyond time to revisit the promises made in our enabling legislation, which said that much of the federal land within the state would eventually be sold and a portion of the proceeds would be set aside for the benefit of Utah’s public education system.

Utah is a public lands state. I hope it always will be. But not all of it has to be federal, and the environmental harm caused by decades of federal mismanagement suggests that we could do better.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) No


AIMEE WINDER NEWTON

If elected, how many terms would you serve? Two terms

Age? 45

Where do you live? Taylorsville

What’s your religious affiliation? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What's your job? Salt Lake County councilmember

What’s your top campaign priority? Rebuilding Utah’s economy and getting Utahns back to work

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?I had a front row seat in 1999 to a daunting task for many parents, and that was navigating the health care system after my 2-year-old daughter, Aubree, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We were told she only had a 40% chance of survival and would be blind, deaf or paralyzed if she did survive. After two brain surgeries, she lost her motor skill function and had to relearn how to sit, stand, and walk. She had other side effects from the surgery and had a dozen eye surgeries over several years. For seven years, I would wake up and wonder what I should try next to help her rehabilitate. I fought for her every day. It’s one of the experiences in my life that has given me the fortitude and strength to go to bat for people as I serve in government. Luckily Aubree is doing fantastic! She plays the violin, served a mission in Thailand, and is a student at USU majoring in economics.

TAXES - AIMEE WINDER NEWTON

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?Education is my top funding priority, so once we adequately fund education, I’m open to removing the earmark. Certainly, from a tax policy standpoint, it makes sense, but we can in no way continue to shortchange education and expect world-class outcomes.

At what level do you think the state should tax food?Utah should eliminate the sales tax on food altogether. It hurts working Utahns below the poverty line most — they’re living paycheck to paycheck.

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?This is an enormous and legitimate question that deserves robust public discussion, rather than arbitrarily selecting winners and losers. The first step: Clearly define guiding principles to assess outcomes. Do we ensure fair competition? Do we protect a level playing field? Are we resisting a tax on business inputs? Is the solution a jolt to a specific sector? Have we recaptured the sales tax we were losing to online retailers? Leaders have a responsibility to engage Utahns on this conversation in particular.

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?Utah has a budget surplus and a healthy $900 million Rainy Day Fund, so we do not need additional revenue streams. I will work with the Legislature on tax restructuring and also reduce government spending to head off any pressure to raise taxes due to the severe economic disruption of COVID-19. In the final analysis, making sure Utahns keep their hard-earned money is a solution. Making sure state government is efficient is a solution. Funding education as a long-term investment is a solution. But a regressive Utah lottery is not part of a healthy solution.

EDUCATION - AIMEE WINDER NEWTON

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?I support the current governance structure where Utahns elect their representative to the Board of Education. The only change I actively support is allowing the governor to appoint the state school superintendent and including that person in the governor’s Cabinet.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) No – it doesn’t provide the entire picture of what’s happening in a school.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?1) Increase teacher salaries, 2) Improve the classroom experience, 3) More mental health services as needed, 4) Better tools for accountability to parents and taxpayers, 5) Convene a governor’s statewide task force of everyday teachers to help my Cabinet identify ways a governor can make a difference.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Education is an investment in Utah’s future. When we short-change education, we shortchange Utah’s future. So perhaps we need to reframe this question about inputs and instead ask how Utah becomes the top state for education outcomes. That goal requires sound metrics, priorities, quality educators, investment, and custom solutions that meet student need.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight? If everyone would play by the rules, then there would be enough oversight. We have incredible charter schools in our state, but there are some bad actors who make money off the charter school system and are powerful players in Utah politics. This makes it difficult for everyone to have a level playing field. Overall the charter system is a fantastic way for our kids to have their varied needs met. School choice is a good thing for Utah.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?No – every county in Utah already rejected vouchers and I’m with Utahns on this. That said, it could be prudent to examine limited tax credits for those who educate their children outside of the public education system.

HEALTH - AIMEE WINDER NEWTON

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?As a member of Utah’s mental health crisis commission and Salt Lake County’s Behavioral Health Advisory Board, I have advocated crisis services for years. 1) Utah needs behavioral health receiving centers in the community so people have a place to go if they are in crisis. This reduces costs to emergency rooms and jails, and provides better care. 2) I’ve pushed for a three-digit crisis hotline, which will soon be implemented nationwide. 3) Colleges and universities need more seats for behavioral health degrees – social work, psychiatry, psychology, etc. 4) I call for a comprehensive, statewide study to identify the underlying reasons we struggle as a state.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? First and foremost, providers must be completely transparent about costs. I will work with President Trump and other governors to tackle this. I applaud the efforts of the 2020 Legislature to bring attention to excessive costs for lifesaving drugs, but it’s only part of the solution for a very complicated and very personal issue.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? Yes. I am pro-life and believe the state has a responsibility to defend the right to life for the unborn.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? No. I support medical marijuana, but as law enforcement professionals will tell you, recreational marijuana is devastating to communities on multiple fronts and does disproportionate harm to the young, those already struggling who may be more fragile, or those on the margins. Moreover, it’s completely inconsistent with Utah’s quality of life and the clean living that attracts people to our incredible state.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. It’s easy to stand on principle and say that we shouldn’t be dictating when someone dies, and I get that. But watching a loved one suffer with a terminal illness is heart-wrenching. It’s traumatic for them and their loved one. I am open to exploring a compassionate approach to this.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.The right way to solve this problem is for Congress to work with President Trump to reform health care in a way that provides the most autonomy to the states. That said, I believe we should support this with minimal resources, as we need clarity from the courts.

GROWTH - AIMEE WINDER NEWTON

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?I will restore the vision and full functionality of a state planning division within the Governor’s Office. The planning office will provide critical information, coordination and partnership to local community planners to tackle growth challenges. I support local decision-making on zoning, but the state needs to step up with informed and principle-driven planning input, as well as critical, scalable tools and resources. As the candidate who has the most experience in local government, I understand the delicate balance of providing help to municipalities, while still supporting local control. There are some good options that communities can consider to help with our housing issues — accessory dwelling units, mother-in-law basement apartments, denser infill projects, and medium to high density housing close to transit and freeways.

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?There is no single solution for homelessness. Our response should be a combination of prevention, outreach, case management, mental health assets, community engagement and transitional housing. We have outstanding community partners working tirelessly to tackle homelessness, but there is more we can do as a state besides convene working groups and talk about teamwork. Reform is needed on three fronts: 1) workforce services, 2) the criminal justice system and 3) local social service safety nets. Early intervention is key to preventing chronic, long-term problems. We know our housing-first model works, but inventories are inadequate. As a society we should view our homeless brothers and sisters as people rather than liabilities. While we do need to provide assistance, we can reform our model to more effectively connect these individuals with opportunities, not just services.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? We need transportation choices for cars, bikes, walking and transit. In addition to providing new capacity, we need to take care of what we have. It is three times more expensive to rebuild roads that are neglected than to do slurry seals and overlays as maintenance. I believe transportation funding is the heart of the tax reform discussion. How we choose to fund it — whether user-based, or part of the overall budget — and then what that looks like is a needed discussion. I will work to remove the federal sales tax on gasoline, so those dollars go directly to the state rather than coming back to us with strings attached, to save us money. Utah has made a significant commitment to invest in the state road network. We’ve built a transit system, but don’t have resources to invest in that, so we need to reevaluate our commitment there.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? I want an environmentally friendly port and a way to divert traffic from the Wasatch Front.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?I will prioritize funding to build out broadband networks in rural parts of the state. Access to high-speed internet in these areas will spur economic development, help small businesses, provide telecommuting options, and can even improve access to health care. I will also ensure we have strong entrepreneur programs for rural Utah. These decisions should be a bottom-up approach so local elected officials can help drive the focus.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?I believe investing in the spine of FrontRunner is key. Working with cities and developers to coordinate where new homes and jobs are located in relation to the transit system can increase the number of passengers. We also need to push for carpooling options and technology to help us better connect riders. Safe and convenient bike lanes and sidewalks are also an important component.

EQUITY - AIMEE WINDER NEWTON

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?Yes, I support the Equal Rights Amendment. Everyone is equal, as our Utah Constitution first stated in 1895. I condemn all forms of gender-based discrimination toward women or men. I don’t believe that passing the ERA will diminish traditional family values.

Editor’s Note: Winder Newton updated her answer on April 3.

Since the Utah Legislature didn’t take this up during the session, I’m inclined to wait and see if legally this amendment can be passed as is, or if it needs to start over with Congress. Utah’s constitution has had an equal rights provision since statehood. I am hopeful that, on a federal level, we can come to the right solution on how to protect the God-given rights of both women and men equally, while recognizing the unique differences of women and men.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?My goal is a Cabinet, boards and commissions that reflect the beautiful diversity of our state. Data demonstrate councils achieve better outcomes when various mindsets and life experiences are represented. Ultimately, Utah needs well-qualified and skilled individuals to fill every slot, so I am determined to not allow implicit bias to hamper candidate selection.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps? Absolutely.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?Information is key to awareness, awareness is key to opportunity, and opportunity is key to change. Success starts with the talent pipeline — ensuring everyone has access to education, mentors, role models, business models and business capital. Success continues with the workforce. There’s plenty of data about the value to the bottom line when you have diverse voices in a room. So no more sound bites or lip service. Utah’s conversation needs continuity and commitment and ACTION. What does that look like? Success looks like employers in all sectors — including the state — and in all counties step up with family-friendly policies for parental leave, better child care, flexible schedules, telecommuting and return-to-work programs. Success means we all have a seat at the table — no matter our color, our gender, our heritage or our sexuality.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - AIMEE WINDER NEWTON

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no) Yes

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?We have 60% of the vehicle air pollution coming from 20% of the vehicles. Helping to get cars older than 2003 off the road would be helpful for our air quality situation. We also need to recognize emissions from buildings and educate and open the door for other energy sources to cool/heat homes.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not?Utah has an abundance of natural resources and our energy sector provides roughly 50,000 jobs. Our state policy is to have reliable, affordable, sustainable and clean energy. We need to continue to develop renewable energy and be strategic about where we invest. Utah is doing its part to help the United States decrease its dependence on foreign energy, which not only provides high-paying jobs in our state, but also keeps consumer prices stable across the country and strengthens us on the world stage. For those reasons, I would continue to strategically invest in export infrastructure.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?My initial approach would be to work with the federal delegation and the Trump administration to find a solution. I am not opposed to a lawsuit to take control of our federal lands, but would need surrounding states to be in it with us.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) Yes


THOMAS WRIGHT

If elected, how many terms would you serve? I plan to answer to Utah voters, whether that is one term or two. But I am not a career politician. I would like to serve until I feel like I have done what I can, and then I would let someone else step in.

Age? 46

Where do you live? Salt Lake City

What’s your religious affiliation? I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What's your job? I am the CEO of Summit Sotheby’s, a real estate brokerage company.

What’s your top campaign priority?Our economy is barreling toward another challenging time, and as it arrives, our state would benefit from someone that built and lead a business through the 2008 recession. My leadership experience was forged during a time of economic uncertainty and financial crisis. As a brand-new business owner, I made decisions that not only kept my employees working but helped them grow during the most severe economic recession since the 1930s. My top priority will be using my real-world business experience to effectively support Utah’s businesses, manage the budget, make cuts to spending, focus our limited revenue on the things that matter most, and get Utah back on its feet.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?I speak Russian, although I hope after sharing this no one accuses me of colluding with Russia.

Running mate? Congressman Rob Bishop

TAXES - THOMAS WRIGHT

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?Before we consider removing this earmark, we must do two things. First, we need to fix the imbalance in our tax structure incrementally and with input from taxpayers. Secondly, we must prove that funding public education is our number one priority by properly paying teachers. Until these two things are addressed and the public feels confident that removing the earmark will not harm education funding, the earmark should stay in place. As Utahns we list education as one of our top priorities, and it is time to make that a reality.

