All eyes are on the Governor’s Mansion this year, as the 2020 election promises a new state leader for Utah. Incumbent Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) announced in 2019 he would not run for re-election, leaving the seat open for the first time in over a decade.
Chris Peterson, a law professor from the University of Utah, is vying for the seat in an effort to govern the widely GOP-lead Utah as a Democrat.
“I do think that it’s time for change,” Peterson said in an interview with The Forum. “I think that we’ve had one-party control in our state for a long time, and that’s okay. I mean the public should get the government that they want. But, that doesn’t mean that just because it was like that in the last election or the one before that we should continue down that same path.”
Utah hasn’t had a Democrat in the governor’s mansion since 1985. Additionally, the Beehive state has given its electoral votes to the Republican presidential candidate every election since 1968.
However, Peterson said he thinks the political landscape in Utah is changing — pointing to voter interests in the 2018 midterms that are typically associated with the Democratic party.
“Utah typically votes red but not always,” he said. “In the last election of 2018, we had a very big turnout […] that led to passage of the Medicaid expansion proposition [and] a ballot measure that attempted to crack down on unfair gerrymandering in our elections.”
These issues, he said, have been historically associated with Democratic politicians.
Peterson’s running mate, Karina Brown, had an instrumental role in the passage of the Medicaid expansion (Proposition 3) in 2018. That on-the-ground experience — going door-to-door to gather signatures to get the measure on the midterm ballot — inspired her to get into politics, she said.
“I was frustrated and angry when my mother passed away in the healthcare coverage gap,” Brown said. “It’s been so satisfying for me and I’m so excited about the whole process of democracy of the fact that we can make positive change.”
Brown served as one of the citizen sponsors of Prop. 3, which later passed in Utah with majority vote. She is also co-chair of Cache Celebration of Women’s Suffrage 2020, an organization working to celebrate the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote.
The two are running on a ticket facing current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and his running mate Diedre Henderson. You can listen to the second episode of the Behind The Ballot podcast series here— or tune in to The Forum on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud.
Below is a written transcript of the full interview with Peterson and Brown with editor-in-chief Cami Mondeaux. Answers have been lightly edited for conciseness and clarity.
CAMI MONDEAUX: I’m here today with Chris Peterson and Karina Brown, the Democratic candidates for Utah’s governor and lieutenant governor.
The two are on a ticket facing current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox running as the Republican candidate with his running mate Diedre Henderson. Chris and Karina advanced straight to the November ballot after the Democratic State Convention on April 25.
Thank you so much for joining me today.
CHRIS PETERSON: Well, thank you Cami, thank you so much for having us. It’s an honor to be here. Big fan of Westminster University, and I’m excited to talk with you today.
KARINA BROWN: Thank you so much for hosting us, Cami. Cami had reached out weeks ago to make sure she had our pictures up on their website during the Republican primaries so thank you for promoting balance in government. We appreciate that.
CM: Today we’ll be diving into your campaign, understanding where you stand on the issues – especially the issues college students care the most about. But before we get into all that, I’m really interested in hearing what encouraged you two to run for office.
CP: Yeah, and to answer your question, I was a bit surprised — I hadn’t been planning like many people to run for governor for years on end. But I had been in public service a long time, I think that it made sense that the Democratic party to a degree, you know, reached out and recruited me to run for governor.
And I’m excited for the potential, the opportunity to do so because I do think that it’s time for change. I think that we’ve had one-party control in our state for a long time, and that’s okay. I mean the public should get the government that they want.
But, that doesn’t mean that just because it was like that in the last election or the one before that we should continue down that same path. I think that it’s time for change.
As I thought about running that’s the thing that really led me to do so.
I care so much about people, I want to make sure our government is working for ordinary Utahns all across our state.
Folks in rural areas, folks that are struggling to get by, in West Valley City where I grew up, in Rose Park, in Ogden, in Cache County where Karina’s from. So I’m excited to talk about the issues today and share a bit about our message.
CM: Perfect, and Chris: Although you haven’t held an elected position, you have extensive experience in law and advocacy for everyday citizens. How do you think that experience will put you in a unique position to serve as governor?
