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'Big, Systemic Change': Presidential Hopeful Elizabeth Warren Visits Utah

Lee Hale

Elizabeth Warren remembers her mother pacing back and forth in her room, her nicest dress laid out on the bed, muttering “We will not lose this house.”

Her father had recently suffered a heart attack that left him unable to work, and the family had already lost their car. Her mother was 50 years old and had never worked outside the home.


Finally, “She pulled on the dress, put on her high heels and she walked into Sears and got a minimum wage job answering phones. That minimum wage job saved our house and it saved our family,” the Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate told a crowd of more than 1,000 in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday night.


Warren said that when she was a girl, a full-time minimum wage job like the one her mother took could support a family of three.


“Today in America, a full-time minimum wage job will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty,” she said. “That is wrong, and that is why I am in this fight.”


“We need big, systemic change in this country,” Warren said. “And I got a plan.”

The Massachusetts senator is one of 18 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to challenge Trump in 2020. She is also the second Democratic candidate to visit deep-red Utah this year—former Housing Secretary Julian Castro campaigned in the beehive state in February.

In a half-hour stump speech followed by a question-and-answer session at The Depot, Warren outlined a broad plan to narrow the wage gap and bring “big, systemic change” to end government corruption. Her plan includes a 2 percent “wealth tax” for families with assets worth more than $50 million, ethics and financial disclosures for Supreme Court justices and lobbying reforms in Washington.

Credit Nicole Nixon / KUER

About 2,000 people turned out to hear the Democratic candidate speak, but when the venue reached capacity some were put into an overflow room, while nearly 500 more people waited outside.


Before Warren took the stage, Salt Lake City resident Josh Petersen said while he hasn’t settled on a candidate to support yet—nearly a full year before Utah’s presidential primary—Warren is near the top of his list.


“I really support her message,” Petersen said. “I think that more than any other Democrat

in the race right now, she has really concrete policy ideas.”


“I thought her plan tobreak up the big tech companies was really smart and really something no one else was talking about. It’s something—even in Democratic circles—that’s not really addressed,” he said.


Before her Utah rally, Warren visited Big Cottonwood Canyon to tour canyon sites and learn about pressures the area faces under increased traffic and usage.\




Ahead of campaign stops in Colorado and Utah this week, Warren unveiled a public lands plan that includes restoring protections to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, which President Donald Trump drastically shrunk during a Utah visit in December 2017.


As people around the country and world talk about the urgency of climate change, Warren said it’s important to her to also “talk about the importance of our national forests and our national parks and our national lands. Yes, I stand with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante!” she said to applause.


If elected president, Warren also pledged a moratorium on all new oil and gas drilling leases—both offshore and on public lands.


Her plan, published Monday on, also includes ending visitor fees at National Parks and funding a multi-billion-dollar maintenance backlog on public lands.


Warren’s proposals and “regard for the little people” resonated with Kathy Goodfellow of Centerville, who said she wants a Democratic presidential candidate who will address problems with facts and science instead of emotion.


“I’ve kind of been on the fence as far as who to support” in the primary, Goodfellow said. “But I’m really just impressed with her energy and her creativity and her passion.”

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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