Jenny Wilson, Senate candidate, sees ‘chaos and havoc’ in Washington | ParkRecord.com

Jenny Wilson, Senate candidate, sees ‘chaos and havoc’ in Washington

The Democrat wants to claim a seat in upper chamber of Congress in 2018

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

Jenny Wilson, a Democratic member of the Salt Lake County Council, is mounting a campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2018. She is critical of the partisan nature of Washington politics and says she has learned to compromise and court support from across the political aisle.

Jenny Wilson looks at Washington and sees "chaos and havoc."

Wilson, a Democratic member of the Salt Lake County Council who lives in Salt Lake City, wants a role in combating what she describes as dysfunction in the nation's capital. Wilson is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018. The Senate seat on the ballot is now held by longtime Republican Orrin Hatch.

Wilson will be an underdog in a heavily Republican state. If he seeks re-election, Hatch would be campaigning for his eighth term in office. If Hatch does not seek another term, there will likely be a field of well-known Republicans vying for the nomination. Wilson criticized the partisan nature of Washington politics and said Hatch is part of the problem.

"We have fallen away from our traditional methods of governance," Wilson said, adding that she has learned to compromise and court support from across the aisle. "There needs to be a new generation of leaders who are willing to do what I do on a daily basis."

Wilson, 51, has a background in marketing and communications. She was the chief of staff for Congressman Bill Orton, a Utah Democrat, in the 1990s. She said she has worked well with Republicans in Utah. By 2019, when the Senate winner will be seated, Wilson hopes the political scene will have stabilized in Washington. If that is the case, Wilson said, there will be opportunities to build relationships across the aisle.

"Enough is enough," she said about partisanship.

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Wilson said issues centered on growth will be important to her platform, noting the pressures on the state. She pointed to her involvement in the Central Wasatch Commission, which is studying growth in the Wasatch Mountain region, and said she understands the pressures as an elected official on the local level.

"We're sort of at this tipping point," Wilson said.

She wants a federal bill passed that protects certain areas in the Wasatch Mountains. Wilson said it is better to have a Democrat in office to illustrate the bipartisan support such a move would have. Wilson also said developing environmentally friendly transportation for Utahns and visitors is also important. Wilson supported Salt Lake County's financial contribution to the acquisition of Bonanza Flat for conservation purposes.

Wilson, meanwhile, said it would be "unconscionable" for the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some immigrants who arrived illegally as youngsters. She said the move shows the president is "beholden to the rhetoric of the campaign."

"I find it the worst of Donald Trump," she said.

Some of the other issues Wilson will press during the campaign include:

  • the use of opioids, which she sees as a national emergency. Wilson said funding for treatment must be expanded.
  • the economy, which she said is strong in Utah. Wilson, though, said there are places in rural Utah that continue to struggle economically. She said support for rural economies is important and economic diversification is important as well.
  • immigration, which she said should not involve policies that "tear up families." Wilson said she does not support the idea of local law enforcement agencies enforcing federal immigration laws. She said she supports a path to citizenship for productive people who are in the U.S. illegally or who were brought to the country at a young age.