CP: Well, thank you. I do have quite a bit of experience in government. I worked in the Obama Administration, helping set up the new consumer financial protection bureau, or the CFPB it’s called.
Think about it like the FBI, except for trying to make sure our student loans, credit cards, mortgage loans and things like that are fair and work for the public. I also worked at the United States Department of Defense, the Pentagon — helping design its rules and policies to protect our active duty military service members in the same way, on the same issues.
And so, I’ve represented the Pentagon and negotiations with the White House, I’ve worked at the top levels of our federal government. And so, I do believe I have some of the experience in the executive branch of government that would help me be the effective enforcer of the law.
Of course, what the governor’s really there to do is implement the laws that the state legislature passes. I have a lot of experience doing that in some ways as much as anyone that was in the field. So, I’m excited to have the opportunity.
The other thing I bring to the table — is a decades-long track record of advocating for ordinary working Utahns. Making sure that our marketplace is fair and treats people decently.
I’m going to be an advocate for things like improved access to health care, consumer safeguards in the marketplace, increased funding for public education and also, we’ve got to get this virus under control. I hope we’re going to have some time to talk about that as well.
CM: And then Karina: Similarly, you also have extensive experience with expanding health care coverage across the state, and I read that you had a big role in getting Prop. 3 on the ballot that passed.
So, how do you think this on-the-ground experience will help you as lieutenant governor?
KB: Well, actually Medicaid is what drew me into politics. I was frustrated and angry when my mother passed away in the health care coverage gap. I was frustrated and angry with myself, and the system and I wanted to figure out, “What can I do to help this situation?”
For other people who could be in similar circumstances to my mother. So, through reaching out to elected officials [and] through getting involved, getting more organized over the last several years, I was invited to be one of the five citizen sponsors of Proposition 3 to expand Medicaid.
Seeing that whole process of starting with a feeling in my heart, “I’m really concerned about something, I want to make a difference,” to connecting with other people in non-profits and elected officials [and] Utah representatives.
[It’s] been a powerful experience for me to see it go from that, to be invited to be a sponsor of the ballot initiative. For it to get enough signatures to get on the ballot and for it to pass with a majority vote.
And then to see approximately 120,000 Utahns are eligible for Medicaid that may need it, especially during this time of the pandemic it’s really important. It’s been so satisfying for me and I’m so excited about the whole process of democracy of the fact that we can make positive change.
We can get involved, we can work together, and as lieutenant governor I would have oversight over the elections and that’s just a sacred thing to me. It’s a real privilege to participate in our democracy through voting.
CM: And Chris, like you mentioned a little bit earlier: A Democrat hasn’t held the governor’s seat in Utah since 1985. And also there hasn’t been an open seat like we’re seeing in this election in a long time as well.
Why do you think you’re the best candidate to take over, especially when Utah typically votes red?
CP: Well, Utah typically votes red but not always. You know, Karina already mentioned a great example. In the last election of 2018 we had a very big turnout where more young people, more lower-income people, folks that oftentimes vote Democratic have turned out in big numbers.
And that led to passage of the Medicaid expansion proposition [and also] a ballot measure that attempted to crack down on unfair gerrymandering in our elections designed that voting districts [that] put all the Democratic voters in one spot.
Republican voters voted against that practice and they passed medical mairjuana when it’s prescribed by a physician. Those three issues have been historically associated with Democratic politicians all across the state.
So, you know, things may be changing here in Utah. If we can pass those three ballot measures, then a Democrat can win. And I think — with a lot of discontent with leadership in Washington right now, and frankly talking about the president of the United States. Some people, I know a lot of Utahns, still support him.
My sense is, though, that there’s a lot of discontent and that he’s not a positive role model for our children, and his values aren’t consistent with the values of most Utahns. And right now — I think it’s fair to say some mismanagement of critical issues in our state.
Our economy is really struggling. Massive unemployment, a lot of businesses are failing, and you know we’re just not getting the job done in limiting the spread of this dangerous virus. With all of that happening, there’s a chance we can win it this year.
I’m not saying we’re going to, who knows, but no crystal ball came with the nomination to run for the Democratic Party. But I do believe there is real enthusiasm for change, and if we can get people excited and join our campaign, if we can raise some money and get some volunteers out there on the phone and coming to our events online — there’s a chance we’re going to turn Utah blue in the governor’s mansion this year.
