Park Record 2018 Voter Guide: U.S. Senate | ParkRecord.com

Park Record 2018 Voter Guide: U.S. Senate

Mitt Romney, left, and Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, right, candidates for the U.S. Senate in Utah. (Park Record composite image)

With Election Day approaching, and mail-in ballots on their way to residents, The Park Record asked candidates to answer a series of questions in their own words in order to help voters make informed decisions. View the answers of candidates in other races here.

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Please describe your background and how it prepares you for the office you seek.

Mitt Romney (Republican): Mitt Romney is uniquely positioned to serve Utah and fight for Utahns. He led the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and, with a team of volunteers and managers, turned the struggling Games into a success story.

In 2012, Romney was the Republican nominee for President of the United States. He was a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and served as the Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 through 2007.

Throughout his career, Mitt has worked with and campaigned for many U.S. Senators and has long-standing relationships that will allow him to get more done for Utah and the country.

Jenny Wilson (Democrat): In 2004, I became the first woman elected to the Salt Lake County Council, where I am currently serving my second, six-year term.

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In Congress, I will prioritize healthcare, compassionate immigration reform, and infrastructure improvements in each corner of our state. I believe that every American family deserves the opportunity to provide their children with an excellent education, the promise of a livable wage, and to live without fear that a pre-existing condition or single hospital visit will bankrupt them.

My Senate office door will be open to Utahns, not lobbyists, and I pledge to hold a free, public, in-person town hall in each of Utah's 29 counties during my first year in office.

I served as the Chief of Staff to Utah's U.S. Congressman Bill Orton and was a senior leader on the Salt Lake Olympic Games staff. I'm a graduate of the University of Utah and hold a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University. I'm the daughter of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson and Kathy Wilson, an artist and small business owner. Together with my husband, I'm raising two teenage sons.

The U.S. and Utah economies continue to perform well a decade after the depths of the recession. Please discuss what you see as the state of the economy and whether you foresee any dangers to economic growth. In your answer, please identify one policy you would propose to further spur the economy and one policy you would oppose out of concern it would damper growth.

Romney: The biggest danger to economic growth is the national debt, which currently stands at $21 trillion. Reducing the burden of our national debt is one way to encourage long-term economic growth.

Mitt supported the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress at the end of 2017, which lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent. Lower taxes help spur the economy by allowing businesses to grow and compete with other businesses for employees – resulting in better jobs and higher wages. As wages increase, tax revenues increase, allowing our country to pay off some of our growing debt.

In addition to increased revenue, Mitt believes cutting back on excessive spending through eliminating unnecessary or outdated programs will help reduce the burden of debt. If programs are deemed necessary, they should be sent back to the states for more localized management.

Wilson: Currently, my biggest economic concerns for Utah families and small businesses are impacts of the recently implemented Trump tariffs and the additional $2 trillion added to our national debt due to the recent GOP-led tax cuts.

The recent tariffs are already hurting us locally. At Salt Lake County, we had to adjust our parks and recreation budget to accommodate a $2 million increase to a $20 million recreation center, due exclusively to steel tariffs. Imagine the detrimental impact to our expanded international airport, new prison, and local efforts at affordable housing options.

I would support a bill that focused tax breaks on working class families and small businesses – the backbone of our economy. However, recent tax cuts focused on the super-wealthy, large corporations, and finance professionals who benefit from loopholes.

The federal government has vast lands across Utah, including significant acreage in Summit County, but crafting management policies has long been a challenging process as Congress weighs the disparate interests such as industry and recreation. Please describe a management plan that you believe would properly balance the various interests and how that plan would address the strains between Washington and local governments. Are there any federal lands in Utah that should be reviewed for tightened or loosened protections?

Romney: Two-thirds of Utah is public land owned and managed by federal agencies based thousands of miles away in Washington. Mitt believes greater local and state involvement in land management will result in better management decisions and less conflict over our public lands.

One area that needs reform is management of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). Those unfamiliar with the issue may believe that Wilderness includes all public lands – this is not the case. Wilderness, designated by Congress, limits access to the land. Only Congress can designate Wilderness, as compared to WSAs, which are assigned by the BLM and are often used as a tactic to usurp Congressional authority. If the BLM is going to continue studying the lands, multiple use must be allowed through the study period. Then, only if Congress – with local input – fulfills their role in formally designating a Wilderness, uses can be limited.

