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Photo courtesy of Jon Huntsman for Governor 2020

Top 3 reasons Jon Huntsman is the clear choice as Utah’s next governor

By Amanda Smith, Former Director Of The Utah Department Of Environmental Quality | Posted - Jun. 25, 2020 at 8:05 a.m.



I have always believed that our elected officials play a critical role in the success of the place, and the joy of the people, that they govern. As we have individually and collectively absorbed so many massive upheavals to our lives, I have been pleased to see the renewed commitment by so many people in electing the best possible person to lead us.

The most stated explanation for this change is something like, "Sure, it probably has always mattered, but NOW it really matters." Indeed. Whoever wins the Utah Republican primary election this month will be our next governor and I am proud to have voted for Governor Jon Huntsman.

I have received so many inquiries about why I chose to support Governor Huntsman that I describe three major reasons why I hope you will do the same.

Trusted leader

Through my career as a public servant and work as the director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, I have counseled hundreds and met with thousands of candidates running for every office imaginable. I have had the privilege of working closely with Governor Huntsman and can honestly say Utah has never had a gubernatorial candidate more uniquely qualified to lead our state than Huntsman.

But don’t just take my word for it. When the stakes are high, as they are now, leaders repeatedly turn to him for solutions.

Huntsman has served in every presidential administration since President Reagan and worked on numerous corporate boards including Ford, Hilton, and Chevron. But it is not just the positions, it is WHEN he takes the lead. The most important and difficult diplomatic post for the United States in 2009, was undoubtedly China.

Accordingly, President Obama reached across the aisle and asked Huntsman to serve his country as ambassador to China. When President Trump came into office, Russian election interference and international confrontations had pushed tensions to a near breaking point between the two countries. Again, Trump turned to Huntsman as ambassador to Russia to lead the United States’ most sensitive diplomatic post.

In short, Huntsman’s previous term as Utah’s governor not only allows him to hit the ground running, but his unparalleled experiences as the leader trusted to handle some of the most challenging circumstances has uniquely prepared him to guide us through our state’s current health and economic crisis.

Double Utah’s economy

Unemployment has skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we need a bold vision to help our state recover in the short term and reach new heights in the years ahead.

We need a leader, not a manager. I have looked through each candidate’s economic plan through the lens of a business leader and mother. As a business leader, I looked for a governor with the necessary experience, vision, and connections to navigate complex global markets and fight for Utah companies in a post-COVID world.

As a business leader and mother, I looked for a plan that would allow my kids the greatest opportunity at finding fulfilling and impactful careers here at home.

Governor Huntsman’s plan is the only one that looks beyond recovery and sets a bold, but achievable, goal to nearly triple the state economy from $180 billion to $500 billion over the next decade. His plan will generate higher-paying jobs, create entrepreneurial opportunities, and help fund critical programs like education and infrastructure while preserving the things, like our great outdoors, that make Utah uniquely wonderful.

That’s exactly what we need to ensure opportunities for our children and grandchildren in Utah.

Mental health

Utahns are ready to get serious about addressing our mental health crisis, but only Huntsman has been a consistent and passionate voice on the issue. The numbers are staggering. Nearly 1 in 3 Utahns suffer from some type of mental health issue, but of those diagnosed less than half receive treatment.

While Utah has one of the highest occurrences of mental health issues, we rank toward the bottom of the states for our access to quality care. That disparity is not acceptable.

From the devastating impacts on individuals and families to the ripple effects in our economy and communities, mental health is a critical component of healthcare that has been left behind. Governor Huntsman has spoken candidly about his family’s experience and the stigma of discussing mental health issues that led to related tragedies.

He has a sound plan and is deeply committed to addressing mental health by empowering patients, incentivizing providers and bringing together partners to ensure any who suffer from this disease can find a pathway forward.

Utah needs a leader who isn’t afraid to set the bar high. Jon Huntsman has a track record of getting big things done. He has said throughout the campaign that, while Utah has long been known as the Crossroads of the West, our goal should be to become the Crossroads of the World. Jon Huntsman is the candidate Utah can trust and the leader who can fulfill that destiny.

Amanda Smith
    Former Director Of The Utah Department Of Environmental Quality

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