CM: Let’s just get into some of the issues. I’ve done a bit of research and I’ve talked to several different college students that I know on my campus to find out what their top-tier voting issues are. We’ll go through those and have you address how you would prioritize these issues if elected.
First, I have education. Just finding out what your goals and priorities would be surrounding making higher education more affordable, as well as K-12 public education better prepared for stepping into college and beyond?
CP: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. How about this? Why don’t I take higher education and Karina you can talk about K-12 education? We both see eye-to-eye on most of these issues but I want to make sure that I’m sharing the time.
On higher education, first let me say that I’m so grateful and excited to be talking with a college student like you and your listeners — most of you know, I’m a law professor just down the street at the University of Utah.
I’ve spent my whole career trying to make sure that my students are taken care of and that I’m a good teacher — trying to be (laughs). But I believe that the cost of higher education are getting too high — it’s been outpacing inflation for years and years and now students are struggling to reach for their goals and after they graduate, they’re struggling to repay student loans that they’re taking on and the size and volume that is just too high.
But it’s not the same at every university or every institution. So some of the biggest problems that I believe actually are for-profit private schools that are trade schools that charge exorbitant tuition. You know, more expensive to go to some of these trade schools than it is to go to Harvard.
And yet, if they get their degrees, many more people drop out and tend to not be very high quality. A lot of the money they raise is actually just spent on advertising to get more students.
Not instruction, not research, not trying to invent new science, not taking care of the students. That’s where some of the biggest issues are. I do think that our community colleges are doing a great job of providing an alternative to that and I think we need to try and get students steered into community colleges instead of some of those for-profit technical schools.
But even beyond that, I think we need to reinvest in our higher education system both with federal funding, state funding and putting pressure on university administrators and leadership to get those tuition prices and fees down.
And then after, when students graduate and they’ve got some student loans we need to make sure they’re being treated fairly and that those student loan repayment systems make sense, that the promises that are made to them about their student loan debt forgiveness are being honored by the government and by the private debt collection companies that are hired by the federal government and state government has a real role to play in that.
Making sure that if there are complaints, if students are not being heard the state department division of consumer protection and the attorney general’s office are responding to make sure that student loans are being collected in a fair, efficient way. A lot of the student lending issues, much of those are at the federal level because about 90% of the student loans in America are owed to the United States government as opposed to state governments.
If I’m elected governor, I’ll be putting pressure everywhere I can to try and make higher education more affordable but still high quality to try and make sure our young people and people that are getting educated have a great pathway to getting good jobs and enriching education.
KB: In regards to K-12 education, just as a matter of information for the viewers out there — our family has two daughters in college, one just graduated high school so she’ll be starting college in a couple weeks and another daughter that will be a junior.
Then we have two children that are in junior high and high school, so public school has been really important to our family because our children have attended public school and K-12 education is so important. It’s so important that we have that as a priority and in our budget documents.
And Utah, there have been several stories recently that have come out that show Utah’s ranked one of the last states for per-pupil funding and has been consistently one of the last states for per-pupil funding. And I know we love our families here, we love children here but I think we need to put priorities on increasing the per-pupil funding amount for K-12 students and also increasing teacher pay.
There’s some competition between Utah and other states, I’ve known people who have moved to other states so that they can get a higher pay if they work law enforcement or as teachers so we need to make sure that we’re paying them enough.
Also I think we need to look at tax loops, tax credit incentives that are given out so that we are careful that our revenue is protected for the most important needs that we have. There’s also an earmark right now in the state constitution that income tax funds can be used only for education and so I support that.
There will be a measure on the November ballot to change that so that the income tax funds can be used for expenses other than education. That will be a hot topic for the November ballot, something to look into, too.
So, yes I think our budgets, our state budgets are moral documents and when we prioritize learning, when we prioritize investing in the next generation, I think that’s powerful.
CM: And then you both have unique perspectives that you can bring. I mean, Chris you’re a college professor and Karina you said you have kids that are in the system. Do you think those are unique perspectives that are needed in the governor’s mansion coming into 2021?
