"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 8, 2020

2020 Candidates for County Recorder: Andrea Allen and Brian Voeks

Andrea Allen is the current Deputy Recorder.

Brian Voeks currently works for County Commissioner Bill Lee.

These are notes from the County Recorder debate which included additional candidates--Paul Child and Doug Gifford--who did not advance to the Primary Ballot.

Brian Voeks:
  1. Fiscal Conservatism: worked for Commissionner Bill Lee.  Vitally important to have dept heads who are fiscal conservatives.  Will only ask for budget increases that will result in cost savings.  Try to do my part to not raise taxes again.
  2. Fresh perspective: 50 years since there was an outside person
  3. Qualified leadership: attorney in good standing. 

Andrea Allen:
Worked for the Recorder's office for 27 year. Take on a new role in leadership. Duty is to you.
I know where we can look for improvements, through wise use of current technology.
  1. Maintain accurate records
  2. Ensure user friendly access to those records. 

Paul Child:
You want to serve the most people with the best good. Spent a lifetime (30 years) working in recorders' offices throughout this state and MT. It is a technical position, not administrative.  There's a lot that you need to have knowledge about.  Like your car if it's making noises, will you drive up to the guy in the fancy suit, or would you use the service bay?

Doug Gifford:
Lifelong county resident.  15 years in the recorder's office. Surveying and business management experience. Not satisfied with an office that can't perform its work in the state-required timeline.  We can do better.  UT County needs a recorder's office that is fiscally conservative and provides documents in a timely manner.

Q. What experience best qualifies you? Do you have any experience in reading drafting and understanding deeds?

AA: 27 years in the  office.  Mapping tech: reading and understanding deed, then moves on. I understand state code that we are required to follow.  I know the different types of documents, qualifications if there are subdivisions or condos. 

PC: 29 years working for title companies and then 1 year at the recorder's office. Interpreting docs and researching and finding solutions to problems.  I've seen other county recorders' offices as I've done that.

DG: Vast array of experience related to drafting and understanding deeds.  Background in surveying, experience in multiple CAD systems.  I know what qualifies for property boundaries: not always is it described on the deed.  My business experience and success in managing a team.

BV: Most important thing (SL county recorder) is to manage budgets and people.  I have experience in putting together large budgets and overseeing them.  Managed UT County govt that has over 1000 employees.  I deal with sensitive topics, like legal disputes and personnel issues.  Those at the county will say that I am fair.  Law degree: able to read as well as able to comply with and understand state law.

Q. Top issue facing the recorder's office.

PC: 2 month delay, but a bigger issue is the black hole: the time period between when a document is stamped and the time it is available to search.  Doing better (2 weeks).  But for a while, we were taking a month to do this.  That is a problem for title insurance underwiters.  2 weeks is still 5-6000 documents that no one knows are there for 2 weeks.

DG: Black hole is a big issue. It's part of the entirety of the process with the 2 month delay.  This black hole didn't exist a few years ago.  It's ballooned.  My approach to solving it would be to fix the fractured scheduling of the recording clerks up front. Currently, they have tasks every 1.5 hours, so that doesn't give them enough time to focus on the task at hand and get the necessary work done.

BV: I agree that the black hole is the biggest issue. The office could better use tech.  We only have one e recording vendor in the county.  We'd like to see more of those.  would like to implement a title fraud notification program, in order to prevent title fraud from ruining someone's financial life.  Accepting credit cards, debit cards, and e-checks, similar to other depts in the county.

AA: A backlog of work is an issue.  The 2 month backlog is probably a little inaccurate.  The mappers are working documents from March.  Working to solve that, and we haven't been able to replace people who have left.  We are working on instapayments and is the works.  Doing our best to keep things moving with the growth that has come into the county with existing staff.  

Q. Biggest improvement you could make

DG: Engaging the employees.  Opportunities to be made to increase the productivity.  I don't think we are understaffed and we have the tools to perform our essential function and excel.  I was successful in implementing a process to have targeted goals and reach our 15 day stipulation in state law.  By starting a few months in advance, we were able to make measurable increase within the end of the year.  This is the closest we've ever come to meeting that goal.

BV: I'd like to set the gold standard at the county for customer service.  It's essential that our customers always be greeted by a friendly staff member and work hard to addres their issues.  I've had other reach out to me with clerical errors and trying to get them fix.  I've had people say it was confusing about what they would need to do because someone wasn't there to greet them.

AA: Invested in preserving our duty to the public.  Need to make sure we maintain our services online, continue to be updated and available at no cost.  We would help you if you were in the office, without charging.  Would like to implement tech IF it makes sense, will improve the quality of work, and if it fits in the budget.  We do well in customer service with what we have.

PC: Customer service is superior, excellent.  Might be able to change the focus from data entry accuracy (and that's good).  But the beginning step of data entry would be to focus on just getting a few pieces of information out so that black hole would disappear.  Implement the names of the parties and a brief legal description within a day or two.

Q. Recording fee was recently raised. What is the best use of those funds?

BV: In favor of the fee increase, at the legislature, from $10 to $40.  I believe very strongly in user-fees: those who are using the services are the people who should pay for those services, rather than the taxpayers at large.  If you bought your house 30 years ago, why should you pay as opposed to someone who is flipping properties. Automation and where we can make the office more efficient.

AA: Fees were increased.  The PRIA (assoc) asked for the county recorders to find an agreeable fee.  It helped title companies, and it helped to have us be more efficient in our actual recordings.  It would go toward technology and team building. We were able to fund ourselves and turn $1M back into the general fund budget last year.  

PC: The increase was correct because it wasn't enough to get the job done.  If we do the same number as last year, $2.5 - 3M that will be available for something.  I think the commissioners are excited to use that money.  They have a huge shortfall and that's a possibility to help them.

DG: Good thing.  It updated a policy that hadn't been updated since the 90's and simplified a complicated fee schedule.  Extra funds should go back to the general funds.  With the increase of tax rates and fees, I don't think asking for money at this time is the republican governance that we aspire to.  I would like to see any extra put back to reduce impact on taxpayers.

Q. What is the recorder's relationship with the county commission?

AA: It's a good relationship.  Some commissioners are very involved, and some we see passing in the hallway.  But as we are in meetings together and collaborate, I think we get along well.  I think they have a fair understanding of how our office operates. We're one of the few offices that is funded by our fees and then turn them back to general fund.  I think we have a good working relationship.

PC: Not as familiar with the relationship.  I've been watching the meetings and I don't see a whole lot of interaction. I do notice that Andrea and Jeff are always at those meetings, taking part, when needed.  I would hope that we have a good relationship.  

DG: I think there's a good relationship. good amount of checks and balances.  Appreciate that the commission understands that the recorder's office is an elected position and respect that position.  There is a back and forth when it comes to requests, and that's good.  I was glad that the commission debate knew about the problems in the recorder's office.  I will introduce accountability on our website, so the people of the county can know where we are.

BV: I can say the relationship hasn't been the strongest.  Other offices that have a stronger relationship.  But it's a good working relationship.  I will focus on having a good relationship with all the commissioners, with other offices (assessor/treasurer).  No back-biting. Working together.  Always interact professionally.

Q. How will interact and communicate with the public?

PC: Recorder must be at the office all the time.  The public come in at lunch time, squeeze in by 5. Recorder should be available to them.  I don't disappear, but there for the job.  It's important for the public and the employees, as well.  

DG: The office does a good job of interacting with the public currently.  Opportunities to increase that interaction through enhancements through tech etc.  It would be nice to use a video/visual when discussing with customer.  Website, as previously mentioned.  What are our standards and targets?  

BV: I liked what Paul said that it's important for the recorder to be present, esp true of the elected officials.  I want to be able to meet with people face-to-face.  I believe very strongly that we need to have a presence as elected officials.  Answer emails.  Will show up at party central committee meetings so delegates can interact.  

AA: Want good interaction with public as well.  Good interaction with assessor and treasurer.  Oftentimes, people come to our office and they need to go to one of the others, or vice versa.  I'm a people person.  Been doing PR for a long time.  Generally, we can work out problems, just takes time and education on both parts.

Q. Why are you a Republican?

BV: I've been a lifelong GOP because I believe in conservative values, limited govt.  Main function of govt is to protect our rights (Bill of Rights).  Strong  proponent of having low taxes and having govt really try to be efficient and as much as possible, do more with less.  Not just how I will govern, but how I live in my personal life.  Good personal finances, don't carry consumer debt.  Worked hard to save for the future.  That's how govt should be as well.

DG: I like the GOP ideal of small government.  Govt should function on its essential function and fulfill it and fulfill it well.  I put a standard of 5 days not the state mandated 15 day minimum.  I intend to deliver the GOP standard of excellence into our local government.  By keeping it efficient and the budget down, and do so at a savings to taxpayers.

