The year 2017 was a very fine year for Utah. I hope all Deseret News readers and their families enjoyed a great year.
As I look back at the issues and events of 2017, a few things stand out that I believe helped Utah experience a terrific year.
The first is the general good character and generosity of Utahns. The foundation of a successful society, good government and a healthy economy is strong families, integrity and hardworking citizens. We are blessed to have that solid foundation in Utah, and out of it comes quality governance, stability in society and well-managed businesses.
Our good citizens vote for good leaders who almost all serve for the right reasons. We have an excellent congressional delegation, governor and other statewide leaders, and a Legislature that deals forthrightly with Utah’s challenges on a bipartisan basis. Our leaders are problem-solvers, and they get things done.
Our local officials are equally dedicated and serve the citizens of their cities and counties well.
There is much less fame and glory in public service, and a lot more unnoticed hard work and lonely decision-making, than most of us realize. We owe our elected and appointed officials more support and appreciation than they often get.
Solid citizens and good governance led to many highlights in 2017. I’ve picked out just a few:
- In the face of tumultuous and sometimes dysfunctional national politics, Utah showed how government is supposed to work. We enjoy a balanced budget, relatively low taxes, a sensible regulatory environment and leaders who listen to citizens. We are well-served by a part-time Legislature whose membership is made up of men and women who have regular jobs and live with the laws they enact.
- 2017 will also be remembered as the year when state, county and city leaders came together in a major and significant way to help homeless people. They launched a comprehensive, coordinated, phased program that promises to make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of people who need housing, addiction treatment, mental health therapy, job training and other services.
City and county leaders made the decision to close the Rio Grande facility in 2019 and open new treatment facilities in dispersed locations where needs can be better met. State government then stepped in with significant funding and support to deal with the criminal element preying on the homeless population, along with assistance with other services.
Utah can be proud of this effort and leaders who championed this effort, including House Speaker Greg Hughes, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Gov. Gary Herbert.
- A significant development in Utah politics was the election of Provo Mayor John Curtis in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. With his win, the ability of a candidate to get on the primary election ballot by gathering signatures was institutionalized. This will be a very positive long-term development, opening the way for more prospective candidates to have a chance to get on the ballot, and more voters to be involved in choosing their party nominees.
- 2017 will be forever remembered as the year that many women spoke forcefully about sexual harassment and its perpetrators — and these women were believed and supported. The bright light that has been focused on this dark corner of society will change and improve working conditions for both women and men. New and stronger anti-harassment policies and training are being implemented, along with a reaffirmation that respect and equality are always required.
For many reasons, 2017 was a good year. It established a solid foundation on which to tackle the big challenges awaiting all of us in 2018.