CP: I think we have a good perspective, I don’t know if it’s unique or not but I will say that — on Karina’s point about the dead last in the nation per-pupil funding in our public schools. You know, our — the part has been in power for a long time.
They own that. And the lieutenant governor, he was in the state legislature, he’s been in the governor’s mansion, working with the governor — and they have not got the job done.
It’s not personal. He’s a good guy, I really like him. I think he’s a nice person. But the simple fact is we have not for years found a way to get the funding that the kids need to have the best chance to succeed.
And that’s not okay, that’s a different perspective, it’s a real distinction in our campaign. If I’m elected governor, I’m going to be fighting for those kids and students to make sure that the most important investment that we have in our future is actually being funded appropriately.
They need to make sure that the resources that they need, that the counselors, the textbooks — I also have three kids, all of whom are in public school. My oldest is still in high school and in his Spanish class last semester before the summer break, they had four kids who didn’t have seats in the Spanish class.
In a public school, right here in Salt Lake City just down the hill from the Capitol building. Our kids in many classes don’t have enough seats to sit in. Now that’s not acceptable in the state that wants to win the future and train kids to be, to have great careers and great opportunities.
We’ve got to start with some of the basics here and we’re just not getting the job done, it’s time for change.
CM: And then, moving on to the next issue I have which is climate change. So, what would some goals or priorities be surrounding man-made climate change, which you’ve said you do believe in — which I think was different from other gubernatorial candidates who may have not acknowledged man-made climate change.
So what would some goals or priorities be surrounding that as well as reducing air pollution in the state?
CP: So, it’s a great question. I think that climate change is one of the greatest challenges my generation and your generation are facing. The history, the fate of the world rests in the balance of how we start to deal with this problem — and it’s such a big problem and its consequences aren’t felt acutely, right away, all the time.
We are seeing changes, the climate is changing. It’s creating droughts, it’s creating more intense storms, we’re already seeing sea levels rise. So we’re seeing the effects of climate change now but it’s going to accelerate and it’s going to cause a lot of problems in the coming years.
And so I think Utah has to do its part to start making changes. I do think, also, it’s related to but it’s somehow separate from the air pollution which is a big problem here in the state of Utah and one that has bipartisan agreement about.
You know, Republicans and Democrats — everybody in Utah wants to clean up the air. In the past years, the leadership just hasn’t been getting the job done. So here are some steps that I think we need to take:
First, to deal with air pollution we already know that tier-3 gasoline — which is gasoline that is refined differently, it produces fewer fine particulate matter that gets into your lungs and causes lung problems.
We know how to produce that, it’s not that much more expensive and only some of the refineries are doing it, only some cars are getting filled with that tier-3 gasoline. We need to very quickly move to get that tier-3 gasoline all throughout the state of Utah to try to get some of those emissions down and be a little less polluting.
Second, we also need to start incentivising a much faster transition to plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles that produce no or much lower emissions from the vehicles. I also think we need to transition to distributed rooftop solar production and storage in our residences, especially new construction but also retro-fitting older residences as well as our businesses and our public buildings.
Every public school in the state of Utah could be a power plant if we started installing solar power panels on the top of those buildings, it could decrease the long-term energy costs of our public school system, it saves some resources, and also decreases some of the emissions that we’re putting in the air by burning fossil fuels or coal.
I also think we need to develop clean energy commercial power plants in rural Utah to try and get some good high-paying jobs in rural Utah — and also decrease our emissions and that includes solar, wind — and, Utah by some rankings has some of the highest availability of geo-thermal energy in the country.
Geo-thermal energy, of course, is where there’s geological hotspots that you drill down, and can boil water and run turbines off of them and it produces clean, efficient energy 24 hours a day — you don’t even have to store it in batteries.
Why aren’t we doing that? Well we just haven’t gotten the job done, it’s time for us to transition and invest some of our infrastructure improvements in that.
And also we need to try and decrease the amount of time we’re spending driving back and forth and we can do that by encouraging more telecommuting. I think we’re all learning something about that in the COVID-19 crisis and how it can be pretty effective in some of these online meetings once you get the hang of it and get used to it.