AA: GOP I believe in protecting rights of property owners.  Do it efficiently and effectively.  It's a critical part of everyday life. Home ownership is one of the biggest investments people make.  We need to be efficient with taxpayer money and it doesn't just come on trees.  But need to provide the essential functions of keeping those property rights protected and available.  It's what boosts the economy and is what we enjoy as citizens.

PC: Believe in the GOP values, esp the Bill of Rights (religious rights, freedom of speech, gun rights)  I believe that GOP believes in liberties and not in large governments that control every aspect of our lives.  We do whatever we can to be fiscally responsible and run our offices efficiently.  That's what I'm about too.


BV: We all have to prove to you that we are the best candidate.  New perspective: selected outsiders in 2018 to run lots of the offices, because a fresh pair of eyes is exactly what is needed in this race.  I'm trained to analyze problems and find solutions.  Govt limited to fulfilling only the most essentail functions.  Run in a fiscally conservative way and with honor and dignity and protecting your property rights.

AA: Protecting property rights.  Family experience in the county.  Love helping people understand their property descriptions and their ownership.  I want that maintained through the best standard possible: technologies.  I don't believe you need to be an outsider to have a fresh outlook.  I'm always looking for ways to improve. Meet with recorders from other counties and others in the industry.  I want to maintain the office's morale.  Doing the best that we can and there's always room for improvement.

PC: I don't believe that Brian is the only outsider.  I've spent most of my career as an outsider, but as a user of the recorder's office.  Done all kinds of things for governments, title insurance companies, investors, all people outside of govt that use the recorder's office are the people I've helped.  now I'm also inside the office and I've onliy been there one year, but that experience has given me a better idea of the processes that are in place to make sure that people like me who did commercial work are getting the best they can get.  I think it's doing a phenomenal job and we have great people.  I'm excited to work with them.

DG: The problems that face the recorder's office demand attention.  We need a leader who is not only experienced, but also one who can deliver results.  My experience in the office, knowledge of managing business, I can deliver on change.  I will fulfill the essential duties in a manner that will cost you less.

2020 Candidates for Utah County Commission: Nathan Ivie and Tom Sakievich

Nathan Ivie is one of our current Utah County Commissioners:
Nathan Ivie participated in debates and held virtual townhalls.  He was very accessible.

Tom Sakievich is a retired Marine and has worked to oversee government budgets for many years.
Tom Sakievich participated in debates and held virtual townhalls.  He was very accessible.

Notes from the County Commission debate (which included 3 other candidates--Steve White, Taylor Dayton, Christopher Forbush--who did not make it to the Primary ballot).

Steve White:
Commissioner 2003-2011: balanced our budget, $1M minimum into the fund balance, created a free clinic..mental health resources which became a place where the indigent poor came to receive services.  Sheriff had 100% full funding for all the personnel (Jim Tracy).  Didn't raise taxes.  3 years ago we could have covered the deficit.  Running to bring conservative fiscal policies back to UT County.

Taylor Dayton:
Lived in UT County essentially my whole life.  Don't pass taxes onto members of the county. 1. Reducing taxes, 2. Limiting government, 3. Listening to the people.

Christopher Forbush:
Payson, BYU, work at UVU and private attorney,live in Saratoga Springs.  Running with reference to the tax increase.  Want to roll that back as far as prudent, but live within our means. Disagree with changing county government from commission to mayor-council.  www.chrisforbush.com

Nathan Ivie:
Honor to serve for the last 4 years.  Got some neglected farmwork done on Sunday.  It helps you focus on what's really important, I started to walk back to the house.  Daughter was helping watering.  Grateful she was helping without being asked.  Have an amazing history in my family.  This is about the American Dream and that's why I do this.  It's essential to me that we practice government in a responsible manner and that we protect the liberties that the Founders gave us.  

Tom Sakievich: 
30 years in Marine Corps, deeply involved in budgets.  Been on the short end when Congress was playing with payroll.  I value the Constitution that protects our freedoms and the Declaration the outlines that framework. Limited gov't guy and believe it can be done with a smaller government that allows communities to do their part.  During COVID, people are still getting out, distancing, but people are still living their lives.

  1. What is the most significant problem facing the county and what will you do to fix it?
TD: Growth.  Great thing.  What can we do?  Be friendly to businesses, not encumber them with undue tax burden.  Do not increase taxes.  Hurts individuals and businesses as well.  Need to partner with small businesses.  

CF: Outside of the issue of taxation, growth. Need to focus on "moving people".  Get together with cities and prioritize rights of ways into areas that are going to be growing rapidly.  

NI: COVID virus: Stand our guard but don't abandon our principles of liberty.  As we find out the true consequences, then we make the appropriate cuts.  Going to live within our budgets.  Growth.  Continue to invest in infrastructure and good relationship with regional planning.

TS: Over the last 10 years, we've gone from 400K to 600K.  The bulk of those residents live within the towns and cities.  The county has roughly 9000 residents that the county supports.  the county is to work with the cities to support those issue of growth.

SW: COVID will pass and in the end, it's the future we need to look at.  The transportation systems in south county that are fully inadequate.  We don't want to have those issues and give density bonuses: had to buy right of way to expand 2 lanes.  If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.  

  1. Essential vs non-essential roles of government
CF: promoting tourism.  Not a role of county government.  Might be able to offset the tax increase by cutting that.  Use voluntary compliance to distancing but to encourage as normal lives as possible.

NI: Sheriff and Attorney.  Then Clerk Auditor: free electorate.  Assessing and collecting taxes (surveyor, etc).  Government's fundamental role is to protect life, liberty and property.  Health dept: striking the right balance

TS: Public Safety: Sheriff, Justice/Attorney, Roads, sewers, and intercity requirements.  The non-essentials: hotels, conferences (commercial stuff).  The county health information is being thoroughly well-done.

SW: Sheriff, Attorney: Law Enforcement.  Then Health and Human services as mandated by the state.  If we do those things, we have a well-protected and healthy county and less crime.  We can get transportation moved up higher on the list.

TD: Been covered: protect the rights of the people and property.  Health dept: making sure the citizens are safe.  This is done by levying taxes.  That's what we need to be careful doing.  Non-essentials: stay out of private interests.  Stick to infrastructure: trim something in some of the parks.

  1. Do you support a Utah County Council/Mayor form of government.  What are pros and cons of those
NI: Huge proponent.  Something I campaigned on.  There is too much consolidated power and in our recent past to see that.  We need to have local districted representation and separation of powers.  5 districted council members, mayor, deputy mayor.  This should disperse power and get greater voice to the people.

TS: 3 commissioners current structure is ideal and far cheaper: 9000 people live in unincorporated areas.  UT county is to support cities, not residents.  The cities support their residents.  

SW: In favor of expanding representation for people but against a mayor.  Once you pass the budget, then all the power in the county goes to the mayor.  So, amending the budget is more cumbersome.  When the mayor has a veto, then it takes 4 members of the 5 council to override.

TD: There could be some pros with expanding to a mayor-council form.  You may get representation from different areas.  Going to have increased costs and if it's a strong mayor.  I think the commissioner form is good if we elect good people, and hold them accountable.  Not in favor.  We're going to vote on this as a county.  Willing to support whatever the citizens decide, but wouldn't be in favor.

CF: 3 reasons.  Not a fan of mayor-council. 1. Costs will increase: 2 people proposed.  In SL: there are 24 individuals. 2. Separation of powers: you are taking the power that is divided among 3 council members, and consolidating it behind one mayor.  Districted representation can be achieved in a much less egregious sort of way: maybe a 5 member council.

  1. What do you think of the recently passed 67% tax increase and if you are opposed, what would you have proposed?
TS: 1. Fund for travel.  We need to work with our related counties to look at getting access to those funds.  Because we spend most of our time in those areas.  2. Incremental increase on taxes.  67% was too big because it affects our homes, our businessesand our supplies that impact those businesses.  

SW: 67% was about 4 or 5 times more.  If the commission had raised taxes 15% when they lost the ICE contract, we would be sitting pretty.  A small tax increase would have been justified.

TD: WAs going to be more than that and it's come down.  But in the 2019 budget that it increased: $14M, now increased.  We're not living within our means, not 18% not 10%.   Need to live within our means, within inflation.  Not fair to the residents.

CF: Disagree with the tax hike.  I think we could have achieved bridging the deficit through other means.  $2-3M what we should be looking to make up.  Legislature mandated an increase in recorder fees.  That means the recorders office, which is self-funded, they turn that over to the general fund, which could have made up the deficit.  Utah Taxpayers Association supported a MARGINAL tax increase based on the budget they were given, but not as high as it was.

