Utah’s election filing deadline has passed, and a handful of legislators are retiring or running for other offices.
For Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, the decision to retire wasn’t an easy one, but after 11 years, it’s time to “allow someone else the opportunity,” he said.
Citing a cancer diagnosis from last year, Snow said he wants to spend more time with his family in the coming years, and possibly serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He called his time in the Legislature “one of the greatest opportunities” of his career, saying “there’s really nothing that I’ve ever experienced ... to compare with the service.”
Snow said he is particularly proud of his work to improve higher education and juvenile justice across the state. He described a “difficult” vote he took last fall to rename Dixie State University, knowing that many constituents felt a strong connection to the name.
Although he initially voted against the change, he signed on to a compromise to refer to the main campus as the Dixie Campus for at least 20 years.
“It was a really difficult vote, because — when I voted for the name change — it was voting against the will and the opinion of many of my friends,” he said. “It’s always hard when you’re torn between casting a vote for what you believe in your heart is the right thing ... versus what — at least for certain sectors and folks down here — what their opinion was.”
He said he never meant to “dishonor the legacy of the people who settled this area” but believes the name change is in the best interest of the “state institution” in the long run.
This year, Snow was the sponsor of a high-profile effort to repeal the death penalty in Utah. The death penalty is almost never charged, he said, and it’s “really a shame when those funds could be used in so many better, positive ways” — including victim services and law enforcement.
Snow said he thought the bill had “more momentum than has ever been obtained in the state previously on this issue,” but it failed to pass through committee.
Still, he said he’s proud of what he accomplished on the issue and expects future legislators will be able to move the repeal across the finish line.
“It was a disappointment that we couldn’t move this out of committee ... but having said that, I absolutely believe that we moved the needle,” Snow said. “And I think it has created much more of an awareness ... about the problems in the death penalty in our state.”
He said he has learned to view the Legislature as an “ongoing process,” and said he looks forward to seeing others continue to work to address the issue.
Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, is also retiring from the Legislature to spend more time with her family — especially her 92-year-old mother. Despite serving in Utah’s part-time Legislature, she takes her job seriously and said it often turns into a year-round effort.
It was a “bittersweet” moment when the filing deadline passed Friday, but she said she felt privileged to have been able to serve.
It’s hard not to miss the divisiveness and partisan bickering that can take place during the legislative session, but Iwamoto said she generally tends to remember her relationships with colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — the most.
“It’s always memorable,” she said. “In the Senate, for me — and even in the House — I have those friendships with colleagues. Whatever background we have, we seem to (get along).”
Here’s a full list of legislators who are not seeking reelection this fall:
- Rep. Timothy Hawkes, R-Centerville, retiring from Legislature.
- Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, retiring from Legislature.
- Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, running for Salt Lake County Council At Large seat.
- Rep. Stephanie Pitcher, D-Salt Lake City, running to replace Sen. Jani Iwamoto in Utah Senate District 14.
- Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, retiring from Legislature.
- Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, retiring from Legislature.
- Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, retiring from Legislature.
- Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, retiring from Legislature.