Wilson: Utah's public lands are national treasures and deserve to be protected as such. I oppose the idea of federal lands being managed by the state, and support the original boundary for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Obama-proposed boundary for Bears Ears National Monument.

I favor land preservation and supported Salt Lake County funding that backed the Bonanza Flat purchase. On the Salt Lake County Council I was a leader in forging bi-partisan consensus to create a regional mountain planning commission – the Central Wasatch Commission – that will be in a good position to advocate for transportation solutions for the Wasatch Range and Summit County.

President Trump remains a deeply polarizing figure as he approaches the middle of the term. Supporters are pleased with what they see as a strong economic record and his fulfillment of campaign promises on issues like immigration, but detractors are dismayed by what they consider to be his hubris and erratic political behavior. Please discuss the successes or failures of the Trump administration. Also please identify one of Trump's policies you pledge to support and one you pledge to oppose, and why.

Romney: Mitt will support the President's policies when they are in the best interest of Utah and the nation. The first year of the President's administration has exceeded expectations; he made the corporate tax code globally competitive, worked to reduce unnecessary regulations, and restored multiple use on Utah public land.

Mitt has openly disagreed with certain of the Administration decisions, such as the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Mitt supports open markets for Utah and American goods.

He also opposes broad-based tariffs, such as those on steel and aluminum – particularly when they are imposed on our allies.

He has and will continue to speak out when the President says or does something of significance that is divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.

Wilson: I don’t believe that the current administration is demonstrating moral leadership. Particular to our nation's global standing, President Trump's actions on foreign policy are minimizing our ability to support worldwide stability through diplomacy.

I do support the recently passed Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, a bill which provides critical funding to our communities. It is expected that President Trump will sign this into law. I have worked deliberately and diligently at the local level to address the opioid crisis and am deeply disappointed that Sen. Lee was the only 'no' vote in the U.S. Senate.

Unfortunately, I do not currently see the Trump Administration moving any actions that I would support in Congress.

Immigration reform remains a deeply divisive issue in Washington as Congress attempts to forge policies that provide for the security of the nation and are seen as compassionate at the same time. Please outline an immigration policy that properly weighs the competing interests.

Romney: Our current immigration system is broken and in need of major reforms. Legal immigration is the life-blood of our country and essential to growth. Mitt supports policies that will end illegal immigration, while welcoming legal immigration. He supports stronger protection at our borders, allowing states to determine the number of worker visa needed, and putting in place an effective e-verify system that punishes employers instead of individuals.

DACA recipients should be able to rely on promises made to them by the Obama Administration and remain in the country legally. They should not, however, be given a special pathway to citizenship. All immigrants should have the right to apply for citizenship through the same transparent process.

Wilson: I strongly believe that immigrants make America great, and I am concerned with the anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions we have seen from the Trump Administration since its inception. I cannot fathom the separation of families seeking asylum at our border.

It is critical to the social, economic, and cultural health of our communities – and our national ethos – that we pass comprehensive, family-centered, compassionate immigration reform. To that end, I have been vocal about supporting legal protections and a pathway to citizenship for Utah's DREAMers, a reform of ICE, and border security that employs technology as opposed to a 'wall'.

Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.

Romney: Talk is cheap. Action is essential. Mitt's experience, relationships, and national credibility will allow him to accomplish more for Utah. As a conservative, he will fight to balance the budget and rein in excessive spending, lower the cost of health insurance, fight for better immigration policies, and work to end federal overreach. Mitt promises to serve with honor, integrity, and in a manner that will make Utahns proud.

Wilson: I am a fifth-generation Utahn with a record demonstrating commitment to the state where I raise my family. In my role as a Salt Lake County Council Member At-Large, I work across party lines to forge consensus on policy initiatives that affect of one-third of Utah's population.

Having spent my life serving Utah, I understand the day-to-day challenges facing our state and will continue to be a vocal advocate for working families and addressing income inequality in the U.S. Senate.

It is my firm belief that it's time to replace the 'old-boys-club' in Washington with fresh faces who are in touch with the needs of our communities, and will bring fresh perspectives to policy discussions. I hope to be that voice for Utah.

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According to the Summit County Clerk's Office, ballots for the Nov. 6 election are set to begin arriving by mail on Friday, Oct. 19. Ballots returned through the mail must be postmarked by Nov. 5. Residents can register to vote online or at the Clerk's Office through Oct. 30. Same-day registration will also be available at four voting assistance centers throughout the county on Election Day. Visit http://co.summit.ut.us/281/Voter-Registration-Elections for more information.