Democrat Ted Wilson formally announced his gubernatorial candidacy Wednesday, saying Utah's ship of state is adrift, lost with no leadership.
He also said, "I will not raise your taxes" a pledge Republican and independent gubernatorial candidates have already made in this tax-conscious election year.Wilson announced in Ogden to show how important Weber County is to his race. While leading in early public opinion polls against his three opponents Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter, Republican Jon Huntsman and independent Merrill Cook because Utah is so heavily Republican, Wilson will have to win Weber and Salt Lake counties big if he hopes to capture the governorship in November.
Wilson will make other announcement speeches, some combined with fund-raising events, throughout Utah the next several days. He plans to raise $1 million during the campaign and has about $150,000 now.
This is Wilson's second statewide campaign. In 1982 he lost a race against Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Wilson was mayor of Salt Lake City from 1976 to June 1985, when he resigned to become director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.
While never mentioning Bangerter by name in his speech, Wilson criticized the governor's running of the state.
"Our ship of state is adrift, floating without direction in uncharted waters. The captain and his senior officers don't know where we are or where we are going," Wilson said.
"After more than three years at the helm, we are still without a plan for the future, and the people of our state are painfully aware that the current administration lacks the vision to formulate such a plan and the leadership to implement it.
"This administration, with their monopoly on elected state offices and with strong legislative majorities, has stood by and watched Utah's progress slow down and grind to a halt. I can no longer watch this from the sidelines, and neither can you," Wilson said in a prepared text scheduled for presentation in the Ogden Hilton Wednesday evening.
He said this is the most important gubernatorial election in 20 years. "Leadership is more critical now than at any time in the recent past. Utah has got to be turned around now!"
Among the woes placed at the feet of the Bangerter administration by Wilson:
30,000 Utahns have moved out of the state in the past three years, most of them in search of jobs.
Only 6,400 new jobs were created in 1987, compared to 34,000 jobs in the last year of former Gov. Scott M. Matheson's administration (Matheson, a Democrat, is Wilson's campaign co-chairman).
Residential building permits dropped last year by 50 percent from the year before, the lowest since World War II.
Just two years into Bangerter's administration, the average annual pay for Utahns was 88 percent of the national average. In 1984 it was 94 percent.
When Bangerter took office, Matheson left him a $100 million surplus. That was spent, and now there is no surplus.
Wilson praised Utahns as people who, from pioneer days on, have overcome tremendous obstacles. But they must be led by the right people, he said.
Wilson said he's that man, and his record as Salt Lake City's mayor proves it.
"During my years in office we saw the creation of 40,000 new jobs in Salt Lake and more than half-a-billion dollars worth of construction. We created a world-class international airport.
"Guided by our dreams and aspirations, and working together in concert, with well-defined goals and determined leadership,
we accomplished an enormous task," Wilson said. He now proposes for the state:
An economic development effort led, not by state bureaucrats, but by businessmen, local government leaders and citizens.
Education reform aimed at decentralizing the entire system, shifting decision-making from state to local districts, parents and teachers.
Revamping of the tax code to make it "scrupulously fair." "I will not raise your taxes; to do so would harm our comeback.
"We need new leadership to awaken the strong tradition of community that has been so much a part of Utah history; a leader to awaken the remarkable human values that have brought us through difficult times. We are a tough, no-nonsense people. We are the first to help a neighbor in trouble, but we also expect to take care of our own. We are fair and independent.