Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Democrat Chris Peterson, a University of Utah law professor, are vying for the first open seat for Governor since 2004. The state’s coronavirus pandemic response has been a centerpiece of the race. Peterson has criticized Cox for not doing enough to protect people’s health, but Cox has defended the state’s “balanced approach.”
For this guide, Chris Peterson responded to KUER’s candidate survey and an interview request. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox did not respond to the survey but did do an interview with the station. The information below is based on the survey, interviews with both candidates, KUER’s past reporting and publicly available campaign information.
Affordable Housing And Homelessness
Wants to create more affordable housing through incentive programs and helping localities change zoning laws. Says “the lack of affordable health care paired with a low minimum wage” puts people at risk of homelessness. Supports a "housing first" model that includes mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Would invest in infrastructure in areas before they become more densely populated and put more dense housing around mass transit hubs. Wants to reduce government regulation to incentivize more construction. Wants to invest more into permanent supportive housing.
Thinks that the state taking control of the land sets a dangerous precedent. Supports state and local governments working together to use renewable energy and invest in cleaner transportation.
Supports the Inland Port, saying it can help strengthen supply chains and create jobs. Says he is working with the Inland Port Authority to limit emissions, including boosting the capacity for trains to access the port.
State Pandemic Response
Supports a statewide mask mandate, increasing number of contact tracers and decreasing the time it takes to get COVID-19 test results.
Says he wants to ensure the state can distribute a vaccine and medication to those most in need, build trust for a vaccine through transparency and continue to improve coordination. Does not support a statewide mask mandate.
Supports de-escalation policies and training, increased mental health resources for law enforcement officers, tracking police misconduct and community involvement in prosecutorial decisions. Does not support defunding the police.
Points to Utah being one of the first states to ban chokeholds. Supports conflict de-escalation policies, increased transparency in misconduct cases and more training. Does not support defunding the police.
Supports a progressive tax system, where the wealthy pay a higher percentage than low-income Utahns. Wants to re-examine tax incentives and loopholes.
Says tax reform is not needed if Amendment G passes in November. Amendment G allows education funding to be used for programs that benefit children or people with disabilities, in exchange for an education stabilization fund. If it does not pass, says it’s time to go back to the drawing board.