Debate this: The Utah Governor’s Debate

Utah Gubernatorial Debate



What are Democrats saying?

The debate on Monday night between Governor Gary Herbert and Mike Weinholtz was lively and opened up many topics of discussion, with most of them coming from USU students themselves. As a 26 year politician, it was clear that Gov. Herbert (R) had the advantage in presentation and had better debate skills in general. However, Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz came out hard on the attack, and was able to touch on a lot of the frustrations that Utahns have with the direction of the state.

While the candidates found some common ground when it came to certain topics (such as medical marijuana), there were stark differences on most of the issues debated. They discussed education, where Weinholtz pointed out that Utah is dead last in spending per pupil. When Herbert claimed that education is his “number one priority,” the Democrat told him to “put his money where his mouth is,” which drew a reaction from the audience. Another big topic of discussion was the Governor’s decision to reject the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. This is a very interesting topic to discuss, as the Governor and the ultra-conservative state legislature have essentially wasted Utah taxpayer money. Weinholtz came out hard on this issue, declaring the governor’s decision to be “morally bankrupt.” They decided not to use the money that already came out of federal taxes; money that could have been used for insuring thousands of struggling Utahns. He stated that Utah decided to not take the money ($1.8 billion) because it came from President Obama’s plan. This is something Weinholtz rightly brought up during the debate- putting party over country, a constant theme within the Herbert administration.

The most interesting part of the night came when the two candidates were asked which presidential candidate they planned on voting for. Both candidates timidly acknowledged that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are extremely unpopular in Utah (Both are polling under 40%). While Herbert endorsed Trump, Weinholtz stated he was voting for Hillary Clinton, and viscously attacked Donald Trump. He said Trump “does not have the temperament” to be President, and called him unfit for the oval office. This was met with loud applause from the crowd, the only time in which that happened during the debate. While the moderator reminded the audience to not applaud, it sure was a very positive highlight for the Weinholtz campaign.

While the debate itself was fairly even, with solid points made on both sides, Weinholtz seemed to have the edge. He did an excellent job on touching on the shortcomings of the Herbert administration, such as the poor quality of air in Utah, the overcrowded and struggling public school system, and lack of health insurance coverage in the state. He called out Herbert and the Republicans’ lack of being in touch with middle class and poor people, and proclaimed that he will govern Utah in a way that works for everyone, not just the well-off. With little previous debate experience, Mike Weinholtz came out on the attack Monday night, and it payed off for him.

Samuel Jackson is a sophomore at USU and he is studying Political Science. He is currently a member of the Government Relations Council, and the Vice President of the USU College Democrats. Also, he is a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

What are Republicans saying?

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”-Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” -John Quincy Adams.

There are two major flaws that the American people possess around election time. Number one, not caring enough to seek out unbiased education, and number two, not taking the time to go out and vote. Yesterday here at Utah State we had the privilege of having the Gubernatorial debate held at our very own Caine Performance Hall where we heard Governor Gary Herbert and his opponent Mike Weinholtz discuss their views on how to make Utah a better place. As this was my first opportunity to attend such an event I went in taking away all prior bias and used this experience to truly learn up on our two candidates and figure out whom I will be voting to be our wonderful state’s governor for the next four years. Both candidates provided their input on what needs to be done but for me one stood out far more than the other.

For starters I was greatly disappointed that Mike Weinholtz opened the debate with bashing Gary Herbert and telling us not to buy into his stats and facts that he brings up. He seemed more interested in getting us to not vote for Herbert instead of persuading us to reason with voting for him. On the other hand Herbert did provide statistics and facts that have shown what improvements have been made since he has been Governor and laid out his plans for the future. The focus he has had the past seven years has been to improve our economy first because when you have a well oiled economy a ripple effect happens and subsequently there are more jobs available, schools will have more funding, and there will be less government debt. This has been proven to work already in Utah as graduation rates have gone up 10% as a whole and minority graduation rates are up 7%.

Weinholtz brought up every hole and everything that needs fixed within our state and did not provide clear solutions. Of course there is always need to improve. No one is perfect and nothing is ever going to be 100%, but when 80% of Utahns are happy with the direction the state is headed you cannot argue the current system is broken. If the current trends keep up for the next four years then graduation rates will be up even higher, and unemployment will drop below the already low 3.7% that is held here in Utah. The more we can fix the economy around us the happier we will be as Utah citizens.

Colton Brown developed a love for politics throughout his many times watching and analyzing every aspect of the TV Series Avatar:The Last Airbender and it’s sequel series The Legend of Korra.

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