Guest opinion: Cheryl Butler has vital skills to offer state Legislature |

Guest opinion: Cheryl Butler has vital skills to offer state Legislature

If the sun is up, it is likely that Utah House District 53 candidate Cheryl Butler is knocking on doors or hosting small outdoor events in every corner of her district.

State House District 53 is arguably one of the most diverse, illogically gerrymandered political jurisdictions in the state. Its representative has constituents in five counties, four cities, 10 towns, seven school districts and numerous unincorporated areas including (in Summit County alone) Echo, Hoytsville, Marion, Peoa, Samak, Silver Summit, Snyderville, Summit Park, Wanship and Woodland.

Over the last three months, Cheryl Butler has been meeting face-to-face with residents in all of them.

In addition to her stamina and unflagging optimism on the campaign trail, Butler has been busy helping Utah’s 40 individual Rotary Clubs coordinate their charitable efforts in communities affected by the pandemic. Notably, this spring, she helped spearhead a food and household supply drive for the Navajo Nation where COVID-19 was having a devastating impact. She has also been active on the board of directors for Summit and Wasatch County’s Habitat for Humanity chapter that is providing critical services amid the area’s growing affordable housing crisis.

Her devotion to underserved populations throughout the state and her unhesitating willingness to pitch in during the pandemic is proof of her eligibility to serve as our representative in the Legislature.

Additionally, Butler offers skills honed over a 30-year career as an engineer and senior manager in the energy field where she gained experience working in diverse cultures around the world. That background would add much-needed professional and global perspective to the Legislature.

By design, Utah’s Legislature is made up of part-time elected representatives and senators who have other jobs to do when the Legislature is not in session. The intent is to ensure representatives come from all walks of life. But it also means that most have little experience running an organization with a $20.3 billion budget and the responsibility to enact legislation affecting education, law enforcement, transportation and building and development codes, along with a myriad of potentially controversial social issues.

That is why it is especially important to elect a candidate with proven professional skills and a record of integrity, intelligence and commitment to community.

It is also time to ensure the state’s leadership more accurately reflects its increasingly diverse electorate. While citizens have become more progressive — prodding their representatives to expand health care, redistrict political jurisdictions and protect the environment — the Legislature has become more entrenched on the right.

That disconnect is most apparent in the imbalance of political representation on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City where nearly 80% of all current legislators and the governor are members of the Republican Party. As a Democrat, Butler will help to mitigate that imbalance.

The publicity surrounding the 2020 election has been weighted, almost exclusively toward the presidential election, admittedly a critical choice this year. But, it is just as important to make informed choices about the individual candidates further down the ballot.

The president and Congress may have a megaphone when it comes to setting the overarching national agenda, but state legislators have a lot of discretion in how those policies are translated into local laws. In fact, recent controversies have highlighted the ways Utah state legislators have tried to curb local zoning authority, tamp down environmental efforts and overrule city and county pandemic-related health regulations.

With your support, Cheryl Butler would add a well-informed, science- and community-based voice to the state Legislature.

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