And we got to redesign our vision for the future on how we’re going to power and zone residences. We should be looking to try and create walkable towns and neighborhoods where people can live in close proximity to the places where they study and work, and get some of those cars off the road to try and decrease our air pollution overall.
If we do all of that, then we can come up with a realistic goal of getting to a net zero future where we’re not putting up any more carbon in the atmosphere than we’re taking out. That’s where we need to go, we need to try and make progress on climate change.
It’s a moral obligation we have to ourselves and our children and our grandchildren.
KB: And I invited Cami to our discussion this evening, we’re going to be having a climate change roundtable with some young activists and some professors and I think community education is important when it comes to climate change.
What can we do individually to help reduce climate change, man-made climate change, by our individual actions and I think sometimes people get into this pattern of thinking, which is easy to do, where it’s like, “No matter what I do it doesn’t make a difference.”
And they fall, but we can make a difference. Especially when we all work together, when it comes to climate change and other areas too.
CP: You’re so right, Karina. And we can make a difference. Human-caused climate change is real, and just as we caused it we can stop. But we’ve got to have leadership and a sense of personal responsibility and start making changes.
RACIAL JUSTICE AND POLICE REFORM
CM: And then, moving on to the third issue that I have here: Racial injustice and police reform – which has been a big issue in the last few weeks with several national protests, even here in Salt Lake City we’ve been seeing them.
I was curious what your thoughts are on different state responses to the protests and would you do the same thing that the Utah governor’s been doing?
Would you change it and — how you would address these issues if you were in office?
CP: Well, thank you Cami and it’s such an important question. It’s one that’s very emotional and difficult for a lot of people. We need to lay some groundwork about values, and then let’s talk about policy in a second.
So first off, I want to start by saying that in my view the words, “Black Lives Matter” are important to say. And by saying that, I don’t mean to imply that other lives don’t matter — that’s not what I’m saying.
I’m also not saying that police lives don’t matter. We know that those lives do matter, too — and I care about them. Obviously, I do.
But, historically Black Americans suffered when we had slavery and there’s been a long shadow of that — of the Jim Crow era, and continuing ongoing discrimination. And they’ve been struggling from systemic racism.
Look, sometimes racism is the worst variety — where it’s intentional, deliberate, white supremacist bigotry. But, other times it’s more subtle and sometimes it’s accidental. And people don’t realize they’re doing it.
Implicit bias is something we all need to work on, I know that I do. Everybody does. It’s something that, in order to come together and form that more perfect union that’s in the founding goals of our society — which although we’ve been flawed in reaching that goal, we are still struggling.
And I think that the arc of justice does bend — the arc of history does bend toward justice. We need to do better on that. So, I want folks who are listening to know that I know and believe that Black lives matter.
But that being said, I also recognize that there’s an important place for protests in our society when people are aggrieved, when they have grievances. They have the right to speak up and be heard and assemble and petition the government to change.
But, some of the protests have gone too far and I think it’s a relatively small number where — I don’t agree with violence, I don’t agree with breaking laws or destroying property. But I want to emphasize that’s actually a very small number of people who are very frustrated and frankly, I think they need to be held accountable.
They should probably pay some fines and maybe do some community service to make up for that but I want you to know, even those folks who are protesting — I still care about them and I still hear you and I’m paying attention.
And I also have to say something about law enforcement. Right now, law enforcement is feeling demoralized, a lot of police have morale problems, they’re feeling frustrated, some of them are lashing out and behaving inappropriately.
But many of our police officers are continuing to act in professionalism and care and are actually taking care of some of the protesters. So, I want our law enforcement to know that I also care about them, and that I believe in law and order.
And I’m grateful for the work that they’re doing to try and protect victims of crime. Which is still a real thing.
There’s a lot going on in society, but in the background there are still women who are in abusive relationships or suffering from domestic violence. There are children who are being abused and there are financial frauds and scams and abuses taking advantage of businesses and low-income people alike.
So, we need to have law and order in our society and we also need it to be professional, have civility and courtesy, and to protect and serve all people — especially those who have been most disadvantaged.
Who are our black and brown brothers and sisters, they need to be cared for and treated with the same civility we would expect for everyone. So, somehow in this complicated pattern, we’ve got to find a common ground and compromise and move forward.