At what level do you think the state should tax food?I am not in favor of any sales tax on unprepared food. The Legislature and governor were sincere in their efforts to fix the structural imbalance in our tax system, but what I hear from concerned citizens is that while it might be considered good tax policy by the experts, it is not compassionate tax policy. The tax policies we introduce, and implement should be simple, stable and fair. Broadening the tax base and lowering the tax rate is the best way to achieve a balanced and steady tax base. 

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?The tax policies we introduce should be simple, stable and fair. The government should not pick winners and losers. Singling out certain services for a transaction tax can appear grossly unfair and arbitrary…. Until I have personally gone over the budget line by line to eliminate waste and reallocate our resources to match our priorities, I will not propose new taxes of any kind, especially on services. I want to keep our local businesses competitive and avoid unintended consequences. That means we avoid layering taxes and policies that make it harder for businesses to thrive in Utah.  

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?The state has plenty of funding streams. We need to manage our current revenue and budget better, not burden Utahns with additional taxes and regressive measures that only feed the government’s insatiable appetite for more tax dollars. 

EDUCATION - THOMAS WRIGHT

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?For now, we should select members of the state Board of Education by the law currently in place. If that process has flaws or we find a better way to represent our students, I will bring stakeholders together to make those changes. Regardless of how the members of the state Board of Education are selected, they should be supported. As governor, I will support the State Board of Education by regularly attending and observing its meetings and communicating what happens there to the public and Legislature to raise its profile.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no)  No.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?We can solve our teacher shortage and retention problem by doing two things: 1. Pay and treat our teachers like the professionals they are. This means paying them competitively so that alternative jobs are not a distraction. Teachers teach because they love to teach, not because it will make them wealthy. Paying them more will make it easier and more amenable for them to stay. 2. Deregulate the classroom…. Our teachers know how to teach. We need to hire the best teachers, pay them what they are worth, and then get out of their way.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Ranking is an important metric, but our goal should not be spending a certain dollar amount per student. Our aim should be providing the best education possible for our children. Fully funding the growth of our student population, paying teachers competitively, and providing our students with the resources they need to be ready for the workforce should be our goal.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?The State Charter School Board oversees all of Utah’s charter schools. Its members are appointed by the governor and directly accountable to him/her. As governor, I will ensure the proper oversight of Utah’s charter schools, making them not only compliant in their individual focuses, but innovative in their approaches to the education they provide for our students.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?When I’m governor, I want to cultivate and enhance the trust between the executive branch, the Legislature, and the education community, like the conversations that took place to remove the constitutional earmark and protect public education funding. Our traditional public education system will always be the primary source of education for a large majority of Utah’s schoolchildren, and our investment should match that. But, for those with special circumstances and needs, we should explore all the tools and options available to us from public charter schools to special needs scholarships, to private school vouchers. Ultimately my goal is to make sure our children get the education they need and deserve.

HEALTH - THOMAS WRIGHT

What do you think of the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic?There are things the state has done well and things that the state could have improved upon. Instead of criticizing our current state officials, I am doing my best to help make things better and learn from what is happening to be ready for future challenges.

However, there are two glaring issues with our current coronavirus response: 1. The issuing of no-bid contracts. Transparency and oversight are doubly important during a time of crisis, especially as we face a looming recession. For the safety of Utahns and the stewardship of their tax dollars, all contracts should be vetted not just by staff, but the executive team. I won't allow no-but contracts to happen on my watch. And, 2. The state has governed by executive order. We have some incredible legislative minds and staff, private partners, and citizens. We don’t need to mandate behavior or policy.

How would you guide the state into an economic recovery from the pandemic?We can jump-start our economic recovery right now, but it’s going to take vision and a willingness to make difficult decisions. Our team has a plan that puts Utahns back to work, keeps taxes low, and continues the economic vitality Utah is known for: 1. We have to start by tightening the state’s belt, and doing more with less. 2. We have to Save Utahns money and reduce their tax burden so they can keep more money in their pockets and food on their tables. 3. We have to support our teachers and students, get government out of the classroom, and let our teachers teach. 4. We need to invest in our future, by retraining our unemployed and invest in rural infrastructure. I made tough choices for my business during the last great recession, and I’ll do it again as governor. You can read more about my plan to get the economy back on track by visiting wrightutah.com/jumpstart.

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?We need to promote a culture where Utahns feel as comfortable talking about their anxiety as they do asthma. As I have traveled the state, I have been repeatedly told by mental health experts that we have a serious shortage of providers. Training more mental health experts will show that, as a state, we prioritize access to mental health care and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. I will work tirelessly with the Legislature, local communities, and mental health experts to address any roadblocks, funding issues, and burdensome regulations in order to help those in need of mental health resources.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? It is difficult for Utah, and Utah alone, to do anything about burdensome drug costs. An executive branch with strong influence in Washington, D.C., can encourage the federal government to allow Utah autonomy. In addition, we can support companies like Civica, a not-for-profit drug company headquartered in Lehi, that is working to bring down the price of medications, including insulin.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? I would. I believe life begins at conception, and the life of an unborn child is worth fighting for.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? I am not supportive of legalizing recreational marijuana. Many of our neighbors are finding that despite the increase in revenue, recreational use of marijuana has had serious drawbacks.... We need to exercise caution and critically examine the outcome of legalization in our surrounding states.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. This is a heartbreaking issue, and one I have grappled with as I have watched loved ones suffer from terminal illnesses. I do not believe it should be legal to prescribe life-ending medications for two reasons. First, I believe in the Hippocratic oath. Second, I do not want people to end their lives for fear of being a burden to their families. Dealing with a terminal illness is devastating, and I sympathize with the stress and emotional trauma that occurs when trying to make medical decisions for loved ones.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain. In general, I think lawsuits are a poor way to craft and evaluate policy. But, due to a lack of congressional leadership, there is no other way for Utah’s voice to be heard. So, I support our attorney general and the Republican attorneys general. Our health care system has some serious issues and needs to be modernized, but Obamacare is not the answer to our problems.

GROWTH - THOMAS WRIGHT

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?As governor, I plan to work with the Affordable Housing Commission to propose legislation that incentivizes cities and counties to use smart growth policies. That means reducing the cost of development, zoning for multiuse and higher density housing where it makes sense, and engaging partners like the Olene Walker Housing Fund to assist Utahns with the goal of homeownership.... As governor, this will be one of my top priorities

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?The best way to reduce homelessness in Utah is to tackle our affordable housing shortage and our mental health crisis. So many of the challenges our state faces are connected and attempting to solve one without the others sets us up for failure. We need to make it easier to get mental health treatment and addiction treatment. We also need to make sure that after treatment Utahns have a fair shot at finding affordable housing close to their jobs and their support systems.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? Our roads need help. They are congested, overused and underfunded. As governor, I plan to improve transportation by creating regional transportation plans that bring cities and counties together. We should be collaborating in the planning of roads and infrastructure outside our boundaries. When we develop city by city, or even county by county, our roadways are more expensive and less efficient than if we had broader collaboration. As mentioned before, taxes should be simple and stable. A usage tax is the fairest way to fund transportation. If you are using the roads and contributing to their wear and tear, you should also be contributing to the maintenance and construction of those roads. We also need to look seriously at making transportation self-funding.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? I would like to see the inland port area develop in a way that balances local interests along with conservation and economic development. By bringing goods in by rail, instead of roads, we can improve our air quality, reduce congestion on our roads and enhance our overall quality of life. We will be able to continue to attract investment into our area by companies that place increasing priority on efficient, modern distribution facilities.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?My plan is to truly connect rural Utah through broadband, transportation and state support. Developing strong fiber networks in our rural communities will make it possible for our small businesses to be more competitive. Utahns will then have the opportunity to telecommute, and our state can set an example by relocating some of its departments and offices off the Wasatch Front. … Our rural leaders have amazing ideas; they just need more [state] help to make them happen.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?We need a more accessible and affordable mass transit system. Utah will continue to grow, and as we grow, we need modern buses, rapid transit systems and trains. We also need to focus on connecting our suburban areas to our metropolitan areas by expanding FrontRunner, making it more affordable to commute by train.

EQUITY - THOMAS WRIGHT

Do you think racism and bias are present in Utah's law enforcement agencies? What would you do as governor to answer calls for racial equity and for justice in cases of police brutality?I’m not afraid to talk about what I saw as I watched the footage of George Floyd’s arrest and murder. It was horrific, heartbreaking, and frankly, very difficult to explain to my children. Utah needs leadership on this issue. Ultimately, the local police are under local jurisdiction, but there are productive ways for the governor to be involved in the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. I plan to do that by directing the Utah commissioner of public safety to implement new curriculum and training for current and future officers. We have dedicated law enforcement officers, incredible first responders, and committed activists in the state of Utah but I believe there is always room for us to be better. Our growth has to happen at a local level, with the support of the state. Each one of our counties and municipalities has its own social services needs and safety issues, and each will have their own answers to the question of how they best protect and serve their citizens. I know that we as Utahns want to be part of the solution and take action on racial inequality. We can do that and be an example to the nation if we listen, learn, and show each other compassion.

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?I am a strong advocate for women and believe in equal rights and equal pay. I do not believe Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. According to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the window of time during which states needed to ratify the amendment has passed, and to do so now would cause confusion.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?I plan to treat my Cabinet and state boards and commissions the same way I treat my business. I will value diversity and recognize the benefit of having different voices, opinions, and perspectives.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps?I would support a state employee salary survey. Many factors contribute to the wage gap, and the more information we have, the better we can address those issues in the future.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?Flexibility can go a long way to breaking down barriers. Thanks to technology, our work hours and offices can be more diverse. By making our jobs more adaptable based on the lifestyles and responsibilities of all our citizens, we also make them more accessible.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - THOMAS WRIGHT

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no) Yes

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?The best thing Utah can do to reduce emissions is invest in an efficient mass transit system. When we use smart growth policies to create walkable communities, make mass transit accessible and affordable and connect our larger metropolitan areas to our suburban neighborhoods, we take cars off the roads and lower our emissions.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not? Any investment made with taxpayer dollars should be carefully evaluated. I believe that Utah should do everything it can to diversify and stabilize its economy.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?The key to public lands policy is the public use aspect. If the land serves a public purpose, it matters little if it is owned by city, county, state or national governments. Over and over again, my running mate, Congressman Rob Bishop has been able to use a legislative solution, to find the best use and management for our public lands. Transferred federal land has allowed Uintah County to control its watershed, Nephi to build a firehouse, and Hyde Park, Mantua and Fruit Heights to use lands for community needs. That’s the kind of approach we’ll take in my administration. Again, I think lawsuits are a poor way to craft and evaluate policy, but the state shouldn’t arbitrarily eliminate an option that may be valuable in the future.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) No


ZACHARY MOSES

If elected, how many terms would you serve?I’m realistically aiming for two terms. However, as a public servant, I am beholden to the voters. If the voters want me for more or less than two terms, then I will serve for as long as they wish.

Age? 36

Where do you live? Salt Lake City, in the neighborhood of Poplar Grove.

What’s your religious affiliation? I practice the separation of church and state. I am a fervent defender of our freedom of religion, as well as our freedom from religious intrusion into our government. I also would like it noted that The Tribune should rise to a higher standard than asking this question, which is irrelevant to the job of the governor.

What's your job? CEO of HeTravel.com the world’s largest land-based LGBTQ+ tour operator. We operate on all seven continents and even have virtual reality simulations of eventual moon tourism. I’ve spent my career making the world a safer place for LGBTQ+ travelers and their friends. Along my global career path, I’ve seen how many other cultures face their problems, and am now a believer that every problem on earth has been solved somewhere. We just need more people talking to each other and sharing their ideas and breakthroughs!

