VOTE: Governor hopefuls on Southern Utah, differences and mistakes

Background photo dated March 2010 shows the Thomas Kearns Mansion, a historic home in Salt Lake City, Utah, that serves as the Governor's Mansion. Overlay profile photos show the candidates running for governor in Utah's 2016 general election; they are, from L-R: American Independent candidate Superdell Schanze, Libertarian Brian Kamerath; Democrat Mike Weinholtz; Republican Gary Herbert, incumbent. | Mansion photo by Tricia Simpson, profile photos courtesy of the candidates campaign websites except for Schanze's courtesy of utah.gov website; composite image St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The race for governor of Utah has four candidates vying for the position. Republican Gary Herbert, incumbent; Democrat Mike Weinholtz; Libertarian Brian Kamerath; and American Independent Superdell Schanze.

Herbert, Utah’s 17th governor was inaugurated August 11, 2009, after previously serving as lieutenant governor for five years. The four cornerstones of his administration’s efforts to strengthen Utah, according to his website, are education, jobs, energy and self-determination. Herbert and his wife Jeanette have of six children and 16 grandchildren.

Weinholtz is a third-generation factory worker who attended night school and rose to become the CEO of CHG Healthcare. Weinholtz is an award-winning and nationally celebrated business leader and credits his success to his leadership principle of “Putting People First.” Weinholtz and his wife, Donna, have been residents of Salt Lake City for over 20 years. He said his commitment as governor will be to “put Utahns first, even above partisan politics.”

Kamerath’s platform is one of personal responsibility and less government. He lives in Salt Lake City with his wife Diane. They have three children.

Schanze is a paraglider instructor and general manager of Flat Top Paramotors and U-Turn USA in Salt Lake City. His stated reason for running for governor is to stand firm with the God-inspired Constitution and ensure freedom and justice for all. Superdell and his wife, Teresa, reside in American Fork.

St. George News submitted three questions to the candidates.

Question 1: Many in Southern Utah feel like the leaders in Salt Lake have forgotten about them and do not fairly represent them. How would your administration reach out to help Southern Utah on items such as (but not limited to) the Lake Powell Pipeline, the rapid growth in Southern Utah, and the rising taxes?

“Our state can only reach its full potential when all Utahns are represented and issues in rural Utah or southern Utah are addressed to the benefit of citizens in those areas and for the state as a whole,” Herbert replied by emaił. “It was one of the key reasons I chose Spencer Cox as my lieutenant governor when Greg Bell resigned. I wanted to make sure rural Utah had a stronger voice in state government. To this day, Lt. Gov. Cox lives in Sanpete County and makes the drive to the Capitol.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert | Profile photo courtesy of Herbert for Governor campaign website, St. George News
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert | Profile photo courtesy of Herbert for Governor campaign website, St. George News

One thing Herbert grew to appreciate during his time as lieutenant governor, he said, is the importance of state leaders understanding issues important to all the people in Utah not just those those who live along the Wasatch Front.

“I’ve made it a priority to visit every county every year I’ve been in office,” Herbert said in the email. “Getting out and meeting with local leaders and talking to people face-to-face helps me get a clearer understanding of the challenges we face.”

Weinholtz said his leadership style is to listen to the people to best understand what it is they want and need and then work with them to accomplish those things. He cited many visits to St. George and Washington County over the past few months for that purpose, and related some of his findings.

“I couldn’t find a single person there, Democrat, Republican or independent who is in favor of the Lake Powell Pipeline,” he said. “In fact, the only people I can find in favor of it are those that stand to make money off of it.”

He has heard a couple different version of rapid growth concerns, he said, and criticized the current state administration.

“Frankly, I need to better understand what the facts are,” Weinholtz said. “One of the versions I heard is that Southern Utah is not growing as fast as it was projected and that some of the estimates were over-projected. But clearly, we’re growing everywhere in the state, including Southern Utah, so we need to have a long-term plan for things like water and roads and more importantly, education.

“Governor Herbert’s administration has not done a good job of doing long-term planning in those areas, which is why every legislative session they end up scrambling to figure out what can we afford to do with this year’s budget instead of having a 10-year plan for these things.”

Barry Short, candidate for Utah’s Lt. Governor on Kamerath’s ticket, submitted responses for Kamerath by email. The two agree that Utah government is too often focused on the Salt Lake Valley and excludes other parts of the state, he said. With this in mind, Short and Kamerath gave two specific points on how they plan to represent all interests.

“First of all, Lieutenant Governor candidate Barry Short is a resident of Cedar City, has never been a resident of northern Utah, and has a good grasp of the issues that face the rural areas of the state – including water, jobs, being taxed for projects that specifically benefit only the Wasatch (like TRAX, and the Salt Palace), and the extensive federal land holdings,” the statement said. “With Barry’s presence, there will always be a voice in the Governor’s office to speak on behalf of rural Utah.

Democratic candidate Mike Weinholtz | Profile photo courtesy of Weinholtz for Governor website, St. George News
Democratic candidate Mike Weinholtz | Profile photo courtesy of Weinholtz for Governor website, St. George News

“Second, a cornerstone of our approach is open access to the Governor’s Office,” the statement said. “Governor ‘Available Jones‘ Herbert bragged about offering access and results for a price; we believe every citizen of this state should be able to access the governor, at absolutely no cost. To facilitate this, there will be a block of time offered every month, at the office in Salt Lake City, where anyone – anyone – can come and have 5 minutes of face time with the Governor and/or Lieutenant Governor.”