Some of the reforms that seem to make sense to me and that have promise for change include the training standards that the state government establishes and that include more implicit bias training, conflict de-escalation — so training police officers and ongoing bases to come up with techniques, verbal techniques to try and de-escalate situations so it doesn’t become violent unless it’s absolutely necessary.
I think there are battery legal reforms we can look at, including requiring a police officer to use the least violent method possible to reasonably protect them in the circumstances. I also think that we should be looking for ways to get the community involved in community policing including citizen review boards that can potentially make — have more influence in determining whether or not police officers that are engaged in violence are going to be charged with a crime.
So that’s just a handful of a list, I realize I’m going on too long so I’m going to stop. But I’ve been studying this quite a bit, and I’m listening to both sides.
Karina and I have met with — [the] police union, we’ve also been meeting with Black Lives Matter protesters, the Democratic Party’s Black Caucus and some of our other community activists — trying to prepare ourselves to find common ground and make progress, de-escalate conflict and treat everyone with civility, decency and respect.
CM: Karina, do you have anything to add to that?
KB: I just echo what Chris said, you know we’ve had some powerful discussions with different people and one of them went, an activist and community member, asked us — you know, requested us to say Black Lives Matter. Chris and I both got kind of emotional because Black lives do matter.
And in addition to blue lives and all lives, but because of the history in our country of our treatment — it’s important to recognize and acknowledge their pain.
I think that the people that are — I think it’s important to protest and demonstrate in a peaceful way and not destroy property or harm people.
Some of the media is saying, you know, if Democrats are in charge this is what’s going to happen. This is going to be anarchy. Chris and I don’t believe in anarchy. We believe there are positive ways to create change that we can communicate, that we can build bridges, that we can come together and solve problems.
We’re smart, we can do that. And we believe in Utah. We have the capability in Utah and I think we can do better.
We’ve discussed also with other law enforcement officers like, there should be alternatives to deadly force, sharing information about officers who transfer so that if they are doing certain things in one department and then they go to another city that should be on their record. For some reason, that hasn’t been the standard procedure.
And another one is just reprimanding police officers or giving them extra training. I think that we need to have additional funding for mental health and addiction treatment — and the police and law enforcement are expected to handle too much.
They shouldn’t be expected to be social workers. I mean, a lot of the calls that they get are mental health calls. That is a sad reflection of our society and the way that our budgets have been structured.
We need to put money into people, individuals, into building people, and investing in people. Just as I talked about in education, we need to invest in people with healthcare, mental health funding. So I think all those things are important.
I think that we can come to some good solutions in Utah and communicate and build bridges so we can get the best out when it comes to police reform and community relationships.
CP: I agree. You know, Cami, can I mention one more thing, too, that Karina reminds me of? I’ve had some people say — hear that people say that all the Democrats want to do is defund the police. Maybe some do, I don’t know.
I go to a lot of meetings with a lot of Democrats and I haven’t heard anybody really saying that. And ironically, there was a great program that Sen. Maine, the senator minority leader — the highest ranking senator in the state legislature — great person, she represents West Valley City, over in the west side where I grew up.
She sponsored a bill that provided some tuition assistance for active police officers to get additional higher education training. So things like that social work degree, or a degree in sociology or criminology — a degree that would help them improve and do better in their jobs which is exactly the kind of thing that I think is a step forward to try and make sure that the police have the training, support and the resources we need to do what we want them to do. Which is to protect and serve the entire community, including especially our Black and brown brothers and sisters.
Well, it wasn’t the Democrats that defunded that.
That was in place for a little while, but quietly the Republican-led legislature came and unfunded that tuition assistance. And now the police don’t have that opportunity.
I think that’s such a tragedy, that’s a great example of the different approach I would want to have. I want to make sure we’re getting more access to higher education and I want to make sure that the police officers have the best opportunities to get trained to deal with the complicated range of emotional, social, racial, mental health issues that they have to face in their jobs. I want to make sure we invest in the resources to get that job done.
It wasn’t the Democrats that walked back from that.
COVID-19 STATE RESPONSE
CM: Finally, my last issue that I have here — and you talked about it a little bit earlier — but, you have been a bit critical of the coronavirus response in Utah from state leaders.