What’s your top campaign priority? Restoring the Great Salt Lake and controlling the dust blown off the exposed lakebed and playa. According to a recent BYU study, the dust blown off the exposed playa of the GSL is responsible for up to 90% of the particulate pollution hanging in our inversions. Another recent U of U study, says that the dust blown off the lake contributes to higher risks of lung cancer, and disrupts our winter snowpack. We’ve been traveling the world looking for solutions to this, and we believe we have found them. In our first 100 days we will commission a feasibility study for a large-scale pumped-hydro energy system. This new clean energy infrastructure which refill our dwindling lakes, clean up our horrid air, and prepare a future where higher population numbers demand more freshwater. These solutions will fix our environment, meet our water needs, and won’t force you to stop watering your lawn.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?I was the youngest person to ever be elected to the board of directors, for the National Tour Association. I was 29 years old at the time. I found myself surrounded by colleagues with an average age of 60. They took a risk when they brought me on. They gambled that I’d be the voice of the emerging millennial market. They gambled that the fresh ideas and insights of my youth, could turn the association around and help them recover from the recession. They were right, and the association grew rapidly, after years of decline. We’ll bring those youthful innovations to Utah. It’s 2020 and we need clearer vision. The time has come for a millennial to serve in the office of governor.

TAXES - ZACHARY MOSES

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?I do not support changing our constitution for this purpose. Utah has a difficult enough time paying for education as it is, and I believe moving the money to the general fund would be a slippery slope. I don’t trust our current Legislature to make the right decisions with that money. The constitutional earmark was written into our constitution for a reason; to prevent exactly what our Legislature is currently attempting to do with our income taxes.

At what level do you think the state should tax food?I am opposed to food taxes at any level. Taxing food, the fuel that keeps us human beings alive, is no different than a head tax, and is therefore immoral. Feel free to tax edible luxuries like privately sold liquor, and cannabis cookies. However, our lawmakers should leave our basic food staples alone. These types of regressive taxes harm the most vulnerable members of our society 

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?Yes, but only for those services which pass easily through digital payment platforms. The majority of independent contractors get such large writeoffs on their 1099s, that they often do not owe any income taxes at the end of the year. Therefore, unlike W2 wage earners, many of these contractors do not contribute anything toward our state education fund. To remedy this situation and create a more equitable future for all of Utah’s students, we must tax a portion of services as income. Also, I believe corporations should be responsible for a 4.95% flat “robotic-income-tax,” for all capital generating services which are performed by machines or software, rather than human workers. That tax shall be earmarked for education, as all other income tax is. We will also focus on taxing the services that will no longer be prohibited in Utah, after a review of unnecessary “freedom restrictions,” identified by the Moses administration. 

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?Yes, I have several ideas: a new tires tax (since tires are responsible for most road damage, they should pay for its repair), carbon taxes, state lottery, recreational cannabis taxes, herbal-grade cannabis (new category), raw coca leaves (herbal/medicinal grades only), psilocybin (medical first),transient-use taxes for residential properties converted to AirBnb or similar, new absentee/nonresident landlord property taxes, a new multipartner marriage tax, taxes on land owned by churches with more than $100 billion in revolving “for-profit” assets, new taxes on mineral extraction and processing (used to repair environmental damage), private liquor store sales taxes, taxes on car dealerships that do not offer at least one electric option, progressive income taxes, and “automation-income” taxes. Please Note: “medical cannabis” should NOT be taxed. 

EDUCATION - ZACHARY MOSES

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?Through publicly funded elections which are nonpartisan. The governor should continue to appoint [members to] vacant board positions, and the Legislature should be allowed to block the new appointee through a veto-proof supermajority

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) No, it’s a terrible method of measurement that has been proven time and time again to be inaccurate, ineffective, and a complete waste of everyone’s effort. It’s disingenuous to grade Utah schools like this, when we refuse to prioritize education as much as the rest of the nation does. This school performance grading system only serves to hurt schools in the low-income areas of our state.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?Raise all Utah teacher’s starting pay to $60,000 per year, with the ability to make over $100,000 per year throughout their career. The estimated cost for this is $530 million per year, according to a recent Envision Utah study. (*Note: This is also a surprisingly similar number to what Colorado collected in recreational cannabis taxes for 2019)

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Yes, by raising teachers’ salaries, and reducing class sizes. We need to move in a Montessori style (student-led learning) direction for elementary school. During these early years we shall identify natural life skills, and talents to match students to paths best suited for their individual futures. Students will be filtered into programs that prepare them to pursue personally relevant topics in their post-secondary education.

Our middle schools, and high schools should focus equally on three distinct STEM, arts, and trade school tracks, automatically assigning students to their tracks according to demonstrated interest and aptitude.

College should be free for all degrees whose workers are in short supply, with guaranteed automatic job placement. These subsidized college graduates must work in the assigned field for a minimum of two years, to avoid repayment requirements. We will use the taxes from recreational cannabis and new “robotic-income,” taxes to pay for this program. 

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?No, but I am happy to consider regulations to help them hit higher marks. We currently have several conflicts of interest between legislators and charter schools, which need to be addressed. I previously worked at City Academy, a charter school in downtown Salt Lake City, and the kids at our school did great! Many of our students were considered misfit kids and had been bullied in the big 5A schools. At City Academy, we offered these kids another opportunity, surrounded by an environment of inclusion and diversity. Charter schools should function as a complement to public schools, not as a replacement.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?Sure, if Utahns want vouchers, we’re happy to pay for that through new progressive income taxes. Otherwise, without a change to the income tax rate, the state would be hemorrhaging funds from the already feebly-funded public education system. If we earmark more money to education, then I’m happy to consider more creative education spending and solutions.

HEALTH - ZACHARY MOSES

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?We’ll measure our economy in Gross Domestic Happiness like Bhutan does. Our GDP is irrelevant to measure success, when progressively more people are left behind. Going forward, Utah will issue the annual “happiness survey,” containing a series of questions about your state of happiness, well-being and contentment with your personal situation. The point of civilization’s existence is raising the conditions of its citizens. We need a clear vision of what the state must do, in order to compassionately address this grave situation. We must consider how our culture affects the most vulnerable amongst us. At every turn we seem to have a Legislature pleased to attack the poor, the homeless, the LGBTQ+ community, the terminally ill, and everyday Utah workers. We have members of our society feeling as if they are faced with a decision between continued attacks or escape. Mental health services will be free of charge.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? Regulate the prices. Every other industrialized nation on earth does this, and it’s commonsense legislation at this point. Colorado recently passed legislation capping the price of insulin, which has spiraled so out of control that the average diabetic has begun to ration the medication that keeps him or her alive. This is unacceptable! We must not allow excuses for this dishonest pricing anymore. We will rein in the drug companies.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? This issue is far too partisan, and we need to have a serious conversation about whether we, as a state, should be spending our tax dollars defending this ban. The new law directly conflicts with law already long settled by the national Supreme Court, as well as the court of public opinion. Therefore, my response to this question will depend on the will of the citizens of Utah. If a supermajority of our state’s citizens want this ban defended in federal court, then I will defend it. However, I will not agree to run this crusade, without the consent of our voters. I request that the voters run a public proposition, officially asking me to defend this law, should they wish to see it defended on the national stage. If such a proposition passes, then I will defend Utah’s new law without prejudice.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? Yes!! After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, I will be the first in line. Currently millions of dollars are pouring over the borders into our neighboring states. This mass exodus of capital is causing the spoils of our “hot economy,” to leave the state and stimulate our neighboring states’ economies, instead of our own. A robust recreational marijuana industry will also make tourism easier for medical marijuana patients. They can arrive and get what they need without paying to visit a local doctor or risking federal drug charges, by transporting their medication over state lines. I’d also like to add a new category of low-thc-low-cbd “herbal-grade,” marijuana. This grade will be secured behind the counters at gas stations, grocery stores, and health supplement distributors.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. Yes. It comes down to our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For many terminally ill patients, their conditions have already taken their liberty of movement, as well as their ability to pursue their unique state of happiness. How can we possibly justify claiming that their remaining “right to life,” does not include the right to decide when that life ends? However, we need to also pair this freedom of choice, with a thorough mental examination by a mental health professional. These steps will ensure that the patient is fully aware of their decision, and its permanent consequences.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain. I do not support it. ACA did not achieve many of the goals it set out to accomplish, and admittedly needs massive improvements. However, it solved a lot of big problems. Under ACA, my epileptic brother has health care. Medicaid was finally expanded, and thousands of other people have health care too. Countless people could have been saved from death, if our Republican Legislature had accepted the Medicaid expansion earlier. They even delayed after it was approved by the voters through public initiative. Millions of dollars were left on the table, over the last decade. Those were federal dollars earmarked for the citizens of Utah. We paid taxes to the federal government, and this was the money won back for our state. Yet, our leaders turned up their nose at the money, out of spite for the president who enacted the law. Frankly we should throw those legislators out, not the law.

GROWTH - ZACHARY MOSES

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?With the current landlord monopoly in Utah, we’re seeing a type of crisis we haven’t seen since President Lincoln opened the West to settlement. They did this over 100 years ago to break the backs of the American landlord monopoly. We suffer from the effects of a new landlord monopoly today. The results of property consolidation during the Great Recession. We will explore legislation that requires apartment buildings with more than eight rental units to keep at least 25% of them at affordable levels statewide. We will also consider charging state property tax on rental properties owned or managed by corporations headquartered outside of Utah. These property management corporations siphon capital out of Utah while not providing any measurable benefit to the state, its people or our local economies

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?Encourage more microhousing and tiny houses. Require progressive limits on the growth of the short-term rental market used up by platforms like AirBnb. This will encourage more rentals to transition back into long-term housing. We will charge new state taxes on rental properties owned by nonresidents and absentee landlords in order to discourage foreign hoarding of Utah homes. It’s also time for the state to update its rent/landlord control laws, which have long favored landlords and afforded no rights to the renter.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? The state has a very large transportation budget. Most of it is used to expand freeways and other state highways. It’s time to shift the focus from growth in road size to growth in regional mass transit and statewide high-speed clean transport, including maglev and hyperloop. The state will use revenue from new carbon taxes to fund these cleaner, higher speed and more efficient forms of transportation. These new systems will serve to equalize the income disparity throughout the state by lowering the burden of commuting. It also allows small and large businesses alike to access a larger pool of applicants from rural areas.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? Developed into a 16,000-acre nature park, rivaling Manhattan’s Central Park. We’ll encourage the expansion of the antelope herds and reintroduce bison to the main shoreline. We should improve and restore our wetlands to increase their natural capacity as pollution and carbon sinks. We’ll run safari camps within the nature preserve and establish bird watching and conservation expeditions. Tourism is already our largest industry and still growing. As Brigham Young said, we’ll make this desert “blossom like a rose.” We must honor this founding tradition and avoid paving over our last great spaces. Instead, we should redevelop our outdated warehousing infrastructure into modern, stacked architectural wonders. We must leave what’s left of our natural wonders for future generations. I see our grandchildren standing in awe one day, knowing that our generations managed to save what was left of this valley for them.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?As part of our saline-lake-restoration plan, we will bring green energy jobs to rural Utah. We’ll expand our rural tourism infrastructure through arts and development grants, revitalizing distressed town centers. We’ll attract the high paying jobs of the future by zoning for the eventual hyperloop, as well as regional spaceports. Space travel is a $350 billion industry which is projected to swell to $2.7 trillion by 2040. Utah needs to begin laying the groundwork to lead the national and global economies in space-related industries. This model of forward thinking has already been used, at a smaller scale, with the Silicon Slopes project.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?Utah needs to begin fully embracing the future of self-driving vehicles. These systems are being pioneered by tech giants around the globe and the rideshare industry. High-speed transit via hyperloop trains will also work to remove more expensive, and less efficient, personal vehicles from our roads. We also need to have an honest discussion about whether the ~14% of income that UTA generates from its fares is worth not having a completely free transit system.