NI: $100M budget.  Issues that have faced the county since 1986.  1 minute is not long enough to cover.  When we talk about 67%, it's imperative that you are paying a lower percentage today than you were in 2011.  [But my tax value is HIGHER by A LOT than it was in 2011.]  On most families, we're talking $6-7/per month.

  1. Commissioner job: is it full time that doesn't allow other occupations?  How would you track the hours on a job.
SW: Yes, it's full-time.  Spent 2 hours/day on the budget.  NI said: before we had a 1/4 cent sales tax that was in lieu of the property tax.  On the current commission, there is no historical knowledge.  We need to work hard and full time doing the work.  $119K.

TD: Budget is $104M.  Citizens should not pay more because we didn't plan accordingly.  Full-time job, maybe even more.  8-9 hours/day and visit with people outside of that.  Be available to citizens wherever they might be.  You have the responsibility to meet with them.

CF: This is a full-time position and requires you to be available that amount of time.  Make it to meetings, not just call in.  Present in your office.  Sometimes, it might take more than that and meetings can run late into the night. When elected, I expect to step away from my current full-time positions.  Fine to have a commissioner "punch in."

NI: Absolutely, it's 24-7.  Respond and be among the people.  I was the only commissioner who voted to report and track our time, because I believe in being open and transparent.  There's a reason why there are so many people at the county who are happy to work with me.  I've given up opportunities to be here.  

TS: Full-time job.  There are 30-35 boards that the commission members are involved in.  Get involved with the mayors and get out among the people.  If an individual has an outside interest, they need to turn that interest over to a third party.  It might be that you aren't in the office, but you can track online.  

  1. Has the BRT worked out?  Lost lanes? Is it being utilized?  Will you look at ideas to add public transit ideas? What is the role of public transportation over the next 10 years?
TD: It's been effective by and large, but I think the cost was over and above what most of the citizens wanted.  Look at usage studies.  Listen to the taxpayers and see what they want.  Live within the budget. Make it convenient and comfortable but not overspend.  I think in some areas it's been overdone.

CF: The funding is coming from UTA (sales tax in the county).  Whether or not public transit has been successful, is another question.  Transportation should largely be handled by a private company.  But it is subsidized.  It needs to be studied.  Students have a subsidized pass.  Not sure if it needs to expand to other areas.  Need to see if actual ridership can cover the cost to expand.

NI: Ridership has exceeded expectations.  Outside of BRT, one of the things I'm most proud of was getting an interlocal agreement with UTA.  That puts local control over that 1/4 cent sales tax project.  Need that we hold UTA accountable, more local control.  On the funding of BRT, we'll be able to refinance some of those bonds and use some of that money into other areas.

TS: BRT was part of an overall concept from the last several years from MAG: transcom-40 (now transcom-50).  It's envisioning when we become twice the size, how do we move masses of people across the county. Most mass transit systems are funded by taxpayers.  Current bus system is funded by 25% cost, subsidized 75% by taxpayers.  It is needed.  But I'd like to see more support by commercial interests to see more effective transportation options.  

SW: I was in office when the vote was taken for that second quarter for commuter rail and other highway projects: including Pioneer Crossing and North County Blvd.  BRT: the money was earmarked for commuter rail to Springville.  No wonder everyone in South County feels they are not taken care of.  Need to take care of the entire county.

  1. County recorder's office, recently increased from $10 to $40 per documents.  That is an increase of over $4M.  Is that necessary, and how will this money be used?
CF: HB247 from the legislature requires the recorder's office.  It's expected there will be a surplus of $2.5 - $3M turned in from the recorder's fees.  Tax increase wasn't necessary.  

NI: Would love to hear this question from the recorders.  Recorder's office has had significant problems with lower staffing.  Very supportive of our efforts to tie performance-based metrics to new staffing and new funding.  Make sure they are meeting their standards.  

TS: I am surprised by a 4 fold increase in fees.  I know 140K documents is huge.  $4M is going to cover a lot more than another 2-4 recorders in the office.  Not sure how it's been applied to date.  We need to incrementally raise things as needed, and then identify why that increase is needed.  The county can send educational emails to members of the county to keep them informed.

SW: The recorder's fee is set by the state legislature.  We could never raise the amount when we needed it. The recorder's office has a 60 day backlog to day.  We need to bring technology in to get everything up to snuff.

CF: I would like to associate myself with the comments Steve made.  It's entirely appropriate that we increase our tech to complete the job in a least costly way possible.

TD: Increase seems a bit exorbitant.  I think we're going to increase fees little by little.  How those funds are applied, uncertain. Based on the 4 times increase, there will be more money in the general fund, and want to help the recorder's office in tech and manpower if needed.

  1.     What county depts do you feel could be run more efficiently in order to balance the budget without a large tax increase?
NI: Worked with my various departments to look at vehicle fleets.  We were able to find some vehicles that we could cut our or multi-purpose.  We can find increased savings and explore leasing vehicles and other ideas.  We need to look at privatizing and contract things out of the different departments.

TS: Need to look at things as it grows for those departments in the county, e.g. Attorney.  As we look at the growth, we can look at what we can narrow what we actually do.  I would like to look at getting things into commercial interests.  Would like to move away from those in the future.

SW: I would RIF all the financial positions in the departments and then increase the auditor's office by that amount.  Then auditor decide if those people qualify for those job, and then those others can apply to other positions.  Looking at other options like privatization in Public Works.

NI: We are actively working on and looking into those areas.  We are doing our due diligence so that we don't get fleeced. Actively working to make sure with privatization we are sure we are getting better service if we do that and that it makes sense.

TD: Where we could reduce would be: corrections is 37%, etc.  On the enforcement areas, we could find some economies: responsible for patrolling.  Eagle Mountain and Vineyard, maybe we could increase to market rate: they should be able to budget and develop their police dept.

CF: Utah County Attorneys Office: Many wonderful attorneys working there.  County Attorney wanted to hire another 15 attorneys.  I'm going to scratch my head and look a bit deeper.  Why do you need 15 additional staff?  Would that be appropriate?  If a dept head wants a drastic personnel increase, is there a way to solve the problem without such a high increase.

  1. Cities are limiting property rights for Air BnB and short term rentals.
TS: Properly within the jurisdiction of the property owner.  If there is a health and safety issue, then the government can step in.  Public Servants should not dictate to people unless there is a health and safety issue that arises.  

SW: No jurisdiction in cities, but we do in the county and I would vote to allow short term rental in all zones in the county.

TD: Cities will have jurisdiction.  In the county, I think we need to be county, give direction and guidelines.  Want to be considerate of the people and be good neighbors, but ultimately it's property owner's rights.

CF: What Steve said, no jurisdiction in the cities.  Push for legal accessory apartments in the county and would be in support at looking and expanding those.

NI: Not only would I work and have worked to expand rights for property owners in the county.  We passed the ordinance to mother-in-law apartments.  Fierce believer in property rights, so long as you are not harming the  neighbor with those activities.  I'm going to use the bully pulpit back on the municipalities.  This is a liberty issue and a strong supporter of expanding those opportunities.

  1. How would you assess the current county park situation?  More park space?  Equestrian park?
SW: There's enough and to spare.  Private land is only 22% of the state.  We need to be aware that we are surrounded by parks and trails that we own. I don't think the county needs to go getting any more because we have enough and to spare.

TD: Parks and nature makes it great to be in the county.  No need to purchase extra parks.  Take care of the ones that we have.  I don't know that everyone in the area of the equestrian park, we might want to work with the cities around there and let them acquire it.  I don't think the county needs to take care of it.

CF: I don't believe it's something we should be trying to get more parks.  That could end up being an unnecessary expense that is more important for the county to be doing.  Don't have an opinion one way or another.  I'd have to explore how it might benefit the county.  It might be of interest to the county to allow those parks to be divested into cities, etc.  

NI: The current county parks are funded through the TRCC fund, and I think it's appropriate.  If we're going to have it in existence, then that is the appropriate use.  I think we should purchase land for parks where it makes sense.  We are looking at a private-public partnership to create a park along Utah Lake.  These types of models are excellent and they preserve these spaces in a joint effort.  Support them where they make sense.

TS: Our parks are ideal.  I would like to keep what we have and maintain for public wide-open use.  I would like to see, private-public relationships to help develop the lake.  I'd like to see us improve those areas and use the TRCC (tourism taxes) to improve other areas and sheriff support. Like to work with our US Congressional delegation to get more out of PILT payments.

  1. Do you support funding community events like the Freedom Festival and Parade?
TD: Tough one.  I would like to get more citizen feedback. I've enjoyed those events, but I think we need to be careful about where we're spending taxpayer funds.  Back to basic essentials.  Little bit more conservative on spending those things.