So I would just love to hear what you would do differently and, if you were elected, what you would enact as governor to help with this pandemic?
CP: I have been and I think that I’m right about that. I want to emphasize again, it’s not personal. I’m not trying to politicize anything.
I respect Gov. Herbert and I respect Lt. Gov Cox. Good men. They work hard, they’re civil servants and I’m grateful for their work.
With that being said, I don’t believe we’re getting the job done. We have been a bit too hesitant in the way that we rolled out some of the protections to try and limit the spread of the virus.
First off, we spent a bunch of money and time on some fake medicine that there’s no scientific evidence that it helps, and it actually may, in fact, increase people’s risk of death of heart disease. That’s not an appropriate thing to do.
We also went down some rabbit holes and some cell phone contact tracing application software where we spent millions of dollars on a cellphone app that never has worked and never got the job done. That’s not what we want to spend our tax dollars on.
Even at a more fundamental level we have not been willing to do the leadership necessary to get the public to believe we’ve got to start putting masks on.
I’ve called for a statewide mask requirement. Now, there are some reasonable exceptions. Nobody’s suggesting that two-year-old babies and toddlers have to wear masks, they’re not capable of it.
If you’re working with machinery, your job and you get caught with a mask on — that’s an exception. I’ve come up with a list with about eight or nine different exceptions. But I think it’s not too much for us to ask that we have a temporary requirement that when you’re in public and when socially distancing is not feasible — no one’s suggesting if you’re out on a farm in the middle of ten acres and there’s no one around that you have to wear a mask.
No one is suggesting that, I’m certainly not. But if you’re going to be in a situation indoors or out-of-doors where you can’t maintain distance with each other and there’s a chance you could be spreading the virus to someone else, or they could be spreading it to you, then we need to wear masks.
Thirty states have that kind of requirement and most of the countries around the world that have been more successful at flattening their curve and bringing the spread of the virus under control have also had a similar requirement.
That’s where it starts, but I also think we need to have more resources and faster processing times for coronavirus testing. I just was on one of the testing center websites and found that one of the tests they’re still taking five days to get the results back to the people who were tested.
That’s too long.
People need to know right away whether they may be at risk, whether they need to contact others they may have infected, whether or not they can go to school or work. They need to have that information much, much faster.
And we need to invest in resources on an emergency basis to get that done. We also don’t have enough contact tracers, the technology I already mentioned is not working appropriately.
And frankly, I’m very concerned that we don’t have an adequate plan in place to make sure that kids, teachers and staff in our public schools are going to be safe when in a couple of weeks it’s going to be time to go back to school.
I’m worried that our public school system is going to become “super spreader sites.” Where we could infect hundreds of people. Whether it’s a child or staff member or a teacher may not know they’re infected could spread it all across the school, and I’m not convinced we actually have the resources, the protective equipment in place to do this in a safe way.
They need to act more decisively, we’ve got to get these numbers down. It’s not about politics, this is a natural disaster. When I called for a mask mandate, I went downtown along State Street and — you’re too young for this — I remember in 1983 — I’m dating myself — but there was an enormous snowfall that year.
All of the mountains had record snowfall and when the snow started to melt, it all started rushing down and it became clear that the creek that comes out of City Creek Canyon was going to flood the downtown area.
Some of the cultural institutions, and the downtown business districts that are banks and financial institutions and law firms and some manufacturing facilities — all of that was going underwater.
So, the governor of the state, the mayor — they got together and they helped organize an emergency effort. The governor, by the way was Scott Matheson Sr., a Democrat — and they got together and they used sandbags to build a river right down State Street right under the Eagle Gate in the heart of downtown to divert all that water and save the city.
And at that time, no one was making a political thing about it, no one was saying, “Well sandbags don’t work.”
Look, masks are — just as sandbags are a simple technology that can control a torrent of water, masks are the same kind of thing as the natural disaster that we’re facing right now.
They’re not perfect, but they can manage to prevent the spread of a lot of disease. And that’s the kind of simple time-tested technology we should be implementing in this state right now.
But our leaders aren’t doing it, some of the hospitals, the Chamber of Commerce and a lot of people in faith communities are calling for that. We need that leadership, it’s time for a statewide mask requirement. I’m hoping the governors can do that in the next few days.