EQUITY - ZACHARY MOSES

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?Yes. Because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s embarrassing that it has taken this long to ratify it. Americans and Utahns are vastly in favor of this and even though our state constitution contains similar language, it is desperately needed on the national scale. Representatives of Utah who vote and lobby against this amendment are more dedicated to their own personal agendas than the will of the citizens. Rep. Karen Kwan’s dedicated work on this issue is commendable and deserves to be rewarded by the ratification of the ERA.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?Our Cabinet and appointments will accurately represent the rainbow of colors, genders, affiliations, orientations, etc. of the greater population. If my Cabinet doesn’t reflect the state’s population, then I’m not functioning as everyone’s governor. A government that reflects the population makeup of the state brings new experiences and advocates to the table. It also ensures that our government is best suited to meet the unique needs of every demographic within Utah’s population.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps?Yes, of course I support this. Only gross incompetence explains why this hasn’t already been conducted. All people deserve to be treated equally as members of One Human Family. There is a difference between rewarding someone for going above and beyond within their job and refusing to pay someone what they are owed simply because they’re a woman or a minority.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?We have a worker shortage in Utah. There are three available jobs for every two workers. It’s time to make demands! Women and minorities consistently find themselves relegated to the lowest rungs of our economy. This even happens when they are equally, or more qualified than those around them. Utah is uniquely positioned to cultivate the best and brightest workers of our state. However, this means investing in the workforce we have now. Importing wealthy workers from San Francisco, New York and other monied areas of the country while underpaying our local women and minorities is immoral. We must invest in training our current residents, especially those entering the workforce for their first time. We will eliminate any excuses to underpay any of Utah’s workers. Through new workforce regulations, we will guarantee that all of Utah’s workers are properly compensated for their time.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - ZACHARY MOSES

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no)Yes. It’s been obvious since the 1970s. Look at the Great Salt Lake. We diverted the water and half the lake’s evaporative surface dried out. This type of measurable change is called “human caused climate change.” It’s obviously real, go visit the lake and see for yourself. This local climate change has impacted our regional weather patterns, snowfall accumulation, air quality, humidity, etc. The Great Salt Lake is an inland terminal sea, which controls the climate of the Wasatch Front. Humans naively drained half of it and changed the local climate. This science is settled. The cause is humans.

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?Stop investing in dirty infrastructure. Enforce the federal guidelines for pollution on Utah’s dirtiest emitters. We should implement similar methane laws as our neighbors in Colorado, to prevent energy companies from venting or flaring our publicly owned methane reserves into the atmosphere. These resources are the property of the citizens of Utah and the companies extracting them are being careless with our property. Dirty extractors follow these behaviors without regard to our residents' health or well-being. Business and government must be equal partners in the fight to combat dirty emissions, especially when those emissions are due to flagrant carelessness by our mineral extraction partners.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not?No, coal is on the decline. Solar power is now cheaper to produce per kilowatt than coal. Burning coal is also incredibly dirty. Due to this, we now avoid burning coal for power here in Utah. However, we’re considering expansion of our coal infrastructure to increase how much coal we’re shipping to China to burn. It is inappropriate to sell fuel to China that we feel is unacceptable to burn at home. We all share the same atmosphere. Recognizing the obvious decline in this division of our energy sector, we must invest in transitioning our local coal workers into new industries, which will provide better prospects for long-term financial stability.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?This is a tough one for me. During my youth, I would have been opposed to this concept. I felt that our federal government was doing a better job of preserving and protecting our lands than our state government was. However, today our public lands are being gutted by our state Legislature, encouraged by our federal government. Suddenly I’m feeling much more “states’ rights,” on this issue. I still don’t trust our state Legislature to make the right choices (being dominated by developers). However, at least on the state level, the citizens have more control, and can rule by referendum. Under state control, the citizens would have the power to force the protection of these irreplaceable lands by crafting their own legislation.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no)No, we do not currently plan to accept money from EnergySolutions. Under the current circumstances of energy disposal in Utah, we cannot take this money in good conscience. However, if EnergySolutions choses to pivot strategies and fund our green energy solutions of the future, we would be more than happy to work with them. In this scenario we could clean up the toxic messes of greater Utah, the Great Salt Lake and its unstable shorelines. We are ready and willing to discuss the Moses administration working with EnergySolutions to achieve this altruistic goal. However, until this positive change happens, we cannot accept money from a company that is profiting from further destruction of our precious Utah land.


CHRIS PETERSON

If elected, how many terms would you serve? This is up to the people of Utah to decide.

Age? 45

Where do you live? Salt Lake City

What’s your religious affiliation?My mother is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My father is not. I feel connected to and see the perspectives of both.

What's your job? I am a business law professor at the University of Utah. I’ve spent most of my career working to protect the financial rights of working people.

What’s your top campaign priority?My top priority is to restore balance to Utah government by advocating for the interests of the public.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you? I rode a bicycle from Utah to the Oregon coast alone when I was 19.

Running mate? Karina Brown

TAXES - CHRIS PETERSON

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?I support full funding of Utah’s public education system so children receive the best education possible. For too long, we have lagged behind other states in providing resources to educate our kids. Removing the constitutional earmark would be a step in the wrong direction. We need to ensure sufficient income tax revenue to build a public education system that is first-class in our nation.  

At what level do you think the state should tax food?Any tax on food harms Utah’s poor and struggling residents. Not having enough to eat hurts our community at every level. Taxing food is bad for the economy, for education, for health, and for public safety. 

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?To satisfy Utah state law and to have annual balanced budgets, we should consider gradual tax increases on financial sales and some service transactions if needed. Incremental tax increases on fossil fuel refineries, luxuries, and hotels may be appropriate but must be carefully managed and used responsibly. 

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?A state lottery is inconsistent with our traditions and would tend to tax those who can least afford it. Instead, Utah should consider returning to a progressive income tax where the wealthiest Utahns pay a little more than our lower-income families. As a state one of our core values should be that for those of us to whom much has been given, a bit more is expected.  

EDUCATION - CHRIS PETERSON

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?The Board of Education selection process should include input from professional educators and should emphasize balance and civility. Our Board of Education should avoid partisan rancor, extremism, or ideological crusades.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) No. The George W. Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” policy was well-intended but flawed, and has harmed Utah’s public schools with too many arbitrary standardized tests and by diverting money out of schools that teach some of our most vulnerable children. Schools should not be struggling to meet punitive benchmarks set by outside groups. We need to empower our teachers to nurture and educate our kids.

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?We should also give teachers the respect they deserve. They are the foundation of a good economy and good citizenry. Utah has some of the largest student-teacher ratios in the nation. Too many of our best teachers face burnout and leave the classroom after only a few years on the job. We need to increase compensation and provide more resources for textbooks, supplies, technology support, special needs students, counseling, and career training.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Absolutely. I agree with Gov. [Gary] Herbert who sees these problems, and has urged the Legislature to: (1) Raise public school teacher salaries significantly — at least to the levels in our neighboring states; (2) Reduce the student-teacher classroom ratios by recruiting and retaining new teachers; (3) Doing more to encourage parents to volunteer and help teaching by sharing their expertise; and (4) using the latest computer and internet technologies in classrooms to prepare our children for the future. Our goal should be to create the finest public education system in America.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?I’m troubled by the lack of oversight and transparency of some of our charter schools. I’m also concerned that parents face long commutes, adding to our traffic congestion and air quality problems, just to find a quality education for the kids they love. The best solution is building first-class public schools in every neighborhood that create civic pride and a sense of belonging for everyone. Some charter schools are doing well, particularly when they serve children with special needs or interests.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?No. In a 2007 statewide referendum, Utah voters — in all 29 Utah counties — overwhelmingly rejected the Legislature’s effort to hand over taxpayer dollars to private schools with minimum oversight. I will always listen to the people.

HEALTH - CHRIS PETERSON

What do you think of the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic?Utah’s medical professionals, frontline workers, and first responders have worked heroically during the pandemic. While I also appreciate the efforts of leaders in state government, there have been many missteps.

State government has wasted time and taxpayer funds on unproven medical treatments, costly no-bid contracts, and cell phone tracking technology that does not work. Testing for the disease has faced significant delays, including ongoing problems providing timely test results in our highest risk populations such as the meat packing facility in Hyrum, Utah. Although the number of Utahns facing food insecurity has more than doubled during the crisis, Utah has not applied for approximately $50 million in food assistance benefits for low-income families authorized by Congress since March under the Pandemic-EBT program. Unlike many states, Utah did not extend the duration of our residential eviction moratorium to prevent a spike in homelessness and has lagged in providing assistance to small residential landlords. Far too many Utahns, including thousands of frontline workers, still do not have access to scientifically recommended personal protective equipment such as N95 masks. The Department of Financial Institutions has been flat-footed in helping protect consumers from illegal debt collection practices, stopping scams and fraud, providing critical information on mortgage loans to consumers, and encouraging emergency lending to small businesses.

Payday loan companies continue to trap struggling low-income families with triple-digit interest rate predatory loans. State communication with the restaurant industry has been confusing and inconsistent. Despite the best efforts of teachers, our chronically underfunded public school system struggled to adapt to the shut-down and is not well prepared for school to resume in the fall. Overall the state’s pandemic response has been most effective for wealthy Utahns and large businesses.

How would you guide the state into an economic recovery from the pandemic?I have a seven point plan to build a vibrant Utah economy. First, Utah needs a more effective public health response to give consumers and businesses the confidence they need to resume economic activity. The state’s failure to contain the virus is slowing economic development and causing high unemployment. Utah government must more proactively connect businesses and families with already available federal economic relief programs and should be working with financial institutions to provide no-interest emergency loans to struggling businesses. The state should offer tax deferment plans to give businesses that need it more time to pay their taxes. And, we should bond for shovel-ready construction and infrastructure projects to spark growth.

Second, Utah needs a coordinated effort to create the most innovative technology hub in the world. We need to fund and revitalize our education system to train a deep bench of talented workers including the coders, data scientists, biologists, and engineers that will attract and grow more high technology jobs of the future. We should work with technology, bio-medical, and manufacturing industries to identify staffing needs and create educational pipelines from high school through trade schools, community colleges, and Universities directly into industry. Utah should leverage our Universities to invent new technology and grow start-up businesses.

Third, we should facilitate entrepreneurialism by maintaining low taxes, promoting access to affordable health care for small businesses and their employees, stimulating affordable housing, and cutting red tape wherever possible.

Fourth, Utah should more effectively combat fraud, scams, and other consumer abuses that undermine trust, lead to costly litigation, disrupt employment, and decrease the quality of life for Utah workers.

Fifth, I would implement a rural economic development plan including a future farmers student loan assistance program, water infrastructure improvements, internet broadband, technology sector teleworking, and green-energy jobs.

Sixth, Utah must plan for population growth with infrastructure improvements, affordable housing development, and greater access to mass transit along the Wasatch Front.

And finally, I support increasing Utah’s minimum wage to put more money in the pockets of workers and more customers with money in their pockets for Utah businesses. Gradually increasing the minimum wage will spur job growth, economic development, and lessen economic inequality.

