I have been asked some very good and important questions by delegates. Here are some of those questions and my answers.
1. What are your views on improving education in our state? Particularly, how can we do a better job of attracting and keeping quality teachers in our public schools?
Such important questions! Three things that the legislature could do to help districts attract and keep quality teachers and improve education in our state are
- Show trust in our public-school teachers. That means, among other things, allowing educators more autonomy in the classroom, funding and encouraging adequate teacher development and support, re-evaluating high stakes testing and the dialogue surrounding it, and assuming good intent on the part of our educators and districts.
- Provide enough funding to substantially increase teachers’ salaries across the board to a competitive wage. This can be accomplished without raising taxes through prioritization and wise use of the dollars we have. With unemployment so low in Utah, educators can find higher paying jobs in other industries, and we are competing with the private sector and other states for the best teachers. Additionally, Utahans have shown overwhelming support for paying our teachers a competitive wage. We value education–legislators need to be responsive to their constituents.
- Communicate and listen to districts, teachers, and parents. If elected, I will be representing parts of both Provo and Alpine districts and I feel it is imperative to find out how proposed legislation will affect all the stakeholders in these districts, in addition to the other communities throughout Utah. Being on the Provo City School Board has given me firsthand knowledge of how vital this communication is.
2. What can be done to improve transportation in the state, both roads and mass transit? What are your thoughts on the proposed name change for UTA?
As Utah grows, so will our transportation and infrastructure needs. Thoughtful, proactive planning is vital. To keep up with our expected growth, we need to do more than merely widen our roads and freeways. We have to come up with other innovative, fiscally sound, and environmentally responsible ways to address our transportation needs now and in the future. I would look at other cities, states, and countries that have faced the same growth and transportation issues that Utah is facing and learn from their efforts and their mistakes. Efficient and accessible mass transit is a key component in not only increasing our transportation choices, but also for improving our air quality and encouraging economic development. We must keep in mind how what we are implementing now will fit into the future. Policies should encourage the use of ride-sharing, biking, and mass transit but always made with a taxpayer’s return on investment in mind.
Utah’s rural counties have different needs than our urban counties. It is important to make sure that their transportation needs are also met, and that they are not left behind as we develop necessary infrastructure throughout Utah.
As far as the name change, why would we ever spend tens of millions of dollars on re-branding UTA? There is no return on this investment–just spending. Additionally, the re-organization of UTA will only be as good as those that are put in charge, and the legislature has some say in that.
3. What are your views on naming a Utah state highway after President Trump?
It would cost millions of dollars with no return on investment, and it would further provoke those who opposed decreasing the monument size. We have enough division and need to start working on building bridges. Also, it is usually prudent to wait until some finishes a job before you memorialize them.
4. What are your views on SB54 and Count my Vote?
I strongly support the Caucus/Convention system. I have seen the benefits as both a delegate and now as a candidate. As a delegate, I have seen that candidates have the time and motivation to communicate with me and answer my questions. As a candidate, I have LOVED talking to delegates and getting to know them, and I have appreciated how seriously the delegates take their responsibility to represent their neighbors. The caucus/convention system also saves candidates money. Count My Vote will drive up the cost of elections as candidates struggle to get signatures and their message out to thousands.
Additionally, parties need to have the opportunity to vet and approve someone who is going to appear on the ballot as their candidate. I understand the voter frustration that was the catalyst for the original Count My Vote and SB54, but we need to improve and strengthen the caucus/convention system, not circumvent, weaken, or replace it. The more participation, the better the system works. It is up to voters to be involved and elect delegates that represent them. If we could figure out an honest and fair way to implement the voting app so that party members can vote from home or work it would be helpful in increasing participation.
Something the legislature can do is move the convention date to May. There are only 3 ½ weeks between caucus and convention, and that is hardly enough time to reach all the delegates in a meaningful way. Also, June is a terrible time for the Primary. School is out and many families are on vacation and not thinking about elections. There is also not enough time between convention and the Primary for lesser known candidates to get their names and messages out to the voters.
5. What can be done to encourage economic development?
See the answers to questions 1 and 2. 😊 But really, a well-run state that invests in an excellent educational system; produces well-educated, job-ready workers; has an easily accessible, well planned transportation system; has low taxes; offers plentiful recreation and beautiful open spaces; has well-thought out, sustainable housing solutions; and provides future-ready infrastructure will encourage economic development.