CF: Based on principle: is this the proper role of government.  To me, I haven't thought enough about it. I think there are other issues that are more important.  But I don't think cutting funding to things like this should be off the table.

NI: This particular activity, the funding does come from TRCC funding.  If we're going to have that fund, then it's an appropriate expenditure.  I would probably be fine with getting rid of the TRCC fund.  Actively working with Lehi city to get the equestrian park into city ownership.

TS: Spoken to some of the founders of the Freedom Festival.  It's principle focus is as a private effort. If it's a public event that is sponsored by the city or county then we should fund it.  But I'd like to explore this, because it's about $113,000 and it's enjoyable.  But it's primarily a private event.

SW: John Adams: 4th of July should be a day that we celebrate.  I think if there's any legitimate function of government, then the Freedom Festival falls within that because it's a time for us to say Thank you to God for blessing us to be born here in this time and in this circumstance.

  1. How do you see your relationship with cities in the county?
CF: Very important.  The county is there to support the cities.  MAG exists.  It needs to be collaborative, and help prioritize things around the county.  Important to maintain and strengthen those relationship.  100% committed to building relationships so we can be prepared for the growth.

NI: Extremely grateful for the wonderful relationship with the mayors and city council members.  Nice that we can get together and come up with the right solution.  Our county is continuing to grow together, so these issues become more important.  Good that we can be unified in the end.  thankful to leave the calls on Mondays with all the mayors.

TS: Our relationship should be an on-going effort.  They are the ones for whom the county exists.  Those residents in unincorporated areas.  I'd like to encourage more of our city and town mayors to attend the various commission meetings/programs that they should be more included or at least invite them.  

2020 Candidates for Attorney General: David Leavitt

David Leavitt:
David Leavitt is the current County Attorney in Utah County.  He held lots and lots of Zoom meetings and was willing to take any and all questions.  Very accessible.


David Leavitt:
Want to reform criminal justice system across the state.  If we don't reform it in the entire country, we will lose our battle.  We are a people at war with each other.  We need to change our system dramatically. 

Initially, plea bargaining almost 75% of our cases...now 99% settled by plea bargain.
Every time we plea bargain a case, that takes power away from the people and vests the control into the elected prosecutor.  That means 99% of the time that elected prosecutor doesn't have to prove those allegations.  Prosecutor has almost 100% immunity.  We have 2400 legal prosecutors that have the ability to investigate anyone they want, charge anyone they want to charge, and plea bargain anyone they want to,  with complete immunity.

Ukranians: 1. Innocent until proven guilty. Came from the Soviets.  The presumption of innocence is ONLY as good as the government gives it weight. 
  1. Jury trial. Ukranians have never had a trial by jury.

While we will never get rid of the plea bargain, we need to have fewer of them. 
Protect the community, first, and punish someone, second.  They should go hand in hand, but they need to have this priority.

We have 29 criminal justice systems in the state of Utah. 29 appointed or elected County Attorneys.  AG has supervisory authority over all the county attorneys: so cases should be prosecuted similarly across the counties.  in 14 months in office haven't been able to get a call from the AG.  This is a Constitutional authority.  Standards, but they are suggestions.  Elected County attorney has the right to determine the appropriate charge.  Using the AG's position to suggest there is somewhat of a consistency.  Suggesting that the AG obey the law that already gives him the duty to do this. Doing it not to micro-manage. Officer-involved critical incident: AG's office should investigate. 

Opposed to minimum mandatory sentencing laws.  Judges should be given discretion, since they know better. Judges should be sentencing to a specific time, not being left to the board of pardons.

AG's office: victims integrity unit, so a defendant can appeal this for review of charges, process, and sentencing.  Citizen review board, not judges and lawyers protecting themselves. Retired judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and other citizens.
Juries serve as a natural check against prosecutorial power.  

Every day you are making decisions that impact people's lives.

Review board: majority to decide if they should be prosecuted or not.  If someone in the screening decision disagrees, they can bring it directly to the AG who decides.

Jury nullification: The people NEVER gave government the power to find someone guilty of a crime.  It was a check on both the executive and legislative branches.  Jury could decide the fact, but also whether the law was just and whether the law should be decided in that case, in particular.  At some point in time, courts and legislatures began telling juries that they didn't have the right to address the law.  The power of jury nullification exists because they have no power to stop it, but they are told they don't have the power.  

April 14, 2020
Adams:  "Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty."

Reduce plea bargains and increase jury trials so that citizens are determining guilt or innocence.  Then we need to redefine how we punish people.  85-90% of the people in our jails are not violent offenders.  We are too focused on punishing them and we are not looking at what is best for society.

Our current AG is a nice, good decent man.  So why are you running?  I'm running because I've been the UT County AG and I haven't even had a phone call from him.  

It looks like for the US Attorney's office sued the state because money from the feds appears to not have been spent correctly by the state.

Non-violent crime: how to handle it.  I'm not suggesting that we not punish non-violent offenders.  You get charged in the criminal justice system, it will be 5-7 months before that process has found you guilty, and you've lost 7 months of time.  My theory on those kinds of non-violent offenses.  The best punishment is swift and early that will burn you hard enough that you never want to do it again, but that you will have a life in the future that won't taint you.  UT County : pre-trial diversion: swift punishment, includes full restitution to the victim.  But that might not mean putting them in jail, because Jail doesn't teach them what they can do to be a contributing member of society.

1. Wouldn't requiring a jury trial for everyone really slow down the justice system? 
Yes. It would.  But that's the point.  The people are a check on what the executive is doing.  Maybe that means, as the executive, we need to be finding different ways of resolving cases.  Instead of: what did this person do and let's charge them with everything possible.  We say: What do we need this person to do to protect society.  The biggest threat isn't the slowness of the system, it's losing the right to a jury trial.

2. How can you change the plea bargain at the State level. Isn't this something that is more of a national issue? 
It actually is more of a local issue, because plea bargains are what occurs at the local level.  By state law, the AG has supervisory powers over the county attorneys.  You give them a set of standards, so you give them enough latitude for local control, but there's a lot that you can do at the state level. If nothing more than educating the population about the evils of plea bargaining.

3. Is there anything the Governor is doing now with Covid-19 that is illegal?
Not aware of what the governor has been doing because I've been recovering from it.  I know the governor is one of the only governors in the nation that hasn't enforced a statewide order.

How have you reduced plea bargains in Utah County:
Worked with the legislature so I could charge what we want to charge at trial.  

What is the role of the AG in a state of emergency?  Would the AG advise the governor?  Are there any concerns with the geo-tracking at the state borders that the governor has just ordered?  Everyone says it's voluntary, but the order doesn't appear to state it's voluntary.
Role is similar.  The County Health department can make an order but they can't enforce it without the county attorney.  So, as AG, my obligation to the constitution would prevent me from enforcing the law, if it's unconstitutional.  

Biggest thing we need to change in our criminal justice system is the mindset of the people in it.  we need to understand the humanity of every one of the people in the criminal justice system. 

Aren't diversion agreements upfront, take the constitutional system of justice out of the equation?  Isn't it taking all power out of the hands of the judge and jury and give the prosecutor all power as to a consequence?  Don't an abundance of diversion (i.e., pre-charge) agreements just create a new administrative level of the executive branch?
2 kinds of diversion agreements: 1. in court, with the court's regulation, 2. pre-filing diversion, which is the kind i've done more. This is where the prosecutor uses prosecutorial discretion to determine what to charge, etc.  It's not taking any more power than what the prosecutor already has.  It's like a food court at the mall. The role of the county attorney is not to send everyone into the food court, but to realize there are limits.  So, you send in those that require the most from the system.  And you give sack lunches to those who are not as bad.  

It seems to make something of a difference if the victim of the crime is “society” or if the victim is an individual or business.  The victim of multiple crimes probably wants all of the crimes to be prosecuted, does she?
Yes, a victim is devasted by being a victim of a crime.  Those are the crimes that matter most.  Right now, if you prioritize the crimes by murder, abuse...crimes against people vs crimes against "society."  Most of our crimes are against society not against people, and that needs to change.  

Recently, Utah County Commissioners raised their portion of our property taxes by 66%. There excuse was that the county departments had to have more money based on the budgets and demands of the county heads. As county attorney, did your department ask for more money like so many other departments?
Yes, I asked for a lot more money because I wanted and asked for and will defend that I wanted 15 new prosecutors because I want to stop plea bargaining so many cases.  275 felony cases each per year, most having victims.  There's just no way to give the kind of attention to the kind of cases.  I'm trying to give my lawyers more bandwidth.  But I'm also looking at filing fewer cases, that don't need to be filed: we can handle them other ways.

