It’s easy to forget that on November 8, Utahns will be casting their vote for more than just our next president. The race for Utah’s next governor is well underway, with incumbent Republican governor Gary Herbert defending his position against Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz.
Weinholtz was a third-generation factory worker, who worked full time while attending night classes. He graduated with degrees in both business administration and management. In 1998 he became president of CHG Healthcare Services, and served as CEO until 2015.
According to his campaign website, Weinholtz was motivated to get involved in politics after witnessing the rampant polarization and partisanship in Utah’s government. He sees the current one-party system that governs Utah as problematic, as it stifles meaningful debate on important issues that face all Utahns, not just members of the Republican party.
Weinholtz believes that Utah’s Medicaid expansion was not only fiscally irresponsible, but also leaves 90,000 Utahns in the coverage gap—where they make too much to be covered by Medicaid but too little to afford healthcare. He also wants to improve coverage for mental health issues, which should be a high priority in Utah given the high rates of suicide and substance abuse. He also wants to create wellness programs for workers that encourage them to exercise and eat healthier.
Weinholtz has placed a large emphasis on Utah’s struggling public education system. He is proposing a small tax increase to increase funding for K-12 education, which is something that most Utahns support. His proposals will supposedly add one billion dollars of additional funding for the primary and secondary education system.
Weinholtz claims that Utah’s Division of Air Quality is constantly having its hands tied by our current governor, who Weinholtz claims has been prohibiting certain regulations and consistently underfunding the DAQ. He wants to work with the energy industry to improve air quality while helping to protect jobs, something that Governor Herbert has been hesitant to do. Weinholtz also wants to focus on improving Utah’s public transportation infrastructure in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Some of his proposals include wanting to improve UTA funding to create better parking at TRAX stops, increase bus frequency on popular routes and to offer free fare on red air days.
One of the most important issues to Utahns is undoubtedly preserving the great outdoors. 23 million tourists visit Utah each year, yet the current administration plans to spend up to $14 million to sue the federal government in order to sell public lands to special interest groups. Weinholtz wants to stop these kind of frivolous lawsuits and instead reinvest that money back into Utah. He also wants to provide protections for our public lands so that future generations of Utahns will be able to enjoy our beautiful state.