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?For years our state has experienced high rates of emotional depression throughout our population, from stressed mothers and older men to teenagers feeling bullied and Utah’s LGBTQ groups who feel excluded and rejected. Tragically, 85% of deaths by a firearm in Utah are apparent suicides. We need a coordinated group response — a collaboration that includes government at all levels (state, counties, cities), Utah’s business community , nonprofits, our colleges and universities, faith leaders, and first responders (police, fire, paramedics). This partnership should include a plan to provide more funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment, educating the public about suicide risk factors and access to help, building social support networks, and making a special effort to include rural areas.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? Utah should expand Medicaid to the fullest possible extent, do away with inefficient barriers to access, partner with innovative nonprofits like Civica Rx, and lobby the federal government to pass comprehensive health care reform that includes prescription price policy. Utah’s citizens and businesses should also use the free market to reduce costs wherever possible, including purchasing the same pharmaceuticals in Canada and Mexico when feasible.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? No. The matter has already been resolved by Roe v. Wade.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? I support allowing physicians to prescribe medically necessary cannabis to help those suffering from illness or pain. On the other hand, Utah voters and the Legislature have not supported legalization for recreational use. I agree and believe Utah should wait for further evidence and scientific study of the outcomes in our neighboring states.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. It is not the government’s place to intrude upon the private health care decisions made between a patient, families, and their doctor. Those suffering from terminal illnesses deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at the end of their lives.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.No. This lawsuit threatens access to affordable health care for thousands of Utahns and is a wasteful use of taxpayer funds. I believe health care is a basic human right. In the 21st century our country can afford to provide basic medical care to every American.

GROWTH - CHRIS PETERSON

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?We should increase funding for emergency rent subsidies to keep families from eviction. The state can also help expand the supply of affordable housing by strengthening policies for allocating existing resources, expanding the financial resources available for affordable housing, and offering incentives to developers and municipalities to promote the development of affordable homes.

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?Urban poverty and homelessness is far easier to recognize, but homelessness is a problem in some of Utah’s rural areas as well. As governor, I would work relentlessly with Utah’s community partners including nonprofits, churches, the business community and government at all levels in addition to law enforcement to help ease and reduce this terrible problem. In Utah’s largest city, Salt Lake City, … I am concerned that we may not have sufficient beds and resources to accommodate our rapidly growing population. We must also recognize our jails are not efficient or cost effective in treating mental health problems or addiction.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? In the short term, I support transitioning to Tier 3 gasoline that would significantly reduce vehicle pollutants. We also need an ambitious plan to incentivize electric and hybrid vehicles. In our densely populated areas, Utah should adapt by reprioritizing our infrastructure investment from roads to rail and from cars to buses. We need to make mass transit fast and affordable. With almost 40% of Utah’s population living in the Salt Lake Valley, many Utahns would benefit from expanding our light rail system.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? The inland port development should be directed by Salt Lake City.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?I support creating inland port satellite hubs in rural locations, tax incentives for new businesses in underdeveloped rural areas and promoting more tourism. Utah government can also spur development and decrease costs by gradually transitioning state offices to more rural areas located throughout the state. We should also incentivize remote work for government and private employees alike so Utahns can work from the beautiful and unique places they prefer to live. I would also fight to pass a Utah Young Farmers Success Act that would establish a student debt forgiveness program for college and community college graduates who serve our state working on family farms and ranches.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?We should expand light rail in our urban areas, schedule more frequent small UTA buses and increase telecommuting. I also propose working with local governments to set their own land-use policies to incentivize modern, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-used environments that help Utahns stay close to home and out of their cars.

EQUITY - CHRIS PETERSON

Do you think racism and bias are present in Utah's law enforcement agencies? What would you do as governor to answer calls for racial equity and for justice in cases of police brutality?Recently I have been visiting with friends, neighbors, and leaders in Utah’s Black community and I have been listening to their stories. The racial violence that killed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others before them harkens back to hundreds of years of oppression and unfair treatment of Black Americans. For too long racial disparities have persisted in work and wealth, in health care and education, in the very things that can enrich our lives, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They have told me that many Black Utahns feel they are often treated unfairly by the police, by our government, and by society in general. They tell me that they are treated as though their hopes, dreams, and lives matter less than others.

Utah leaders need to do a better job recognizing and celebrating Black Utahns and other people of color for adding to our state’s diverse and vibrant cultural mosaic. Black Utahns and other people of color need to know Utah’s leaders and law enforcement agencies are listening to their concerns and recognizing that black lives matter. As Governor I would work to end systemic racism, implicit bias, and economic inequality. I am committed to law enforcement reforms including implicit bias training, conflict deescalation, improved funding for mental health treatment, reducing unnecessarily long incarceration, revising use of force policies, and empowering community policing boards. At the same time, all Utahns must respect the rule of law and recognize that police officers deserve civility, safety, and support.

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?Yes. I believe all people deserve equal rights under our laws.

The Equal Rights Amendment would simply provide that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Currently 35 of the 50 state legislatures have ratified the amendment but Utah declined to do so back in 1975. More recently, public opinion polls have found a majority of Utahns now support ratification. If I am elected governor and the Legislature passes the Equal Rights Amendment, then I would enthusiastically sign this simple and long-overdue amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?I believe in hiring the best person for any job — in the public or private sector. Ensuring that our government reflects the diversity of our state’s population is an important way to strengthen our communities and improve leadership. Diversity is one of America’s greatest assets. Our Utah state boards and commissions will better serve the public interest by embracing and celebrating our differences.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps?Yes, absolutely. I oppose discrimination in all forms — including wage discrimination. It is essential that changes in public policy should always be based upon sound data and science. If our state government is engaging in wage discrimination, we should identify the root causes and work to overcome it.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?A recent study by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute documented that Utah now has 129 different languages spoken, including 106 languages in Salt Lake County alone. Utah is now a culturally diverse state with many new immigrants and refugees from all around the world. All of these people are our brothers and sisters and must not suffer any form of discrimination. Our plans should include adding child care centers to state office buildings, promoting flexible work hours and telecommuting opportunities for working parents, and building networks with internship and training programs for minority professionals.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - CHRIS PETERSON

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no)Yes. The scientific evidence is overwhelming and increasing every year. Each year in this 21st century we have seen the temperature of our planet rise. In Utah we see our trees dying, the desert expanding, our water needs increasing, and agricultural output declining…. The evidence is clear that climate change will be one of our generation’s greatest challenges. By relying on our strength, our creativity, our intelligence and on facts and science, we can rise to this challenge.

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?As governor I would set a goal of leading Utah to a net-zero carbon emission future. To achieve this I would support tax incentives to accelerate electric vehicle use; to encourage commercial, government, and residential investment in rooftop solar power; to develop commercial wind and solar power plants in rural Utah; and, modify building codes at the state level to require energy efficient new construction.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not?I believe millions of Utah taxpayer dollars should be spent wisely as Utah transitions to a clean energy future. I believe we need to be aware that our nation’s national economy has been changing, and I would prefer not to spend millions of Utah taxpayer dollars to fight expensive lawsuits. Utah is transitioning from a state dependent on mining and fossil fuels to high-tech industries. As governor and as a fiscal conservative, I would be concerned with the welfare of all Utahns and the damage to Utah’s natural environment, tourism and public health. However, I support development projects, including in solar, wind and geothermal power, especially in those communities hardest hit by the decreasing competitiveness of our coal industry.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders? No.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) No.


NIKKI PINO

If elected, how many terms would you serve?One or two. Depending on if I can get all the work that needs to be done sooner or later, but I have no intention of ... overstaying my welcome.

Age? 31 years old. Born in 1988.

Where do you live? Provo

What’s your religious affiliation? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What's your job? Mentor at Discovery Ranch. It is a facility for troubled boys from all over the country seeking education, mental health and counseling and a sense of normalcy from their difficult circumstances.

What’s your top campaign priority?Improving communication and interconnectivity between the government and public, expanding health care to include medical cannabis, child care, mental health, better insurance, overall a better system, and the development of a more comprehensive public transportation program. But in all honesty, almost every aspect of our government, society, and state needs improvement in one area or another and I have ideas and plans on how to improve almost everything.

What’s one thing that voters would be surprised to learn about you?I am a nerd. I grew up playing video games, watching anime and cartoons, [reading] comic books, [playing] Dungeons and Dragons [and] Magic the Gathering, [watching] movies [and] TV shows, [reading] books, everything about nerd culture. I am proud to be a member of that community. It is full of bright and supportive people from all walks of life and demographics; Republicans, Democrats, minorities, young people, some older people, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you believe we are all connected by our love and passion for our nerdiness.

TAXES - NIKKI PINO

Do you support removing the constitutional earmark that reserves income tax revenue for public education? Why or why not?I would not remove it. Having a specific reserve and dedicated source of income for education is extremely important. We need to have proper education if we’re going to have an intelligent and well educated public. If we take that away, they can continue to defund our education, making our future generations less informed and capable of noticing when the government is taking advantage of them.  

At what level do you think the state should tax food?Taxes are important and I think if we tax correctly we can provide everything the public needs without making their life difficult. Right now is not the time to tax food as there are other things in the budget we can adjust, like incentives for corporations can be reduced and tax them more to compensate.  

Should the state tax more service transactions? If so, which?At some point, maybe. Right now, however, it’s not necessary because we have other things that will be more beneficial to the Utah public.  

Are there any alternative revenue streams (i.e. carbon taxes, lotteries, etc.) that the state should consider adopting? If so, what?Yes, a carbon tax would be something I would look into as it could definitely be used for offsetting some of the issues of funding we need in other areas like education and I would go so far as to say I think we do need one.

And there are many ideas we could implement that could help bring in revenue. A lot of states have a gimmick or some natural wonder like the Grand Canyon that brings in money. Some of the ideas could be theme parks like Disneyland or amusement parks like Lagoon, but with an overhaul and update. We could look into our beautiful parks and diverse landscapes and create outdoor adventurescapes for hunting, camping, recreational vehicles, paintballing, etc.

I would even go so far as to invest in our nerd culture…. Utah is the Nerd Capital of the United States. We should take advantage of that and push for things like the biggest renaissance fair or live action role playing like the Evermore in Utah County. There is a huge market in the nerd community that is barely tapped with the Fan X convention in the fall.
 

EDUCATION - NIKKI PINO

How should Utah select members of the state Board of Education?I don’t mind them being elected, appointed or hired. I want to make sure that they don’t have any conflict of interests: No other job or connection that they are using to benefit a certain group or business. They are there solely for the education program and the benefit of the children.

Do you support the use of a letter grade to represent school performance? (Yes or no) Yes

What is your plan to improve teacher retention in the state?Increase funding for education to increase teacher pay and benefits [and] create smaller classes.

Should Utah have a goal of improving its last-in-the-nation ranking for per-student spending? If so, how?Yes. We should push for first ranked in the nation. I wholeheartedly believe in education and its importance. By increasing funding and changing our curriculum to be up to date and teach kids what they actually need to know to survive in the world, like taxes, how to vote, etc.

Do Utah’s charter schools have an appropriate level of oversight?No. I think they need more oversight and regulations. I’ve seen and heard plenty of charter schools taking advantage of kids and parents and it disgusts me.

Do you support private school vouchers? Why or why not?There are positives and negatives to private schooling and vouchers. I think they should be held to higher standards but [we should] make sure their curriculum is similar to public education so there is not a disparity between students solely based on their income. But the option should be available to them.

HEALTH - NIKKI PINO

How would you address Utah’s high rates of depression and suicide and low access to mental health care?I want to bring mental health to the forefront of our health care system. Provide appropriate funding and coverage by insurance to help people get the help they need. I would address the public and families to be open and communicative about these issues … and make sure they have all the options and avenues to get the help they need.

What should the state do about burdensome drug costs? Put into legislation a limit to what drug companies can charge and mandate a requirement for insurance to cover all medication [at] a certain percentage, as well as help mitigate the costs and make it easier for lower income people to afford their medications.