How can you stop the exodus of talented attorneys from the Utah Attorney General's Office (an issue that your current office has also suffered from)? 
when we began hiring for new lawyers, we're not suffering for lack of talent.  There has been an exodus from the state AG's office.  People don't work for just money, but they work for job satisfaction, etc.  

Your explanation for pre-filing diversions, and court approved diversions, appears to also justify plea bargains.  It seems like just another selection in the "food court", a selection other than a jury trial.  Diversion agreements (as part of your platform) seems the antithesis of your argument against plea bargaining.  How do you reconcile that?
You have to build an airport while planes are landing and taking off.  Trying to do both at the same time.  The two seem to not be in harmony with one another, but I'm trying to do it as responsibly as I can.

What has AG Reyes done right? What did AG Swallow do right?
Not here to tell you they are not good people or good lawyers.  AG Reyes' work with OUR is laudable.  But you don't have to be the AG to volunteer and I think it has diverted him.  Quite frankly, AG Swallow was in office for such a short amount of time and I wasn't living in Utah.

If you are elected as Attorney General, what happens to our county attorney? Will someone take over from you with your mindset? Does a special election have to be called for Utah County Attorney?
Not seeking higher office, but want to speak out and change the direction.  There will be an appointment made, if I'm elected, until the next election in 2022.  I won't leave until they select someone with my mindset.  

Other than criminal justice reform, what else do you want to accomplish?  
The role of AG is not to be the office attorney for all the state agencies.  I believe that my job as AG is to be the people's attorney.  I would also like to see some serious work done on public lands issue.  I think we've missed an opportunity with Pres. Trump in office to really get some agreements with the feds. 

Day One: I'll start meeting with county attorneys.  They are on the front lines.  

I'll love being able to interact with delegates on a deep level.  

Do you know how the PILT payments Utah receives compare to the grazing fees and other payments the federal government receives for the same lands? Is Utah better off receiving those fees, and paying the administration costs of the lands, than it is getting the PILT?
I don't know the dollar for dollar number.  I'd much rather have the land than the money, quite frankly. 

2020 Candidates for Attorney General: Sean Reyes

Sean Reyes:
Sean Reyes is the current Attorney General.  He held telephone townhalls, which are harder for getting questions in (IMO) and you can't see the candidate's reactions to questions.

Dad was a big supporter of Pres. Trump.  Can't thank the delegates enough for support of Pres. Trump.  Co-chair with Sen. Mike Lee.  Need Trump now more than ever.  He built the greatest economy in the history of the world, and then COVID happened and we need him to rebuild that economy.  Impeachment circus and now thrust into the COVID crisis. 

Half of his 6 years as AG has been under the Obama Admin, 3 years suing Pres. Obama and Joe Biden and winning in court.  It would be so much better to have Trump in for a second term.  

Beyond all the allegations and things that were going on (Swallow as AG), but the AG office wasn't structured to succeed. Tech: generally have great public servants in the AG's office.  The problem was a lack of leadership.  The investigators, as good as they were, didn't have the tools to succeed.  Didn't have any document database system to manage documents properly.  Didn't have a case management system: AG's office is the flagship legal office for the state.  No performance evaluations.  Relieved every leader in the office, and made them reapply for their jobs and reinterview again.  Within a year, the job satisfaction rate for those we represent had gone from abysmal to very positive.  Faced with 3 supreme court cases: 1. marriage, 2. immigration, 3. polygamy  Also, ran for re-elected in 2014 (2 year term), and then won in 2016.  When I was traveling up and down the state, people thank me for restoring honor to the office, but mostly thanking me for protecting their kids and their families (children, seniors, small businesses).  Every day Utah families need protection.  

CJC (Children's Justice Court): 2018 has 4000% increase from 2017 statewide. Use tech and old fashioned law enforcement to rescue children from trafficking, etc.  Drug crimes and cyber crimes are serious in Utah.  Helped lead out in Utah and nationally to combat fraud and Identity theft (esp of children), hacking and entities that violate privacy rights.  Frank Abagnale (Catch Me If You Can...FBI consultant) have been up and down the state to educate people to better protect against cyber criminals.  Frank said he's never worked with a better AG in his 40 years.  Been willing to invest the time into tracking down these perpetrators.  Sued googled for violating privacy rights.  Worked with other tech companies when they've done things to protect our companies, I give them credit.  Law enforcement shouldn't be given a free pass on citizen information.  There have to be safeguards.  Installed protocols to protect people against abusive government power and being more transparent to the people. AG's office: virtual simulation that teaches de-escalation of violence.  Rapid DNA system: 48 hours we have a system that is as accurate by some measures--murder suspect admitted to the crime right away, because of that technology he wasn't ever let go.  3. Live time Artificial Intelligence that allows us to find kids more rapidly after an abduction.  AG's office doesn't believe that County Attorneys should be reporting to the AG's office.  But Sheriff's shouldn't be reporting to any other state agency.  We honor and respect their jurisdiction.  We need to push back against the state when it tries to impose on the locals and when the state oversteps its boundaries.  We need to have a partnership with the counties, but not overstepping.  Economic Crimes Task Force: Helped create in UT, first of its kind, to go after white collar crimes and frauds, retail theft.  Rec'd an award from the UT Sheriffs Association.  Some of the most moving experiences have been with law enforcement officers' families.  Worked with the fraternal order of police.  Get more mental/behavioral resources for our front line officers.  2A rights have come under fire under Obama, but thankfully Pres Trump has worked with us to shore up 2nd Amendment rights.  

Pro-life, religious liberties, public lands.

Emery County: What else will you do for our county?  Caucus/Convention: 1st Lincoln Day dinner was in Emery County.  Ardent supporter of the caucus/convention system.  Critical: if it wasn't for the convention system, we wouldn't have those opportunities.  Support for Rural counties. Filing a brief in support of sanctity of life: some cases going on in some of our sister states, where they've chosen to restrict abortions during COVID.  If you're going to disallow many other medical procedures, then abortion should be included.  they've been challenged and they've asked for help, and so we are doing that.  Friend-of-the-court briefs.  

Religious liberties: Pres Trump has done more on a federal level to help us expand our religious liberties than probably any other president, maybe even than Ronald Reagan.  Many don't involve Utah as a plaintiff or defendant, but they impact us.  Will continue to fight for religious liberty.  Many address Free Exercise clause: allow religious entities or closely held private companies to resist federal contraception mandates.  Defending Catholic social services from adoption services and foster care services.  Cases that permit church sponsored schools to select their own teachers.  Support prayer in schools and religious monuments.  

Massage parlors and rampant prostitution in Utah: Operation Railroad Underground.  Expanded the number of victim advocates and the number of child victim programs: we have a task force (trafficking) in Utah with a grant from the DOJ, almost half of that money would be dedicated to victims, services, and resources.  Rescuing victims is only part of the equation; the real heavy lifting comes after that.  Many people return back because they don't have job skills, etc and they get re-exploited.  I also command the Utah Secure Strike Force in partnership with police chiefs, etc to go after human trafficking wherever it exists.  In 2014 took down a narco trafficker terrorizing our children, esp young boys.  Last month, arrested and got a conviction against 2 men trafficking teens in the Ogden area.  An official in AZ was taken down because he brought women in from the Marshall Islands to have their babies in Utah and sell them.  OUR: doing this on his own time and own dime.  Life altering to rescue boys and girls and give credit to Tim Ballard etc.  How are we doing?  Pres. Trump has invited Sean to the White House to teach other states.  Utah used to be rated an 'F' on protecting victims, now it's an 'A'.  largest massage parlor sting in the west. Almost eradicated the Asian-Chinese trafficking, etc.

White collar and fraud issue: Reason I'm running again, I want to capitalize what we've delivered, but we have many more to do.  1. Want to attack opioids, create a state task force and the hundreds of different initiatives, including suing opioid manufacturers, eliminate shame and judgement, mental/behavioral challenges, suicide: want to get a 911 for mental health, that number is going to come. SafeUT app: secret sauce: this is even better because it is helping them because they don't want people to know they're hurting. After SafeUT (free), for the first time in the teen demographic, they've gone down. 2, Not all criminal justice reform (George Soros), but try to make sure good criminal justice is there.  UT is like the worst place for fraud; Utahns are very trusting.  Need trust but verify. Defended against Waters of the US. Bears Ears, etc.

2020 Candidates for Governor: Thomas Wright

Thomas Wright:

Thomas Wright held multiple Zoom meetings and answered whatever questions were brought up.  He also gave his personal cell number and asked people to call with any additional questions.

Greater transparency in health care costs.

