Utah’s Greatness Lies in the Strength of its People
Since announcing my candidacy for governor, my wife Abby and I have visited 198 of Utah’s 248 cities and towns — only 50 more to go. Along the way, we’ve knocked on dozens of doors, joined more than 40 community service projects and met with thousands of Utahns from Snowville to Monticello.
In my travels, I’ve seen Utahns interact with their neighbors, families and friends. Their examples of service and sacrifice impress and inspire. These examples also remind me that government alone can’t solve many of our problems, but strong communities working together can. Utah’s greatness lies not in its government but in the strength and character of its people.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting every corner of the state this year, especially as it’s given me the chance to introduce myself to many new friends.
I tell them that I’m a lifelong Utahn. I was born here, and besides graduate school and a foreign mission, have never left. I’m raising my kids on the farm my great-great-great grandfather settled more than 160 years ago. Everything I need in a home, a career and a community is all here. That’s why, if I am fortunate enough to be elected governor, I pledge to complete any term to which I am elected and run for no more than two terms. This campaign is neither a stepping stone, nor is it laying the groundwork for a bigger job.
I tell them I’m a lifelong Republican. I stand by the core Republican principles of strong families, fiscal responsibility, federalism, the sanctity of life, self-reliance, compassion and limited government. While every party has its challenges, I am proud of the core tenets of my party and believe our country is best served when we adhere to its founding values.
I share my passion for business. While many know of my service on the city council and as mayor, county commissioner, state legislator and lieutenant governor, it is less known that the Cox family has operated a telecommunications company for more than 100 years in Sanpete County. Like any business, we’ve adapted with technology and now install fiber optics for Utah’s most successful tech companies. As governor, I’ll make sure Utah continues to be the “Startup State” with low taxes, fewer regulations and minimal government intervention.
In each town, I’m also asked, “Why are you running?”
First and foremost, I’m running to transform Utah’s education system. Our current approach leaves too many kids behind and often emphasizes the wrong outcomes. We have a persistent teacher shortage and our under-compensated educators are constrained by excessive mandates, assessments and antiquated approaches that prevent them from connecting with students. When teachers lose the joy of teaching, students lose the joy of learning. Much of the fault lies with our own state policies that prioritize test scores over students.
Additionally, no one is held accountable for our state’s education successes or failures. Utah needs a governor who can act as a bold CEO — Chief Education Officer — who will be held accountable and knows how to advance the systemic reforms our schools need. We must continue the vision to make Utah’s education system the best in the nation. That’s exactly what I intend to do.
I’m running because I want to upgrade and consolidate our government. Utah’s state government is an $18 billion enterprise, and like any large organization, it needs constant scrutiny to stay lean and focused. Gov. Herbert and I have made state government more efficient and saved Utah taxpayers more than $2 billion by reducing the number of state employees from one state employee per 127 residents to one employee per 154 residents. This is only the beginning, and a new administration is the perfect time to make government even more streamlined and modern.
I’m running because I want to give rural Utahns the voice they deserve. During my time as lieutenant governor, we created the Rural Online Initiative, a way to move more employment opportunities to rural Utah. Not only has this decreased congestion along the Wasatch Front and saved taxpayer dollars, it allows locals to remain in their remote communities with good-paying careers. A Cox administration will represent all 29 counties and make certain rural Utah is not forgotten.
And finally, I’m running because politics is fundamentally broken in our country. It has become a competition to tear people down instead of a competition of ideas and bringing people together. Our willingness to help our neighbors and desire to collaborate to solve problems makes us unique in this increasingly toxic environment of tribalism. I’ve seen it growing up in Fairview and in every town we’ve visited this year.
Utah has the potential to show the rest of the country how to treat one another, reach consensus on difficult issues and build thriving communities. I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance I’ve had to serve Utah, and — with your help — we can do even more.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox is a Republican gubernatorial candidate.