If elected, would you defend the state’s 18-week abortion ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not? I am torn between pro-life and pro-choice. I think we need more education about sex and fair and balanced legislation [in the] middle ground to accomodate both sides... I believe that in instances of rape, incest, and [protecting] the life of the mother… [abortion] options should be available without consequence. As for 18 weeks, personally I’m not sure and would turn to medical/women professionals [for their view on] what an appropriate time is to set as a limit.

Should Utah join its neighboring states in legalizing recreational marijuana? Why or why not? Personally, no I wouldn’t, but it depends on what the majority of the state’s population decides... Being the governor is [being] the representative of all the Utahn people and to carry out their will.

However, I am all for the legalization of medical/medicinal cannabis.

Should it be legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients? Explain. If it is something that the majority of the population of Utah wants to have legalized I would support their decision.

Do you support the Republican attorneys general lawsuit, joined by Utah’s Sean Reyes, attempting to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional? Explain.No, I don’t support it…. I would work to make an even better system than what we’ve had, have, and will have. We need to rebuild the system from the ground up to help simplify it because there is too much corruption, too many loopholes, red tape, bureaucracy, etc, that is causing many people to suffer unnecessarily.

GROWTH - NIKKI PINO

If elected, what would you do to promote the development of affordable housing in the state?Multiple points of improvement would be increasing wages, putting a soft limit on rent per area based on income, how many rooms, etc, to allow continued development, but not at the cost of people’s ability [afford a home].

How should the state reduce homelessness even as its population grows?We need to not only improve our rehabilitation programs to help homeless people get back on their feet, but we need to desperately improve our ‘prevention’ programs to keep [them] from becoming homeless in the first place.

How would you plan for and fund the transportation improvements the state will need to meet its increasing demands? Change the budget from constant, never-ending freeway construction to developing a subway system, cross county and state railways. Adjust unnecessary budget expenditures [and impose] taxes on larger corporations and more to have a robust program to make sure we are prepared for the increase [in traffic] instead of reacting and trying to catch up.

How would you like to see the inland port area develop? Create a more business-oriented center rather than solely for loading/unloading and transporting goods. If we have land to use we should make sure not to mess with the environment by adding more pollution, [and we should] bring in businesses that will help grow our workforce and economy, and not [have land] solely be used to benefit developers and businesses at the cost of our ecosystem and citizens losing their jobs.

What’s your plan for stimulating economic expansion in rural parts of the state?Bringing in alternative energy businesses. With cross county and state transportation we can increase travel through these areas which can bring businesses and people stopping by or passing through.

What are your plans for making life in Utah less dependent on personal vehicles?Huge development in mass transit is one of my primary platforms. More buses and trams, a subway system, more long distance railways, all using electricity or other alternative sources. This will create jobs, reduce emissions, improve economic growth and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

EQUITY - NIKKI PINO

Do you think Utah should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? Why or why not?Yes…. Everyone regardless of race, class, gender, should be allowed equal rights not only because they are Americans, but also because they are human. We all deserve justice, guaranteed by our beliefs and government.

Do you have any diversity goals for your Cabinet and state boards and commissions?I would love diversity because there are many … capable and talented people. I will hire anyone who shares good judgment, functions by morals and ethics [and] not by how much money they can make or what businesses they work for. We need better leaders ... working for the people, not for themselves.

Would you support a state employee salary survey to identify any wage gaps?Yes. Along with encouraging people within their own businesses to discuss their wages with their coworkers. This will create a more open environment and make identifying wages easier.

What would you do to break down barriers for women and minorities in the private and public sectors?Make sure there is no legislation that may be a roadblock to them, encourage those in the workforce to pursue higher positions, raises, etc., within their job or profession, create open lines of communication for those that are discriminated against to get help and notify us of any wrongdoing.

ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS - NIKKI PINO

Do you believe in human-caused climate change? (Yes or no) Yes.

What should the state government do to reduce emissions?Vastly expand our public transportation and pursue alternative forms of energy.

Should Utah be spending millions of dollars in coal export infrastructure? Why or why not?Yes and no…. There are many things developed from coal such as carbon fiber and mesh which are used in everything from computers, medical equipment, law enforcement armor, etc. Different means of using the resource would be advantageous to us as a society for quality of life improvements. But for fixing our environment we should stop … [filling] the already deep pockets of big oil and coal companies, especially at the cost of people’s livelihood and health.

Do you support taking the federal government to court to determine whether states can take ownership of the public land within their borders?Having federal protection and funding for specific lands is a good thing. However, we should have stipulations that allow the state to have final say in any change of status of the lands within our state boundary.

Will you be accepting campaign contributions from EnergySolutions? (Yes or no) Yes.





TAXES

SPENCER COX

The constitutional earmark on income tax revenue for education demonstrates a strong commitment to robust education funding. We should not remove the earmark or reduce our constitutional commitment to providing Utah students with the funding needed for a world-class education. I will preserve the existing earmark and will only consider altering it if broad consensus emerges around a plan that would improve Utah’s constitutional promise to fund public education. By strengthening the constitutional guarantee and continuing to grow our economy, we can recruit and retain the very best teachers at higher compensation levels without raising tax rates. This is my number one priority as governor.

Editor’s Note: After the legislative session ended, Cox revised his response to the following.

I support the compromise reached during the legislative session creating greater flexibility in state spending while committing to guaranteed funding for Utah’s schools. This solution was agreed to by the governor, Legislature, educators, state and local school boards and superintendents. The issue now goes to the voters of Utah on the November ballot as the proposal requires a change to the state constitution. While this is a good first step, additional enhancements to education funding are still needed.

CHRIS PETERSON

I support full funding of Utah’s public education system so children receive the best education possible. For too long, we have lagged behind other states in providing resources to educate our kids. Removing the constitutional earmark would be a step in the wrong direction. We need to ensure sufficient income tax revenue to build a public education system that is first-class in our nation.

SPENCER COX

Thirty-two states don’t tax food, and Utah shouldn’t either. There are other ways to balance our budget that do not include taxing food or decreasing education funding

CHRIS PETERSON

Any tax on food harms Utah’s poor and struggling residents. Not having enough to eat hurts our community at every level. Taxing food is bad for the economy, for education, for health, and for public safety.

SPENCER COX

Utah’s current tax system generates enough revenue to fund existing government services. While it is smart to regularly review the tax code to explore ways to streamline, reduce, or modernize Utah’s taxes, Utah does not need to expand taxes on service transactions. State leaders will need to be both creative and thoughtful as they adjust the budget now that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the state’s fiscal situation and anticipated revenues. Some belt tightening will be required.

CHRIS PETERSON

To satisfy Utah state law and to have annual balanced budgets, we should consider gradual tax increases on financial sales and some service transactions if needed. Incremental tax increases on fossil fuel refineries, luxuries, and hotels may be appropriate but must be carefully managed and used responsibly.

SPENCER COX

I am a fiscal conservative who believes Utah can’t tax its way to prosperity. Taxes need to be as low as possible but still be able to fund the services needed for a dynamic, caring, and prosperous society. We should redesign our state tax code with an emphasis on reducing complexity and avoiding picking winners and losers. As governor, I will push for a limited, effective government that spends wisely and avoids overreaching and wasteful spending.

CHRIS PETERSON

A state lottery is inconsistent with our traditions and would tend to tax those who can least afford it. Instead, Utah should consider returning to a progressive income tax where the wealthiest Utahns pay a little more than our lower-income families. As a state one of our core values should be that for those of us to whom much has been given, a bit more is expected.



EDUCATION

SPENCER COX

Rather than empowering parents and allowing for transparency, the current system of education governance confuses and obfuscates education decision-making and accountability. Very few people know who their state school board member is or what they do. The current system also encourages well-intentioned but often conflicting and uncoordinated political interference from the Legislature. We need to reduce the politicization of education and bring real accountability to the education system by repealing state board elections and replacing them with a governor-appointed, Senate-confirmed board.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this response mentioned Cox’s support for Rep. Melissa Ballard’s legislation to replace state board elections with a governor-appointed board. The bill failed in the Legislature earlier this year.

CHRIS PETERSON

The Board of Education selection process should include input from professional educators and should emphasize balance and civility. Our Board of Education should avoid partisan rancor, extremism, or ideological crusades.

SPENCER COX

No. Over the past several decades, the actions of federal and state lawmakers, while well-intentioned, have resulted in a top-heavy approach to public education which often leaves our under-compensated teachers constrained by excessive mandates, assessments, and regulations. This top-down approach prevents educators from enacting innovative and creative approaches they know will improve student outcomes. This leads to disillusionment and discouragement. When teachers lose the joy of teaching, students are deprived of the joy of learning, and much of the fault lies with our own state policies that prioritize test scores over students.

Not only do I support the removal of school letter grading, but I also support the removal of high-stakes testing for Utah students.

CHRIS PETERSON

No. The George W. Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” policy was well-intended but flawed, and has harmed Utah’s public schools with too many arbitrary standardized tests and by diverting money out of schools that teach some of our most vulnerable children. Schools should not be struggling to meet punitive benchmarks set by outside groups. We need to empower our teachers to nurture and educate our kids.

SPENCER COX

Today, Utah teacher salaries are among the lowest in the nation. Roughly 3,000 teachers leave the classroom each year. Nearly 50% of Utah teachers quit teaching within five years from when they started. A lack of quality teachers will inevitably lead to poor education outcomes.

As governor, I will work with the Legislature to put us on a path to pay Utah’s starting teachers $60,000. We cannot continue to expect our educators to work second jobs and pay for classroom expenses out of their own pockets.

CHRIS PETERSON

We should also give teachers the respect they deserve. They are the foundation of a good economy and good citizenry. Utah has some of the largest student-teacher ratios in the nation. Too many of our best teachers face burnout and leave the classroom after only a few years on the job. We need to increase compensation and provide more resources for textbooks, supplies, technology support, special needs students, counseling, and career training.

SPENCER COX

This is not the question we should be asking. I am more interested in improving student outcomes and in doing everything possible to prepare Utah’s kids for the future. Increased funding will play a key part in accomplishing that goal, but it is not the only or even the most important factor. We became the number one economy in the nation by cutting regulation and empowering entrepreneurs. We can become the top performing state in education by empowering teachers and reducing top-down mandates…. Likewise, principals need the authority and tools to both hire the best teachers – and fire bad teachers.

CHRIS PETERSON

Absolutely. I agree with Gov. [Gary] Herbert who sees these problems, and has urged the Legislature to: (1) Raise public school teacher salaries significantly — at least to the levels in our neighboring states; (2) Reduce the student-teacher classroom ratios by recruiting and retaining new teachers; (3) Doing more to encourage parents to volunteer and help teaching by sharing their expertise; and (4) using the latest computer and internet technologies in classrooms to prepare our children for the future. Our goal should be to create the finest public education system in America.

SPENCER COX

As is the case with all government expenditures, transparency is key. It’s extremely disruptive for students, parents and teachers when a charter school closes. I support increased transparency in education spending for both district and charter schools. With today’s technology, it should be much easier to track how, where and why each dollar is used.

CHRIS PETERSON

I’m troubled by the lack of oversight and transparency of some of our charter schools. I’m also concerned that parents face long commutes, adding to our traffic congestion and air quality problems, just to find a quality education for the kids they love. The best solution is building first-class public schools in every neighborhood that create civic pride and a sense of belonging for everyone. Some charter schools are doing well, particularly when they serve children with special needs or interests.

SPENCER COX

The people of Utah have spoken clearly that they support our current system consisting of a strong public education that provides additional choices — charter, private, and homeschool. Our current model strikes a happy medium between allowing parents and students the choice to attend a private or charter school and the comfort of knowing their district school will be a safe and secure option. Further, vouchers would be detrimental to students and teachers in rural Utah. I’m willing to consider alternative funding mechanisms such as vouchers only after our public school system is adequately funded.