HB332: special needs scholarship.  Would NOT have vetoed this bill.  Better for the student to specialize in their need.  Better for everyone.  Disappointing there are so many people fighting against sped kids getting what they need.

Access vs costs: Affordable Care Act: affordability is the problem, not the access.

When you take the money from the feds it comes with string?
Eliminating strings and let teachers teach.  we need to teach free market economics.  Common Core wasn't a good thing.
Kids need to understand the principles of America and not defect to Bernie Sanders.  Going to need a lot of people's help to make it.

Mobile phone: 801-652-5700 Thomas

3 main things from Dad: stay hungry and stay humble, and don't forget the 3rd H and that's Hustle. This is your state.  I would just be leading this state under your direction.

What would you do to support local control in education?  Do you support having one set of standards and one set of tests?  What is the role of the feds in education and how do we maintain local control if the feds require a single set of standards and testing?
Do not believe the feds should be mandating the way we educate our kids.  We, as parents, know what's best for our children.  HB332 or any other avenue that we deem appropriate: home, charter, private, we know what's best for our kids and we should be able to custom tailor education.  Do not believe in one set of standards and one set of tests.  I want an educated child that is reaching their god-given potential.  Teaching to standardized tests is just wrong.

SB54: has not been good for the state of UT. 1. Signatures favors those who have money or who can raise money. 2. Doesn't connect voters to candidates. 3. Creates winners by plurality: less than a majority of the vote.  Will repeal and replace SB54 with a better election system: we can improve it and modernize it.  Need to fix it.  Need to look at the whole system.  Have to explain, as a candidate, how this whole thing works and it's very difficult for people to fix.

ERA: fan of equal pay for equal work.  Not a supporter.  Too many unintended consequences.

Para mutual horse racing?  Don't know what this is.

COVID-19: Anything different.  Don't want to be an armchair qb.  Need to rally around each other.  Do want more testing (Op Ed).  Outlined a 4 step process.  1. Need at risk population: stay as far away from infection 2. mass testing. ramp up testing in an unprecedented way. It's improving, but you can return society to a more normal state, and all people to self-quarantine.  3. Need as much personal protective equipment for health care workers.  4. Make contingency plans for hospitalization: plan for that capacity.

State is holding local municipalities hostage for moderate income housing.  They determine what moderate is, based on an average in Utah county?
Plans for housing.  Affordable housing crisis in this state: huge problem.  It's more than just housing--we have families in too tight of quarters or living in grandma's basement.  Have behavioral health challenges and then kids don't meet their potential in school.  As governor: I will NEVER mandate from the state level that requires local municipalities to change their zoning or land use ordinances to force them to have affordable housing.  Don't like it when the feds do that to the state and the state does that to the locals...
We have a not in my backyard mentality.  We need to de-stigmatize the concept of affordable housing, the best we can.  Need to do what Anderegg did (SB34 2018): state government won't mandate, but we're going to provide 25 things you can do to decide what you want to do.  How did that work?  when we first got it, we thought it was a bill with no teeth, but we were already doing 3 or 4 things in the bill and then we learned more things that other cities were doing.  We've built big box retailers in our cities, and we don't use big box retailers like we used to.  We required so much parking that we don't need anymore.  Inspired the land owner to create apartments. It can happen that single-family homes can be reduced and increase cost for those homes by taking up the land with apartments.  Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  But looking at density can make a difference.

Stay at home orders: Utah has 13 deaths.  I think Gov. Herbert's approach to let counties decide is the right answer.  Provide that local control.  where there are rural counties without a huge problem, they don't need a statewide mandate.  It's tricky because there are people who think that without the statewide mandate, you put people at risk.  But then you have rural counties that think they're handling it.  I believe citizens will do the right thing when they are asked to do it; and we need to respect that liberty and freedom of the individual.  I think if you get to that point, then maybe you have to look at it.

Sanctuary cities: Rule of law.  I believe in compassion for all people, and sanctuary city model is not working.  I think there are better ways.  Need a border.  When you talk about it honestly, you can seem like you lack compassion.  I think the more honest approach is the more compassionate approach.  

League of Cities and Towns interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hrygd0S8SyA

2A: unabashed supporter of 2nd amendment.  Right to bear arms.  Will never make decisions just based on optics when it comes to the 2nd amendment.  Teach my kids gun safety.  Hunter, outdoorsman.

Suicides: How to address?
How do you feel we should best address suicides in Utah. Every suicide is a tragedy and every life lost is horrific. But I have seen suicide numbers in our state be used to justify everything under the sun. Most recently a bill was passed for schools to perform mental health screenings on children. This was sold as a bill to "prevent suicides" and you voted for the bill. We also heard the bill to provide school breakfast justified with potential suicide. How much does this type of emotional blackmail factor into your decision making? Does the fear of a "Governor in favor of suicide" headline stop you from voting against the crowd sometimes?
Suicide is so tragic and so sad, and to read that Utah is number 1 in the suicide of our young people is heartbreaking.  As governor, I won't be afraid to talk about it.  Because if there's anyone out there that we can reach.  We have taken positive steps with the SafeUT App.  Steve Eliason has taken this on. Doing a great job on this.
I won't politicize this issue.  But we do have a mental health crisis in Utah, and an opioid epidemic in part because of that.  No one chooses to have diabetes or mental health issues.  Need to talk in candid terms.  Need to solve our mental health care professional shortage.  

April 10, 2020: 
Utahns Against Common Core: We're all very curious about some of your positions.  1 main things. 1. Ending Common Core, get rid of it, never internationally benchmarked, always problems.  The only way to get rid of it, is to do it from the bottom up. anytime we're tied to the feds, we're going to have problems.  Several years ago sat down with Stuart Adams, Dave Lifferths and Ben Leischman: bill to get off of fed dollars: too many strings.  How much is Utah on the hook for, if we cut off all the federal requirements?  It only puts at risk the Title 1 and Special Ed money with dollars.  
We've tried pretty much everything in this country with public ed except freedom: NCLB and CC.  Those programs don't work, because education isn't a one-size-fits-all.  Parents here should be able to choose.
There is a way to wean off the federal dollars.  We've had plenty of years of surplus and we've put things into a rainy day fund or spent it on other priorities.  The biggest priority should be the public ed system.  When you are in a plane that's been hijacked, you have to wean (descend) gradually.  The regs are coming primarily from the federal government.  What is the plan, to incrementally take less and less federal money.

Q: If we stop all federal regulations, the only amount at risk is that 2-2.5%.  
1 of the reasons I wanted Rob Bishop was his DC influence.  If there's anyone who can go to DC and get waivers, esp in the Trump administration, I have no doubt that there's no one more qualified to do that then Rob Bishop.
Rob Bishop: I'm still fighting NCLB.  I was listening on a call i wasn't supposed to be, where they were mocking Utah and how they were going to force us to do it.  Credit to Supt Harrington and Margaret Dayton.  Opposed to CC: it's an effort to centralize education.  Appreciative of the low amount of money.  But we have to be prepared as a state, in case the feds fight back.
Wednesday, I talked to a lot of people about education.  All of them were saying things that were astonishing and made me upset, but it fits in.  I think Obama's vision of federalizing all of education.  Congress never voted on that, I thought it was back-burner, but I'm realizing that we are implementing all those ideas, without authorizing.  I'm concerned with standards and assessments right now.  I'm concerned with pre-school standards which are controlled and authorized by workforce services, which means parents have less control over preschool than the regular education system.  What will be required will be on the state level and the governor's office to push back on the ed community who think these new ideas are just facilitators and progressive ideas.  Not a fan of technology in every classroom.  It's a tool NOT THE FUTURE of education.  Someone who's willing to take on the State Office of Ed and the State Board and make sure they are not trying to undercut.  It may be incremental.  But if we have an 8 year commitment and an 8 year goal to actually wean education away from the feds and put money into it to be willing to back up those plans.  

It's not just the money, but it's how we state statutes that have been implemented. 

Money is backward.  The money comes in from tax dollars, and then it goes to the USOE (full of subversives).  The fastest way to do it would be to give all funds to go to the schools on a pro-rata basis, and they might hire a third party company to help with book-keeping, then let them with the school community council, and then they make the decisions on the principal, and we'll help set teacher salaries, so it becomes the board for that school.  Then when they want to hire the district or the state office for services the school says they need.

Describing what inefficient organizations do.  They have allocations to business units from the top down and there's no transparency, but they never really know how much it's costing.  There's so much potential for fraud.

