Photo by Michelle Rivas

Utah County will almost triple its population and nearly equal Salt Lake County’s population by 2065 according to Andrew Jackson, a member of Mountainland Association of Governments in Utah and panelist on the Utah Trends and Challenges in Local Government panel that was organized by the Political Science Department Oct. 25 in the Classroom Building.   

According to the State of Utah Data 2017 projections, Utah county’s population will be the largest county in the state of Utah by 2065, Jackson explained

“That brings with it growth and jobs, we’ll have more population growth than Salt Lake, Davis and Weber County combined,” Jackson said.

Ernest Istook, lecturer of history and political science who was moderator of the panel, discussed the importance of voting during the offseason for local elections. The Mail-in ballot is projected to have a 30 percent voter turnout, according to Istook.

Four panelists discussed the upcoming Nov. 7 local elections and the challenges of keeping up politically with the multiplicities of cities and population growth.

Luke Peterson, UVU political science professor, discussed urban development and that cities are at the forefront for dealing with complex problems. Certain problems such as crime don’t obey borders necessarily, so counties must work together. In order to solve them, you have to collaborate.

We need more millennials to run for election, according to Genelle Pugmire, news reporter for the Daily Herald. Candidates representing Utah County demographics are changing in terms of culture and family values, said Pugmire

Pugmire stressed the importance for people to vote in their local elections and become involved politically. “It’s about the communities, it’s not about Washington D.C. anymore. Because you have to live within your communities, you have to have infrastructure, you have to have parks, safety, all those things,” Pugmire said.

Howard Stephenson, a state senator representing Utah’s 11th district in Salt Lake County, was introduced as a taxpayer advocate, shared the concerns about where the money goes and how during campaigns the media often get the stories wrong. Stephenson mentioned the get-out-the-vote campaigns and how he isn’t a fan. “I’d rather have a small number of people who are an informed vote than 90 percent of the people’s vote.

Stephenson talked about the need to pay teachers more and said that he proposed the idea of a starting salary of 70,000 for math teachers for example.

Ryanna Stevens, a freshman family studies major, said that she doesn’t see younger representatives who hold more liberal views being elected locally anytime soon. “The population in Utah and specifically Utah County, is a truly Republican voting group. A more liberal candidate would not fulfill the same beliefs as many citizens in this county… I think this new perspective would benefit our county, however; I do not see the odds in the candidate’s favor.”

Stevens also said that voting is a way for your voice to be heard and that most people don’t vote locally because they’re uninformed and that more resources to learn about the candidates should be offered.