CHRIS PETERSON

No. In a 2007 statewide referendum, Utah voters — in all 29 Utah counties — overwhelmingly rejected the Legislature’s effort to hand over taxpayer dollars to private schools with minimum oversight. I will always listen to the people.



HEALTH

SPENCER COX

Protecting public health, individual freedom and economic opportunity has been our state’s number one priority over the last several months.

I am proud of the thoughtful, decisive actions policy makers took during the chaotic and uncertain early days of the crisis. The extensive coordination that took place throughout every level of government helped us to find quick, meaningful solutions that have kept us safe. But more importantly, I’m grateful for the actions of citizens everywhere who have sacrificed to protect the health and safety of others, while also donating and volunteering to help those who are struggling economically. These difficult times have once again brought out the best of Utahns.

While there has been a recent increase in cases, overall, Utah remains in a very strong position compared to many other states in the nation. As Governor, I can assure you that Utah will focus first on the health and safety of its citizens, and lead the nation in our economic recovery efforts.

CHRIS PETERSON

Utah’s medical professionals, frontline workers, and first responders have worked heroically during the pandemic. While I also appreciate the efforts of leaders in state government, there have been many missteps.

State government has wasted time and taxpayer funds on unproven medical treatments, costly no-bid contracts, and cell phone tracking technology that does not work. Testing for the disease has faced significant delays, including ongoing problems providing timely test results in our highest risk populations such as the meat packing facility in Hyrum, Utah. Although the number of Utahns facing food insecurity has more than doubled during the crisis, Utah has not applied for approximately $50 million in food assistance benefits for low-income families authorized by Congress since March under the Pandemic-EBT program. Unlike many states, Utah did not extend the duration of our residential eviction moratorium to prevent a spike in homelessness and has lagged in providing assistance to small residential landlords. Far too many Utahns, including thousands of frontline workers, still do not have access to scientifically recommended personal protective equipment such as N95 masks. The Department of Financial Institutions has been flat-footed in helping protect consumers from illegal debt collection practices, stopping scams and fraud, providing critical information on mortgage loans to consumers, and encouraging emergency lending to small businesses.

Payday loan companies continue to trap struggling low-income families with triple-digit interest rate predatory loans. State communication with the restaurant industry has been confusing and inconsistent. Despite the best efforts of teachers, our chronically underfunded public school system struggled to adapt to the shut-down and is not well prepared for school to resume in the fall. Overall the state’s pandemic response has been most effective for wealthy Utahns and large businesses.

SPENCER COX

I have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Governor Herbert over the past seven years, helping lead Utah to unprecedented economic strength. The Cox-Henderson administration will combine our collective experience to do it again.

First of all, we will continue to implement the Utah Leads Together plan and also implement the Cox-Henderson Self-Reliant Utah Plan, which looks beyond the immediate recovery and identifies steps to increase Utah’s long-term resiliency, prioritize in-state manufacturing and commerce, build essential supply chains and incentivize local business growth by cultivating an economic environment founded on low taxes and fewer regulations. As I have over the past several years, we will prioritize our work with Utah’s small business and tech leaders, agriculture community, civic groups, and local elected officials. Together, we will identify and cut unnecessary regulations, support smart infrastructure, unleash Utah’s education potential, boost rural Utah, and promote other pro-growth policies that will enhance Utah businesses’ ability to once again prosper.

CHRIS PETERSON

I have a seven point plan to build a vibrant Utah economy. First, Utah needs a more effective public health response to give consumers and businesses the confidence they need to resume economic activity. The state’s failure to contain the virus is slowing economic development and causing high unemployment. Utah government must more proactively connect businesses and families with already available federal economic relief programs and should be working with financial institutions to provide no-interest emergency loans to struggling businesses. The state should offer tax deferment plans to give businesses that need it more time to pay their taxes. And, we should bond for shovel-ready construction and infrastructure projects to spark growth.

Second, Utah needs a coordinated effort to create the most innovative technology hub in the world. We need to fund and revitalize our education system to train a deep bench of talented workers including the coders, data scientists, biologists, and engineers that will attract and grow more high technology jobs of the future. We should work with technology, bio-medical, and manufacturing industries to identify staffing needs and create educational pipelines from high school through trade schools, community colleges, and Universities directly into industry. Utah should leverage our Universities to invent new technology and grow start-up businesses.

Third, we should facilitate entrepreneurialism by maintaining low taxes, promoting access to affordable health care for small businesses and their employees, stimulating affordable housing, and cutting red tape wherever possible.

Fourth, Utah should more effectively combat fraud, scams, and other consumer abuses that undermine trust, lead to costly litigation, disrupt employment, and decrease the quality of life for Utah workers.

Fifth, I would implement a rural economic development plan including a future farmers student loan assistance program, water infrastructure improvements, internet broadband, technology sector teleworking, and green-energy jobs.

Sixth, Utah must plan for population growth with infrastructure improvements, affordable housing development, and greater access to mass transit along the Wasatch Front.

And finally, I support increasing Utah’s minimum wage to put more money in the pockets of workers and more customers with money in their pockets for Utah businesses. Gradually increasing the minimum wage will spur job growth, economic development, and lessen economic inequality.

SPENCER COX

One of my most important duties as lieutenant governor has been to co-chair the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Task Force. We have been working diligently for years to bring about meaningful change for those suffering with mental health challenges. Depression and suicide in Utah are more than a serious public health problem; it’s a tragedy that must continue to be addressed with the utmost attention.

Through our efforts, we have passed dozens of measures into law and dedicated millions in funding toward lifesaving resources. Utahns now have immediate access to experts through the SafeUT app and Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams, significantly more mental health professionals and school counselors, and better mental and behavioral health integration in our health care system. But there is much more to do.

CHRIS PETERSON

For years our state has experienced high rates of emotional depression throughout our population, from stressed mothers and older men to teenagers feeling bullied and Utah’s LGBTQ groups who feel excluded and rejected. Tragically, 85% of deaths by a firearm in Utah are apparent suicides. We need a coordinated group response — a collaboration that includes government at all levels (state, counties, cities), Utah’s business community, nonprofits, our colleges and universities, faith leaders, and first responders (police, fire, paramedics). This partnership should include a plan to provide more funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment, educating the public about suicide risk factors and access to help, building social support networks, and making a special effort to include rural areas.

SPENCER COX

We can maintain a high quality of care while tackling the problem of rising health care costs through sound policy, collaborative partnerships with contemporary healthcare providers, and by working with manufacturers to make sure no one is ever again placed in a situation where they are priced out of access to lifesaving medications and measures.

As governor, I’ll support legislation that requires greater transparency regarding prescription drug prices, allow drugmakers to promote and market drugs off-label if the information consists of ''truthful promotion'' of a drug and support efforts to speed approval of cheaper generics.

CHRIS PETERSON

Utah should expand Medicaid to the fullest possible extent, do away with inefficient barriers to access, partner with innovative nonprofits like Civica Rx, and lobby the federal government to pass comprehensive health care reform that includes prescription price policy. Utah’s citizens and businesses should also use the free market to reduce costs wherever possible, including purchasing the same pharmaceuticals in Canada and Mexico when feasible.

SPENCER COX

I have always tried to be a voice for the most vulnerable in our society, those facing intergenerational poverty, refugees, the LGBTQ community, our multicultural communities — and yes, the unborn. While I also believe we should do more to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and support single mothers, pregnant women and children facing poverty and trauma, I continue to be unapologetically pro-life. As such, I would support the state’s 18-week abortion ban in any judicial proceeding.

CHRIS PETERSON

No. The matter has already been resolved by Roe v. Wade.

SPENCER COX

No. Utah should continue to support the compromise that was passed ... to allow the responsible use of medical cannabis under the direction of licensed professionals.

CHRIS PETERSON

I support allowing physicians to prescribe medically necessary cannabis to help those suffering from illness or pain. On the other hand, Utah voters and the Legislature have not supported legalization for recreational use. I agree and believe Utah should wait for further evidence and scientific study of the outcomes in our neighboring states.

SPENCER COX

No. Life is precious.

CHRIS PETERSON

It is not the government’s place to intrude upon the private health care decisions made between a patient, families, and their doctor. Those suffering from terminal illnesses deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at the end of their lives.

SPENCER COX

The Affordable Care Act centralizes power and money in the federal government in an alarming and unprecedented fashion and takes more health care decisions away from patients and doctors and places them in the hands of politicians and federal bureaucrats. I continue to have serious concerns about the law’s constitutionality and believe it should be challenged.

Regardless of what happens with litigation, we must focus on bringing overall health care costs down…. In the long-term, lower costs will do more to expand coverage than an unsustainable universal mandate.

CHRIS PETERSON

No. This lawsuit threatens access to affordable health care for thousands of Utahns and is a wasteful use of taxpayer funds. I believe health care is a basic human right. In the 21st century our country can afford to provide basic medical care to every American.



GROWTH

SPENCER COX

Private sector attempts to find ways to reduce building costs should be supported. We also have a severe shortage in employees in the construction trades and need to ensure that students who want to pursue careers in construction have a viable pathway to those jobs. We should further explore and allow innovation in financing construction and home ownership. Finally, governmental decisions around zoning, building requirements and other fees and regulations often make housing much more expensive. And while many of these decisions must be left to local elected officials, the state can play a vital role in providing necessary infrastructure and coordinating regional planning necessary to increase density in strategic locations while maintaining the high quality of life that Utahns have come to expect.

CHRIS PETERSON

We should increase funding for emergency rent subsidies to keep families from eviction. The state can also help expand the supply of affordable housing by strengthening policies for allocating existing resources, expanding the financial resources available for affordable housing, and offering incentives to developers and municipalities to promote the development of affordable homes.

SPENCER COX

I support appointing an administrator to coordinate state homeless policy in Utah. Our responsibility to the poorest among us is too great not to dedicate a full-time expert to advance communication between varying jurisdictions and proactively identify solutions.

Together, we must continue to develop and implement data-driven and compassionate policies that lend toward self-sufficiency, carefully invest our community resources, and ensure that systems and services are coordinated for their best use.

By pursuing the state’s new Strategic Plan on Homelessness, which includes a renewed focus on housing, better access to individualized casework and expanded treatment options, Utah will see our homeless population continue to decrease.

CHRIS PETERSON

Urban poverty and homelessness is far easier to recognize, but homelessness is a problem in some of Utah’s rural areas as well. As governor, I would work relentlessly with Utah’s community partners including nonprofits, churches, the business community and government at all levels in addition to law enforcement to help ease and reduce this terrible problem. In Utah’s largest city, Salt Lake City, … I am concerned that we may not have sufficient beds and resources to accommodate our rapidly growing population. We must also recognize our jails are not efficient or cost effective in treating mental health problems or addiction.

SPENCER COX

Some projections estimate two million more residents in Utah by 2050. To meet the growing transportation needs that will accompany our growing population, I fully endorse the Wasatch Choice 2050 Vision. This plan was developed by a broad-based coalition of transportation experts, elected officials and citizens groups. It is comprehensive but also nimble enough to allow for the unique needs and circumstances of different communities.

I also support the Utah Department of Transportation efforts to determine potential alternatives to the gas tax (including the feasibility of a vehicle miles traveled approach to road funding). As technology and innovation lead to greater adoption of electric vehicles, electric vehicle users must also be investing in the infrastructure they benefit from. Protections must be provided to rural Utahns who have no choice but to drive farther distances on a regular basis.

CHRIS PETERSON

In the short term, I support transitioning to Tier 3 gasoline that would significantly reduce vehicle pollutants. We also need an ambitious plan to incentivize electric and hybrid vehicles. In our densely populated areas, Utah should adapt by reprioritizing our infrastructure investment from roads to rail and from cars to buses. We need to make mass transit fast and affordable. With almost 40% of Utah’s population living in the Salt Lake Valley, many Utahns would benefit from expanding our light rail system.