Special interest groups in the state have a lot of influence on standards and policies.  How do you  see your role to make sure that those are not overtaken by special interest groups instead of Utah's families?
Good intentions get filtered through some of the interest groups.  If there are groups with questionable backgrounds, if there are resources given to teachers with close ties to Planned Parenthood, and we need to push back on that from the bully pulpit of the governor's office.  When I was meeting with folks, there's not a wholistic approach to it.  You have the State Board, UEA, Legislature, and the challenge is that governor's have no statutory authority (to appoint charter board only).  The govenors have used bully pulpit, and budget.  I want to go to state board meetings and listen, and use the bully pulpit to draw awareness to these programs.  The most important thing the governor can do in 2021 is who we appoint. If you get the same people in office, you get the same bureaucrats in those same positions and the same power on the special interest groups.
What we have to do at first is to just yell and scream.  Rob says he yells very well.

Gubenatorial candidates don't have that much authority.  I'm into the consolidation of power.  How do we unentangle the state from the feds.  What I see, is that every year, I see about 200 ed bills every session.  And they pass them, and 150 go through and they're all well-intended.  Then it takes the school districts about a year to implement, and then they "fix" it again.  And we end up with so much red tape.  We want to create a big picture agenda for where we want to move education.  This happens because so many of these bills are sponsored by the state office bureaucrats.

If you clearly communicate what you're doing and you have the buy-in of leadership, then I have no problem with veto.  We have this big picture of education.  Don't want a negative campaign.  

Obama's big vision was to fundamentally transform the purpose of education. What we've missed in the CC debate, he's been successful.  the way they're training teachers and using assessments and using technology.  Obama nationalized education when he encouraged all the assessment companies to switch from facts to training kids to think emotionally.  

Rob would like to make the state board more of a funnel of monies, not setting policy.  We need to alert other governors to what is really going on out there.  As long as I'm there, I'm going to push this entire issue.

State School Board appointed by the governor: Not opposed to that.  But right out of the gate, attend state board meeting and try to create a big picture of public education.  If we find that the governance system is holding us back from what citizens want, then we need to have that conversation.  We don't want to centralize.  We want to have a big picture agenda, but if that's not working, then we'll use the governor's office to reform governance in education.
If we have a state board of education and we can't do any other forms of education and if they are going to have power, then they have to have some sort of check on them and have them elected.  Not sure you need one.

Have you read any of Sen. Ann Milner's bills?  Yes on the Board of Regents.  I've worked closely with Ann Milner, so I've carefully followed higher education.  

Generally, what is your use of veto power?  One of the most important and powerful parts of the executive branch.  I don't think you use it as a weapon.  You have to communicate your vision and values.  I have no problem using the veto power if they are not in line with Utah's values and not in line with the vision.  

Governor's pushing through the conversion therapy rule.  There were a lot of lies being told by the side in favor of the change and lot of misleading statements.  I thought it was a problem that they went around the legislature.
I don't like anything done by administrative rule and going around the legislature.  When we're in office, we will undo all the executive orders and start at zero.  We need to put things in place so that there are more legislative representation.  Don't like it done via administrative rule instead of the legislature.

SB54: Sen. Lee is endorsing Jon Huntsman.  
In 2011, I was elected to be the state party chair, and Count My Vote became a big thing.  CMV was planning on getting rid completely of convention via the ballot initiative.  We felt there were unintended consequences because of plurality.  In 2014, they promised they would fix it.  And now it's been 6 years, and there's been zero modifications to it.  Not good election law.  We now have been through it.  We didn't want to gather signatures.  I didn't want to.  It's already hard to beat the establishment candidates without it.  I don't think there's a campaign who is holding more townhalls, etc.  We are all in for caucus/convention.  
  1. it favors those who have a lot of money or can raise a lot of money.  that shouldn't be the case.
  2. it doesn't connect you to voters
  3. the plurality at the primary is a problem
If we didn't do signatures, we wouldn't be able to advance.  If you advance the Wright Bishop ticket through the primary because we are already on the ballot, we can win.  For 7 years, everyone in the party has been trying to get rid of SB54.  They may win the battle but lose the war.  The reason Jon Huntsman can't get signatures is that Wright Bishop team got them first.

Can you increase your support?  How much money can you raise?  Greg Hughes is up 16%. 
We all have different strategies.  Greg's name ID poll was done electronically and is a name ID poll and is flawed.  35-50% are still undecided.  An electronic poll that is done online that can be stacked. Our Phase 1 of the campaign was gathering signatures and it does nothing to connect you to voters.  Phase 2: compete in caucus/convention.  Phase 3: take the war chest and build the numbers with primary voters.  When there are 8 people in the field.

2nd Amendment: Unabashed supporters. Gun owner.  Any encroachment on 2A is a non-starter.  I don't believe in doing things that you are creating optics with red flag laws that claim to protect public safety.
Bishop: 2A is an individual right to self defense. needs to be seen as an individual right.

Executive order: When this crisis is over and the world will have changed.  I feel bad for those who have suffered physically and economically.  But it's also a problem for the government.  Everything is being done is being done by executive order.  We will make sure that every executive order is repealed.  And then work with the legislature so that they are involved in that.  Emergency powers under very vague laws.  It takes very special people that once you exercise those laws, to give that power back.  It can't just be downloaded from one branch.  I think we're creeping up to a line where we're getting to a really dangerous place.  I'm very uncomfortable with government in general knowing where we are.  I don't want to live in a surveillance state.  When Obama used his executive orders in the last part of his administration, he used vague areas of the law.  I think we need to narrow what is allowed via executive branch.  Even for Obama, when he was doing his executive orders, the courts did knock him down.  But there was enough gray areas because Congress wasn't specific enough.

General comment on your perspective on health care.  45 years in health insurance industry, and I've watched healthcare system be dismantled and we essentially have a government run health care system.  I know what it looks like to be in a free market system.
The problem with having no insurance wasn't that we didn't have access problems but affordability.  Now with ACA, we have less access as well as less affordability.  People don't know where the money is being spent, we would be getting more efficiency and accountability if we know of where the money is being spent. People need to be able to choose where they can get health care and then we need to understand what costs are associated with the health care provided. Rob: the only thing that can control costs is the marketplace.  Need to start over.  How do we get there?

Pro-life Utah: Most GOP politicians will say they are pro-life.  What does that mean to you?  And if you are elected governor, what would be different after your tenure.
Always been pro-life. Life begins at conception.  Unapologetic about it.  Locally and in state government, to support legislation to define what it is and to outlaw it.  Just have to keep taking that fight to the people who want to work against it.  When do rights begin?  When do human rights begin?  You have to be fighting for the rights of unborn.  Sometimes we take a defensive position on the pro-life.  we need to play offense and be unapologetic.  

How do you overturn Roe v. Wade and what is the state's role?
All i can do is let people know that Utah is unapologetic on where we stand on abortion and you can lead other governors and other states.   I think that the Right to Life March was 2500. That's awesome.  Let's go for 5000 next year.
Rob: Working with the legislature, I would never argue NOT to do something that would make Utah a test case.

Utah tends to be a little bit chicken and we see other conservative states taking a stand.  We'd like to know how courageous are you willing to be on this issue?  One of the frustrations with Family Watch Intl is that oftentimes issues will come up that will impact the gay community, and we find that our leaders listen to Equality Utah and they never listen to Family Watch or reach out.  It seems very lop-sided.  Looking for commitment to listen and champion the pro-family groups, and not give in to the bully tactics in the opposition. 
Rob: Seen environmentalists always had an open door from the Sec. of Interior, etc.  I realize what it means is having an open door that is not open to everyone.  Equality Utah should be able to make their case and have their say but not at the expense of everyone else. We want to make sure when we need to create statutes that don't discriminate against and harm people.  And we don't want to make some people helped by harming "others".

2020 Candidates for Governor: Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman:
Jon Huntsman held telephone townhalls.  They were more difficult for me because I like to see people as they respond.  But that's personal preference.

COVID-19: Health and Economy are both important.
Teddy Roosevelt: man in the arena, thanks to fellow candidates

Why do it again?
Honor to serve

Believe in federalism: Destiny is more and more in our hands, at the state level.
Education MUST be driven at the state and local levels.
Public lands: more determination from the state.

Look around the bend to plant the seeds of prosperity.

Trump will win.  Has a good relationship with Trump and that will matter.
Bank capital to small businesses with flexible repayment options.

Previous administration:
Flat tax
Almost removed the tax completely on food.  
short-term and long term growth plan, coming out very soon

Mental health is on his mind right now: buckle of the US for suicide.
We can't let this define who we are.  Want to declare war on this problem and bring folks together to coordinate an awareness strategy to demystify mental health.  Sister (drug overdose).  No one knew what to do.  Isn't the traditional political issue.

Roe v. Wade: Unabashedly pro-life, since forever.  Grateful that his two adoptive daughters were given life. Signed the pain-capable abortion legislation.