In addition to their two points, Kamerath and Short pledged in their statement to hold a similar session at least twice a year in every county in the state to get direct input and hear from everyone who has something to say.

“No one person can know everything,” the Kamerath-Short statement said, “but by relying on information from across the state, from all the people of Utah, we can address dozens, perhaps hundreds of issues that simply are never raised otherwise.”

Schanze didn’t address any specific issues but rather said, through Facebook chat, that being open and available to his constituents is very important.

“There is nothing really special I would do for any particular area,” Schanze wrote, “but unlike others I am a real person who is actually available for people to contact directly about any real issues.”

“It’s all about just having a real person as governor that is actually interested in helping the people,” Schanze wrote, “instead of like what we have currently where they just continue the anti-American socialist liberal perverted agenda.”

Question 2: Do you believe that special interest groups dominate the Legislature and Governor’s Office? What steps would your administration take to limit that influence?

“I can only speak for the governor’s office,” Herbert said by email. “We make policy based on what is best for the people of our state. I have said many times, I am conservative in principle, moderate in tone and inclusive in process. When we face a policy decision, I want to know as much as I can about the issue and get insight into the perspective of as broad of a group of stakeholders as possible. That’s how good policy is made, by listening to differing viewpoints and then making a decision that aligns with my principles, chief among them being that the policy we implement is in the best interest of the people of our state.”

Weinholtz aims to limit influences, wherever they stem from.

“I think whether it’s the LDS church or other corporate lobbyists,” he said, “I would seek to limit the influence of them by using the veto pen if I feel that too much influence has been exercised against the will of the people of Utah.

Libertarian candidate Brian Kamerath | Profile photo courtesy of Kamerath for Governor website, St. George News
Libertarian candidate Brian Kamerath | Profile photo courtesy of Kamerath for Governor website, St. George News

After Herbert came out with his “Available Jones” comments, Weinholtz said, he held a press conference to declare he is not taking any corporate money, any money from corporate lobbyists or groups to avoid that conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest.

Short said in his email exchange with St. George News that he believes the thing that makes the Libertarian Party candidates unique is that they both come from different backgrounds but when combined, they represent the entire state.

“Brian Kamerath is an active member of the LDS church; Barry Short is not,” the pair’s statement said,”and yet we are friends who find far more that we agree upon than the few areas where we differ.”

Kamerath often uses the term “agency” while Barry uses the expression“individual choice,” their statement said, but both agree that one of the main causes for concern about the church’s political activity is that “government is simply involved in areas that simply aren’t any of government’s business.”

Short also applied principals of the Libertarian Party to how they would address crime and safety in the state.

“We believe that crime requires a victim, and that if there is no victim then there is no crime,” he said in his email, “and (we) would seek to eliminate laws (and their enforcement) that violate that understanding.”

For Schanze, special interest groups are at the heart of Utah’s current problems.

“The special interest groups and devil’s media are the No. 1 reason we have the issues we have,” Schanze wrote in his Facebook message. “It seems quite obvious and simple that all external funding and promotion of candidates should stop immediately and each and every candidate should be promoted and highlighted equally and fairly so we can start getting real people elected instead of the same anti-Christ elitists working to utterly destroy truth, justice and the American constitutional republic.”

Schanze finds it completely ridiculous, he wrote, that those putting in millions and millions can just buy the power they want.

“It’s very self defeating to have such a structure as there is no possible way to get real people who are real and legit candidates in office,” he wrote.

Question 3: Can you tell about a mistake you’ve made in the past and how you rectified the situation? Looking back, what would you have done differently?

Herbert’s campaign manager said in his email that he would not be able to run this question by the governor within the time frame allowed for this report.

American Independent candidate for governor Superdell Schanze, undated. | Photo courtesy of utah.gov website, St. George News
American Independent candidate Superdell Schanze | Profile photo courtesy utah.gov website, St. George News

Weinholtz said:

We held the ‘Saturday’s Voyeur’ fundraiser in Salt Lake City. I did not realize that many members of the LDS church would be offended by that. We thought about it carefully . I have many LDS friends who attend ‘Saturday’s Voyeur’ every year and appreciate it for the satire and musical comedy that it is.

I heard many complaints from members of the LDS church that they thought it was insensitive or that I was anti-LDS. I am certainly not anti-LDS. The people that know me know where my heart is.

If I had it to do over again, I probably would not have that fundraiser. We didn’t do it to send a message to the LDS church or anything else, We had it because ‘Saturday’s Voyeur’ is a 40-year-old institution in Salt Lake City and we thought it would be a fun night for our supporters to go to.

Because it offended people that I did not intend to offend, I probably would not do that again.

Short replied with his own reflections rather than Kamerath’s. In an email exchange, he wrote:

I would say the thing that I’ve learned over the years that is most valuable to me is to not take things personally. Not every thing that another person does that I disagree with, or don’t approve of, was done to be a personal affront to me. I’ve learned to let it go.

That doesn’t mean I excuse or condone harm when it’s done, but as long as another person’s decisions don’t affect me directly, and do not do harm to others, they’re none of my business. I think that’s a characteristic that would serve me well in office.

Schanze answered by Facebook message, he said:

I’ve made no real notable mistakes in my life which is why my life has been so perfectly and utterly blessed to ridiculous levels. I learned of God and received the gift of the Holy Ghost when I was very young and have spent my life serving God and following his guidance.

So while others have made horrible mistakes destroying their lives and losing their family and children I’ve had no such issues or difficulties. Only one incredible success after another. If all people kept the commandments and followed God we wouldn’t have any of the issues that we have today.

Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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