SPENCER COX

The inland port is critical to Utah’s continued economic success, both along the Wasatch Front and in rural Utah. That’s why it has been in Salt Lake City’s Master Plan since the 1970s. It will connect critical infrastructure throughout all of Utah, bridging our most rural economies to major ports in Seattle, Los Angeles and Oakland.

While I recognize some have concerns, there is really no reason for the inland port to be controversial. With improved representation for locally impacted entities and a commitment to renewable energy and sustainable resources, the inland port can be a model to the nation. In fact, an environmentally friendly inland port isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s necessary to attract capital investment in the modern economy. As governor, I will ensure Utah’s inland port is the most environmentally friendly port in the country.

CHRIS PETERSON

The inland port development should be directed by Salt Lake City.

SPENCER COX

As the only candidate that lives off the Wasatch Front, this is personal. My dad always said our greatest export in rural Utah is our kids. It’s time that changed. Rural Utah supplies critical resources to the entire state: water, energy, food and recreation. Just as I have visited all 248 cities in Utah, my administration will represent every community in Utah by installing an additional rural chief of staff and a geographically diverse Cabinet. We will continue to move jobs to rural Utah, expand the Rural Online Initiative utilizing teleworking technology, improve broadband access and empower and encourage rural entrepreneurs.

The prosperity of rural Utah will also help to alleviate growth pressures along the Wasatch Front and improve our air quality, transportation gridlock and housing affordability.

CHRIS PETERSON

I support creating inland port satellite hubs in rural locations, tax incentives for new businesses in underdeveloped rural areas and promoting more tourism. Utah government can also spur development and decrease costs by gradually transitioning state offices to more rural areas located throughout the state. We should also incentivize remote work for government and private employees alike so Utahns can work from the beautiful and unique places they prefer to live. I would also fight to pass a Utah Young Farmers Success Act that would establish a student debt forgiveness program for college and community college graduates who serve our state working on family farms and ranches.

SPENCER COX

Improving air quality, minimizing congestion, developing affordable and convenient mass transit and promoting alternative fuel options are my goals. While this may lead to a decreased dependence on personal vehicles, it is not a goal in and of itself.

Living in rural Utah, I know how vital personal vehicles are to the lifestyle and livelihood of those who live off the Wasatch Front. I will never use the power of government to take away people’s freedom, including their preferred means of transportation. However, I do believe government can play a role in encouraging market-based solutions, addressing externalities and facilitating choices. By focusing on the objectives above, we can clean our air and achieve the quality of life we all seek in our great state.

CHRIS PETERSON

We should expand light rail in our urban areas, schedule more frequent small UTA buses and increase telecommuting. I also propose working with local governments to set their own land-use policies to incentivize modern, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-used environments that help Utahns stay close to home and out of their cars.



EQUITY

SPENCER COX

What happened to George Floyd was a travesty. Police brutality, in any form, is never acceptable.

The vast majority of law enforcement officers are caring, well-trained professionals who put their lives at risk to keep our communities safe. I know many of them personally, and I know their hearts. They deserve our thanks and appreciation. However, changes are important.

I support policies that would minimize and de-escalate conflict, improve collaboration and understanding. Specifically, I support a complete ban on knee and chokeholds, more transparency in cases of police misconduct, and enhanced oversight and training. However it would be a mistake to defund our public safety departments. Instead, we should be investing more in training and giving them the tools they need to bring out the best of law enforcement.

I will also continue to prioritize clear lines of communication from my office and Utah’s communities of color to ensure the most important voices on this issue are heard, and that open dialogue is always the norm.

CHRIS PETERSON

Recently I have been visiting with friends, neighbors, and leaders in Utah’s Black community and I have been listening to their stories. The racial violence that killed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others before them harkens back to hundreds of years of oppression and unfair treatment of Black Americans. For too long racial disparities have persisted in work and wealth, in health care and education, in the very things that can enrich our lives, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They have told me that many Black Utahns feel they are often treated unfairly by the police, by our government, and by society in general. They tell me that they are treated as though their hopes, dreams, and lives matter less than others.

Utah leaders need to do a better job recognizing and celebrating Black Utahns and other people of color for adding to our state’s diverse and vibrant cultural mosaic. Black Utahns and other people of color need to know Utah’s leaders and law enforcement agencies are listening to their concerns and recognizing that black lives matter. As Governor I would work to end systemic racism, implicit bias, and economic inequality. I am committed to law enforcement reforms including implicit bias training, conflict deescalation, improved funding for mental health treatment, reducing unnecessarily long incarceration, revising use of force policies, and empowering community policing boards. At the same time, all Utahns must respect the rule of law and recognize that police officers deserve civility, safety, and support.

SPENCER COX

Utah’s constitution has its own Equal Rights clause: “The rights of citizens of the State of Utah to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this State shall enjoy all civil, political and religious rights and privileges.” I support this language and firmly believe that men and women should be treated equally in Utah and throughout the United States. The national ERA, however, suffers a fatal flaw in that the time for states to ratify the amendment expired 40 years ago. Most legal scholars, (including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) recognize that the process would have to start again in Congress. Any new ERA should work to clarify lingering questions (including women in the draft, abortion impacts, etc.). Perhaps Utah’s constitutional language would be a good place to start.

CHRIS PETERSON

Yes. I believe all people deserve equal rights under our laws. The Equal Rights Amendment would simply provide that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Currently 35 of the 50 state legislatures have ratified the amendment but Utah declined to do so back in 1975. More recently, public opinion polls have found a majority of Utahns now support ratification. If I am elected governor and the Legislature passes the Equal Rights Amendment, then I would enthusiastically sign this simple and long-overdue amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

SPENCER COX

Senior government positions in my administration will be filled with the best, most qualified, and most committed individuals who share my vision of a conservative, civil and compassionate Utah. Utah’s government should be a model for the nation. To do that will require hiring individuals from all genders, races and backgrounds. My only quota will be to hire people who demonstrate the right character, qualifications and obvious passion for Utah. As an original board member of the Women’s Leadership Institute and the chairman of the Governor’s Multicultural Commission, I understand that oftentimes the best candidates must be sought out. I will work hard to make sure that we look to and encourage diverse applicants to join our administration. I am proud of the Herbert-Cox administration for its record number of women being appointed as judges, leading state agencies and as trusted members of senior staff.

CHRIS PETERSON

I believe in hiring the best person for any job — in the public or private sector. Ensuring that our government reflects the diversity of our state’s population is an important way to strengthen our communities and improve leadership. Diversity is one of America’s greatest assets. Our Utah state boards and commissions will better serve the public interest by embracing and celebrating our differences.

SPENCER COX

Yes. I did this very thing with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. Ultimately, we did realize there was a discrepancy in one case, and rectified it immediately. I would require the same action for each state government agency during my first year as governor.

CHRIS PETERSON

Yes, absolutely. I oppose discrimination in all forms — including wage discrimination. It is essential that changes in public policy should always be based upon sound data and science. If our state government is engaging in wage discrimination, we should identify the root causes and work to overcome it.

SPENCER COX

The first thing the state can do is to lead by example, as I have done in the Lieutenant Governor's Office. As a board member of the Women’s Leadership Institute and the chairman of the Multicultural Commission, I have had the opportunity to work to increase representation of women and minorities in significant ways. Too often qualified women and minorities do not apply for positions because they feel unqualified or simply don’t know the opportunities exist. We must be intentional in seeking them out. Second, the lack of flexible work arrangements presents a significant challenge to women. I want Utah to become the leading “flex-state” in the nation in part to encourage and facilitate women and minorities participating in leadership roles. Lastly, evidence strongly suggests that more women and minorities can participate in the workforce if opportunities are available to help them develop leadership, increase their confidence and leverage their natural strengths.

CHRIS PETERSON

A recent study by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute documented that Utah now has 129 different languages spoken, including 106 languages in Salt Lake County alone. Utah is now a culturally diverse state with many new immigrants and refugees from all around the world. All of these people are our brothers and sisters and must not suffer any form of discrimination. Our plans should include adding child care centers to state office buildings, promoting flexible work hours and telecommuting opportunities for working parents, and building networks with internship and training programs for minority professionals.



ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS

SPENCER COX

Yes — but the solution is not destroying our economy or pushing unrealistic policy proposals that only serve to fire up political bases, divide communities and diminish our prosperity. Building consensus on sustainability policies requires leadership.

CHRIS PETERSON

Yes. The scientific evidence is overwhelming and increasing every year. Each year in this 21st century we have seen the temperature of our planet rise. In Utah we see our trees dying, the desert expanding, our water needs increasing, and agricultural output declining…. The evidence is clear that climate change will be one of our generation’s greatest challenges. By relying on our strength, our creativity, our intelligence and on facts and science, we can rise to this challenge.

SPENCER COX

The truth is our air is cleaner today than at any time during our lifetime. In fact, overall emissions of all pollutants during inversion season declined 30.5% between 2011 and 2019. For the first time in almost two decades the Wasatch Front has been moved out of nonattainment designation by the EPA.

However, this does not mean we can or should stop improving our air quality. As nearly 50% of our emissions come from mobile sources, we need to aggressively promote Tier 3 fuel, expedite the transition of the state fleet to cleaner CNG, RNG or electric vehicles, and develop a fast-charge EV infrastructure statewide that is as accessible as gasoline.

During my four-year term, I will work to reduce overall emissions by an additional 25%.

CHRIS PETERSON

As governor I would set a goal of leading Utah to a net-zero carbon emission future. To achieve this I would support tax incentives to accelerate electric vehicle use; to encourage commercial, government, and residential investment in rooftop solar power; to develop commercial wind and solar power plants in rural Utah; and, modify building codes at the state level to require energy efficient new construction.

SPENCER COX

Yes. Coal produced in Utah is among the cleanest coal produced in the entire world, and we must build the necessary infrastructure to export it efficiently to economies that still rely on coal in the United States and abroad. Not only is this in our economic interest, but the more coal that is produced in Utah and exported the healthier the environment will be across the globe. When these markets transition to renewable energy sources, such as natural gas, Utah will be ready to meet these needs as well.

CHRIS PETERSON

I believe millions of Utah taxpayer dollars should be spent wisely as Utah transitions to a clean energy future. I believe we need to be aware that our nation’s national economy has been changing, and I would prefer not to spend millions of Utah taxpayer dollars to fight expensive lawsuits. Utah is transitioning from a state dependent on mining and fossil fuels to high-tech industries. As governor and as a fiscal conservative, I would be concerned with the welfare of all Utahns and the damage to Utah’s natural environment, tourism and public health. However, I support development projects, including in solar, wind and geothermal power, especially in those communities hardest hit by the decreasing competitiveness of our coal industry.

SPENCER COX

Yes, and I am pleased this action now has bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Utah Legislature. This issue has been the subject of controversy in our state for generations and should be put to rest once and for all.

As someone who farms just outside federal land, I know that Utahns love and appreciate their public lands more than anyone else. Current federal land policies and processes are often inefficient and dysfunctional. Today’s D.C.-based, top-down management approach fails to adequately reflect the views and input of Utahns, and that should change.

Public lands are part of what makes Utah different. It’s part of our heritage. As governor, I will work with our federal partners to promote land management policies that allow for greater state management opportunities to ensure Utah’s lands are managed responsibly and that all stakeholders in Utah are considered fairly.

Editor’s note: The assertion about bipartisan support for a federal lawsuit rests on House Minority Leader Brian King’s backing of this move. But King told The Tribune that he is confident that Utah will lose the lawsuit and he believes that may hasten an end to the long-running push to put federal public lands under state control.

CHRIS PETERSON

No.

SPENCER COX

No

CHRIS PETERSON

No








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