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Theresa Foxley and Derek Miller: Your time for choosing Utah’s governor

SHARE Theresa Foxley and Derek Miller: Your time for choosing Utah’s governor

Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

We believe in the midst of every adversity lies opportunity, and the future of Utah is bright. To highlight that future, the Salt Lake Chamber and EDCUtah held a candidate forum to allow Republican candidates for governor an opportunity to share their vision. This live forum and other virtual events have posited a lens into each candidate’s political raison d’etre and leadership. 

Despite the inherent adversarial nature of campaigns, we feel it is important to remind all, this race is a job interview for the chief executive of our state. While it is impossible to expound on every position, some highlights bear repeating as we enter the final stretch of the Republican primary election. 

Mr. Huntsman believes the current health and economic challenges holds the kernel of rebirth and innovation to launch our state as a stronger global player. Utah has led in export growth in the past and has an international culture rooted in service and entrepreneurialism that bodes well for the future. Mr. Cox pointed out that he has been ‘in the arena’ working on the COVID-19 Task Force and highlighted that other governors across the country have asked for Utah’s advice and plans including the Utah Leads Together roadmap. While Mr. Cox lauded Utah’s response, Mr. Hughes criticized what he considers “state-heavy plans” believing the constitution allows for individual citizens to decide how to respond to crises while states remain open. Mr. Wright suggested putting a moratorium on capital projects in conjunction with tax relief as important pillars of his economic plan. 

During the forum, candidates also differed on the key issue of sales tax on food. Mr. Wright staked the claim that sales tax on food should be repealed altogether, especially due to hard economic times families are facing. Mr. Huntsman and Mr. Hughes agreed and rejected the premise that cutting revenue via tax repeal would harm the state budgets at a time when incoming revenue is down and tax filings have been extended until mid-summer. Mr. Cox took the middle approach that a food tax repeal is something he would look at and consider as the state navigates the months ahead. 

This salvo demonstrated an underlying issue the state faces moving forward and that is fiscal posture and a looming budget shortfall. Balancing the budget will take sacrifice across the board, but the Chamber and EDCUtah hope leaders prioritize core areas that enlarge our economic gears and reaccelerate growth. Each candidate speaks to hard times and the need for a plan that catapults Utah not just forward but upward in business and economic positioning. 

Though similar in their approach to governance, each of the candidates presents a different vision for the future of our state. Each seems to understand the importance of rural growth across Utah and how infrastructure will be key to this growth nexus. Whatever your position or politics, restoring consumer confidence will be an important part of the job for Utah’s next governor. Small businesses make up the majority of Utah business and cannot survive without consumer engagement.  

Finally, our goal with this letter is to reinforce some of the highlights of the first live forum during this pandemic and to encourage voters to study it out and vote your conscience. Each candidate offers something unique and all are well qualified to lead the state. 

We thank these candidates who have contributed to our public discourse and provided ideation and leadership during a time in history for which we shall never forget. Please do your homework and cast your vote in this historic election. Our pledge to you is to work with whoever is elected as governor and other important offices to plan and move forward as we transition from this pandemic night into economic dawn.    

Theresa Foxley is the president and CEO of EDCUtah. Derek Miller is the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.