Ambassador: Obama (China), Trump (Russia).  We've done our federal service.  If I'm elected, will remain through the end of the term.  A lot of the fixes for the country will come out of the individual states.  This is the more important place.  Years abroad have not been easy, but given the best for the country.

What sets you apart?
The greatest teacher in life is experience.  Lots of experience. Get jobs back.

What is the most dangerous problem facing Utah and the world, other than COVID-19?
Mental health challenge. given the lives that are being taken and families that are being impacted, this is the most dangerous problem that we face.  As it relates to the world, economy, pandemics, one of our biggest problems and most dangerous, the spread of nuclear. Caller thinks the greatest problem is the destruction of the family. strong civilizations have strong families.

Championed no sales tax on food.  Will you champion a 0% food tax?
Tax reform: took 2 years to get through the system.  Excruciating, public input.  Got 100% of the legislature voted for it.  First flat tax in the country.  Great regrets was not getting it to 0%. Simplification.

Big concern about the growth in Utah.  What is your take and what's the remedy? City Council and legislation that don't hear the voice of the people.
City should be the first line of decision-making.  Unfunded mandates--shouldn't do that. Push decision-making down to the lowest form of government.
Growth is a companion of ours; we have to get used to it.  Bigger than average families; growth from within.  Folks who want opportunity, so they come from surrounding states.  Other states and large counties have lost the battle to growth.  Can't control their destiny and your economy begins to weaken, and those people leave.  Goal: place our economic development opportunities other than the Wasatch front.  Economic development strategies in other parts of the state. New industries in Price and Cedar. 

What specifically will you do to return control of education to the state and local level?  Are you willing to challenge the federal requirements of ESSA?
Defer to Michelle Kafusi: expert on education.  We were the first state to get out of No Child Left Behind.  National mandates and the standardized tests are not helpful. Need to let local boards, and schools, and esp principals be the main person "on deck".  Not going to be able to have a one size fits all approach.  Every child learns differently, different aptitudes, attitudes, etc.  

How is it fair that lt gov Cox oversees the election and validating the signatures?
LG didn't exist till 1975.  Was a Sec of State that oversaw the elections.  So, now LG oversees the elections. Trying to make it fair.  Don't know how far they've gone.

March 30, 2020:
Mental Health/Health/Economy: Complete free fall.

State Shouldn't step over the line on the local level.  
Michelle Kafusi: I think we'll be stronger and better for this crisis.  

People haven't experienced a single-payer system or they know it doesn't work.  When we look at the totality of healthcare, and it's a huge percent (20) of the nation's GDP (France's GDP).  Used to be 1-2%, and moving along at a double-digit clip.  1. Costs have to be an important part of what we do: but in the dr's office, there's no menu.  We get the bill later, and then we're shocked.  Employ transparency, John Dougall has done some good work on this.  Give consumers what the cost implications are.  We're not going to get there until there's more transparency. 2. Competitive insurance options are not really available.  It's within the purview of state government to do more in the insurance sector.  We don't have the types of the numbers or the accessibility in our market. 3. Real prohibitions in the country, in being able to buy insurance policies across state lines.  

How much support will you give the President: Know him and friends with him for 20 years.  Serve as their envoy to Russia and you'll get to know him.  I understand his style and it's different than any president since TR or Andrew Jackson.  He has a style that is unique to the business world, and he drives some people crazy (esp the media).  1. He's kept our nation out of war! 2. Economy has been excellent: best performing economy just before the pandemic.  This means we'll bounce back faster. Good thing to have a governor who gets along with him.  Need to get out of the mandates from the feds on lands and NCLB type of approaches on education.  

Rural issues: Top priorities.  Ancestors came from Fillmore.  Must love the rural communities as governor.  Took the whole legislature down to Millard County while the state capitol was being rebuilt.  Mental Health: focus on rural communities.  

Economic issues:
Tax reform: took 2 years.  Brought the public in to the discussion. 100% of the vote by the legislature.  First flat tax in the US.  Food tax?  Why should it go back up again?  Tax reform will be part of any economic recovery package.  Look at the service tax: the government shouldn't pick winners and losers, and that's the bigger problem with services.  Been through it before; know how to lead a team to produce results. Always having to do it again and becoming more competitive.

68% public lands are federal:
State is in a much better position to manage than the feds.  PILT are embarrassingly inadequate.  (Ken Ivory) Look at applying more of a market value to the lands, to see what a fair payment might be.  1. need a president who is open to look at these issues, and we have that with Trump 2. Need senators like Mike Lee who can help with this issue.  Might be able to reopen the Antiquities Act of 1906, review the original intent.  That hasn't happened but it was talked about.  

Ambassador to Russia: Why did you resign? I promised the president that I'd give him a couple of years, and that's what I did.  We went through the most difficult diplomatic period.  Honored to serve.  If we elect you, will you serve out your term?  Yes.  Federal service is done.  

My question: UNASWERED
Mental Health: Everyone acknowledges that mental health is a very complicated, complex issue.  The idea of "fixing" mental health from as a government is something that actually makes me nervous.  I don't think that government does a good job on things that appear to be outside its purview.  So, what specifically will you do, as governor, in terms of mental health? Allay my fears.

Integrity of the political system.

Mike Lee:  Council in Huntsman's office. Honored to have his endorsement; don't take it lightly.
President has asked Mike to join his taskforce on reopening the economy.  President is very engaged in this: we have to protect the public and we have to acknowledge that this isn't a binary choice in protecting human life and protecting the economy.  Not sustainable: there are human costs that come from shutting down the economy.  President wants to make sure we have a path toward doing that.
Developed profound respect for Jon, not just on a political level, but a personal one.  I trust him implicitly.  He is a conservative conservative.  While he was gov, being a conservative means undergoing a long checklist: within the proper role of government?  proper role at this level?  You'd be surprised at how rare that trait is.  That's why I have such profound respect.  Pres. Trump has profound respect for Jon Huntsman.  He will work very well with the current administration.  

Q. What conservative values does Gov. Huntsman embody?
He understands that every time government acts, it does so at the cost of individual liberty.

Q. What have you each learned from the other?
Jon:Mike had an exceptional grasp of governance and the appropriate role of government.  A lot of governors forget that most problem solving should be done at the local level.
Mike: There is a right answer when you are considering any question in government.  You have to assume there is a right answer and that it might be difficult to find and difficult to explain and controversial to the public.  But that doesn't excuse you to find and choose this right answer and then defend it. The true statesman is not just a delegate of the people, but a trustee of the people: difficult judgement calls.  If people don't agree with it, you have to explain why it's the right decision.  

Q. Very concerned of the economy?
It will be a problem until we actually get people back to work.  Phased in, but it's a problem.

Q. What is the governor's role in economic recovery and our return to leading the nation in economic growth?
Need to have a short-term program to stabilize ourselves.  We do well when we stick to the basics and stick to economic liberty.  What do we need to do to support that?  Tax rate? Education?  Connectivity to domestic and international markets?  Ag relies on export.  I think we have a great opportunity to be the first state to broadcast economic freedom and a safe haven. There will probably be a disruption in China's trade flows, and this will cause a lot of supply chains to be disrupted.  They'll be looking for alternatives.  We could see some of the most significant opportunities for economic growth.  We should see ourselves as the gateway of the world.  The years ahead should be nothing but optimistic. 

Q. We have had a number of incidents of shootings and every time it happens, the Dems cry out for get rid of guns.  What is your position on the second amendment and whether we should be holding onto our guns or giving them up?
Jon: Believe very strongly in the Second Amendment.  Grew up shooting.  How can you be anything but a shooter with a name like Huntsman.  I have a CCW.  I'm comfortable with where the state is now re/ 2nd Amendment. 
Mike: What will be the impact on the people subject to that law? What will it do to curb the impact on those who are criminals but also those who are law-abiding?  By the time something like this happens, dozens of laws have already been violated.  This can't be fixed with the band-aid of a gun control law.

Q. for Mike: Partnership between the governor and our delegation on public lands? How important is that?  And Trump is re-elected.
Mike: There's a lot we could accomplish.  I learned a lot about public lands; Jon Huntsman was an early pioneer in the area of public lands management.  2/3 of our land is owned by the feds and we have to get a Mother-may-I whenever we need to do anything.  We continue to be a public lands state, and we should be.  But 2/3 of it shouldn't be controlled by the feds.  Need to push PILT payments;  push for reform legislation.  

My question: UNASWERED
On education, I believe you are opposed to CC.  At what point and why did you decide Common Core was problematic and how do you propose to get out of it?  For Mayor Kafusi: what is your position on Common Core and while on Provo's school board, what were your actions regarding Common Core?