KB: Well I should add, too, the Salt Lake Chamber had issued a statement that the businesses can’t enforce a mandate within their stories unless the governor issues a mask mandate, so that’s one of the things that really stuck with me when it comes to the mask mandate.
I also wanted to bring up the fact that there was a Salt Lake Tribune article June 8 of this year, that the director of public health lab was, it was reported she was stripped of her position because she was unwilling to send coronavirus test samples to the Test Utah’s hospital lab because it wasn’t in compliance with federal certification guidelines.
And so that is in a Salt Lake Tribune article. To me, that is astounding that that happened in Utah. Someone that’s doing their job, a professional — public health professional stripped of her position because she wouldn’t send the test samples to Test Utah.
Which Test Utah, that was something that was created during the course of the pandemic to help out, but it wasn’t in compliance.
COLLEGE STUDENTS MUST VOTE TO CHANGE THE WORLD
CM: Just as a final closing statement, just kind of wrapping up your campaign as a whole and then also maybe a reason or two why college students should vote in this election and include their voice, when typically college students are can be known for skipping out on things like this.
KB: I’m counting on you to change the world (laughs) I’m excited because I can see things that happen when people come together to create change.
I can see it. It doesn’t take that many people to really change the world, to make a difference. I admire young people’s excitement and concern for different issues.
And I think that when you take your concern and your values and take them to the ballot box or to the vote-by-mail ballot — our world will change. I’m just counting on it, so that’s my perspective. I love young people of the world [and] of Utah and I look forward to seeing where your ideals will lead us.
CP: Well thank you Karina, and thank you Cami. It’s been great visiting with you. I believe in students.
I mean, I’ve spent most of my career teaching and trying to mentor students to try and launch their careers as attorneys. But I do believe that this election is a special election and I know it’s hard for a university student that’s only been voting for maybe just the first time or the second time they’ve had a chance to vote.
To put it in perspective, America’s not always like this. We don’t always have mass protests in the streets of our cities, we don’t have a shocking collapse of our economy and widespread discontent.
And frankly, we’ve never had leadership that, in my view, is corrupt and is unstable as the leadership we have in the White House right now.
I think we have an important decision to make about whether or not we’re going to stay going down this path, which is a dangerous path. All empires, all civilizations go through massive change. American is on the precipice of deciding something about who we are as a country.
Is it going to be more of this, more of this chaos and vitriol and division? Failing to grapple with our most basic challenges? Or are we going to try and right the ship?
Get back to believe in facts and finding the truth and evidence-based decision making? Civility and bipartisanship and expertise? Taking care of one another and our neighbors.
Those are two different paths and we have a choice to make.
But it’s not just about the voting. That’s where it finishes, but before then we need volunteers. We need financial contributions. We need people to rise up because elections don’t just win themselves.
People always talk about, “Well, can you win this election?” Well, I don’t know. But if I do, it’s not going to be just about me.
It’s going to be about whether or not a movement rises up. I’m doing what I can and I’m hoping that I’m talented enough and decent enough to inspire that. But it’s really has much more to do with society and the people as a whole.
That comes — a decision that’s in each of our hearts. Whether or not you and your listeners can go home and look in the mirror and say to yourselves, “In this pivotal time of our history, did I do what I can?
Did I do what I could do to try and make this world a better place?” That’s why I ran for governor.
When they asked me to run, I laughed at them and didn’t think — “Nah, come one someone else needs to do that. Really? You really want me to do this?”
I looked in the mirror and I thought, you know what? If I win, great. I’ll do the best I can. If I lose, at least I’ll be able to tell my children and my grandchildren and look my students in the eye and say, “I fought. I did what I could to make a difference in this world.”
And that’s what I need from you, Cami, and that’s what I need from your listeners. I hope you will join us, I hope you will push.
Whether that’s in our campaign or whatever campaign you choose to invest your time in — I hope you’ll join us, because it’s not time to sit on the sidelines. We need to act now.
CM: Thank you guys so much for joining me today, I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to us. Best of luck with your campaign and thank you very much.
CP: All right, thank you Cami.