SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton is running for governor.
The Republican announced her bid for the state’s top office with a Twitter video and press release Wednesday morning. She joins current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and businessman Jeff Burningham on the Republican side of the 2020 race.
“Utah is at a pivotal moment. Our tremendous economic growth puts us in a position of envy for the rest of the country,” Winder Newton said in the press release. “As governor, I will work hard to serve the people of Utah. I’m not running to be someone, I’m running to do something.”
Winder Newton is the first female Republican to enter a Utah gubernatorial race since former Gov. Olene Walker's 2004 campaign.
Winder Newton has served on the Salt Lake County Council since 2014 and was elected as the first female chair of the body in 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and lives in Taylorsville with Matt, her husband of 26 years, and their four kids, according to the video.
In her video, she lists her resume of government and leadership experience, including her time as a county councilwoman and her role in helping to incorporate the City of Taylorsville in 1996.
"Leadership is best witnessed in its actions," she said, "and I've spent my life-solving problems."
She touted the work she was able to do on the County Council as one of five Republicans and four Democrats. Winder Newton said she worked "shoulder-to-shoulder" with the other members of the council to balance the county's $1.2 billion budget — the state's second-largest.
She's also worked to reform the criminal justice system, make government more open and transparent and break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, her video states.
"The work isn't always pretty," she says in the video. "Sometimes it takes blood, sweat, and a minivan full of gas."
Winder Newton said the top issues she'll look at as governor include education and workforce matters, as well as growth topics such as air quality, housing affordability and transportation.
Her website states she opposes "any efforts to usurp local control" on education. She also supports the rights of parents to choose the best educational situation for their children, whether that be a public, charter, private or home school, according to the website.
Utah has been referred to as the best state for business, Winder Newton’s website states, but it adds that it’s also time for it to be known as a great state for workforce. As governor, she would work to elevate workforce talent development so that Utah businesses aren't forced to look for out-of-state recruits when hiring, according to the website.
Winder Newton's growth plan as governor would not just focus on the time during her term — it would address Utah's growth issues for the next 40 years, her website states.
"We will coordinate with legislators, local leaders, and our metropolitan planning organizations to ensure that we are promoting smart growth that balances the character of our communities with new opportunities," the website says.
Decisions on growth issues can "no longer happen in silos," according to her website. Winder Newton doesn't believe high-density housing is the best solution for all communities but believes adequate investment in infrastructure is needed in the state, the website states. But she said Utahns' quality of life should still be preserved while those improvements are made.
Winder Newton's website also promises she will provide a "shift in culture" as governor with regards to using renewable energy sources to better air quality and the environment. She would look at how best to incentivize the use of renewable energy across sectors of Utah's economy including construction, housing, transportation and electricity.
Winder Newton's family is one deeply ingrained with Utah politics and government experience. Her brother Mike Winder currently represents district 30 in the Utah House of Representatives and was previously West Valley City mayor.
Kent and Sherri Winder, parents to Aimee Winder Newton and Mike Winder, were both involved in Taylorsville City government. Mike Winder's wife, Karyn, is currently president of the Granite School District Board of Education.
Kent Winder's cousin, Jim Winder, previously served as Moab Police Chief and Salt Lake County Sheriff.
Other possible Republican contenders for the governor race include former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who most recently served as U.S. ambassador to Russia, as well as former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.
Wednesday, Burningham welcomed Winder Newton to the race, saying competition in the race will lead to better policy solutions.
"We need a robust debate on the issues Utah’s facing, and I believe the more good people who get in the race, the more the best ideas will rise to the top and we’ll all benefit as Utahns," Burningham said in a statement. "I think my record as a job-creating entrepreneur stacks up well against anyone who is looking to get into this race. I extend a warm welcome to Aimee and look forward to seeing her on the campaign trail.”
Cox has not yet publicly commented on Winder Newton's announcement.
Winder Newton wraps up the video by pointing out that Utah is at a pivotal moment as state leaders try to balance the issues she mentioned.
"We can seize it," she said. "We just need someone to get behind the wheel and step on the gas. ... Let's get to work."