Gov. Herbert: ‘I understand Southern Utah’

Governor Gary Herbert, "Meet the Candidate" Town Hall in St. George, UT, Mar. 1, 2012 | Photo by Michael Flynn, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Smiles and handshakes were plentiful last night at the Dixie State College Gardener Center as locals had a unique opportunity to meet and speak personally with nearly a dozen Republican candidates.

Sponsored by Governor Gary Herbert, the event was billed as “Meet the Candidate Night,” and was the latest in a series of similar events Herbert has been holding across the state. The purpose of the event is to help familiarize the public with Republican candidates for local, state, and congressional offices before upcoming party caucuses on March 15.

The governor spoke to the audience about Utah’s economy, as well as several important regional issues such as public land access and management, water rights, and the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline. After the speech, a town hall style discussion took place as locals had a chance to ask Herbert questions directly.

Governor Gary Herbert, "Meet the Candidate" Town Hall in St. George, UT, Mar. 1, 2012 | Photo by Michael Flynn, St. George News

Herbert, who is himself facing a primary battle for nomination, spoke with St. George News briefly before taking to the stage; he explained why he believes that he is the best gubernatorial candidate for Southern Utah.

“I understand Southern Utah,” he said, “I also understand the public land issues, which are unique to Southern Utah, because I’ve been involved with rural Utah since my county commissioner days working on public lands, natural resource development, energy resource development, tourism, and travel.”

The governor went on to talk about Utah’s recent economic successes. “We’ve won the ‘National Championship’ twice: twice we’ve been the best named, the best state in America for business. Why would you want to change the coach?”

In his talk, Herbert compared the economy to a garden.

“You’ve got to have fertile soil,” he repeated throughout the night. He outlined an economic policy for Utah that focuses on cutting taxes, decreasing governmental regulations, and improving the educational system.

“We’ve got to raise the bar when it comes to math, reading, science, technology, and engineering if we’re going to compete in the global market place,” he said.

Herbert also spoke about his own heritage and family ties to the state.

“I am a sixth generation Utahn,” he told the crowd. “My ancestors came across the plains with Brigham Young.”

Afterwards, the governor took questions from the audience.

When asked about his views on the Lake Powell Pipeline, he expressed his support for the project: “We have water that we own and have rights too in the Colorado River, and we need to use them,” he said.

On the question of the controversial Green River Nuclear Plant, he was a bit harder to pin down, he said “On a macro scale, I support nuclear power, I don’t believe you can provide energy to meet the demands without having carbon-based fuels and/or nuclear power as the form.”

However, he was less certain about whether nuclear power could be safely generated in Utah: “The truth of the matter is, Utah doesn’t really have a lot to say about it, nuclear power plants are regulated by the federal government.”

Governor Gary Herbert, "Meet the Candidate" Town Hall in St. George, UT, Mar. 1, 2012 | Photo by Michael Flynn, St. George News

Herbert seemed less willing to allow the federal government to determine the fate of Utah’s public lands. He reaffirmed his support of recent legislative efforts to transfer all federally owned public land to the state. When asked about the issue, the governor was defiant.

“We are going to stand up,” he said. “We’re going to tell them: you know, you’ve been taking advantage of us for too long and we’re going to start pushing back.”

When asked to respond to the recent statement by Bureau of Land Management’s Director Bob Abbey, specifically that Utah’s legislative efforts to reclaim federal lands have “absolutely no chance of ever happening in the real world,” Herbert struck a further defiant tone, yet seemed to concede that success was unlikely.

“I understand that the legal challenge is not a slam dunk,” Herbert said. “There are some constitutional issues that we have to work through.”

He went on to indicate that recent moves by Utah legislators might be part of a larger strategy to help leverage Utah in negotiations with BLM officials.

“Sometimes you have to get the donkey’s attention, so you slap it upside the head with a two-by-four, and say, ‘hey, I’m serious about this. Pay attention,’” he said.

Herbert will be hosting one more “Meet The Candidate Night” in the state – March 10 at 2 p.m. at the Renaissance Academy in Lehi.

email: mflynn@stgnews.com

twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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6 Comments

  • John Farmer March 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    “However, He (Herbert) was less certain about whether nuclear power could be safely generated in Utah.

    “The truth of the matter is, Utah doesn’t really have a lot to say about it, nuclear power plants are regulated by the federal government,” Herbert said.”

    From this comment where to get that the Govonor is not certian we in Utah can produce nuclear power safely?

    Jfarmer9

    • Michael Flynn March 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      The Governor said that the question of whether Nuclear power could be produced safely is an open one, that will ultimately be for the NRC to decide.

      • John Farmer March 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

        MF,

        Hey, thanks for the reply to my bad diction. Anywho, it is good see a fellow
        Ohio guy make good. Whats you think the tribe has a chance or is it another rebuilding yr.

        Despite Tevo may think Brian Sipe is the original Cardiac Kid,

        Jfarmer9

  • Shane March 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I wonder if all the states in the west would be more effective if they collectively united against the Feds,(for the FBI guys reading this; I don’t mean unite against in any violent manner, just as collective voices with a common goal) as far as getting federal land into the hands of the state.

  • Firefly March 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Have the voters of southern Utah forgotten that this is the Govenor that signed into law the “guest worker” program for illegal immigrants? Who also, at first, signed the law protecting state legislators communications regarding official state business private and not allowing for transperancy, then rescinded the law?? Voters in southern Utah have a long memory and have not forgotten what Gov. Herbert has done in the past. Its an election year, you will be told what you want to hear. Maybe consideration should be given to “new blood” for a Governor. Morgan Philpot???

    • Skorpio May 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      I am glad someone brought that up.I heard him say something on TV a while ago that made me ill.He said it was the citizens of utahs obligation to pay for illegal immigrants education and medical care.Sounds to me like someone has brainwashed by LA RAZA to me or should I say the LDS church(the new la raza).It is my obligation to take care of my family,and then maybe veterans,seniors,less fortunate american citizens etc.Not one dime to illegals.They have no freebies coming.This type of thinking is what propagates the illegal invasion and incentive to come here.As far as I am concerned he threw out the welcome mat for the cartels.

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