The seat for Utah’s 1st Congressional District hasn’t been open for almost 20 years. But Republican Representative Rob Bishop isn’t seeking another term, so the race is anyone’s game. There are two Democrats in a primary for the district, but the seat is ranked solidly Republican. Four candidates are vying for the GOP’s nomination.
Kerry Gibson is easy to identify out of the four Republican candidates for the 1st Congressional District — he’s the one often wearing the big cowboy hat.
He said he’s proud of his background as a fifth-generation dairy farmer. He’s also served as the Utah Commissioner of Agriculture, a position he resigned from to run for Congress. Before that, he was the deputy director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources and a Weber County commissioner.
But Gibson said the experience that sets him apart from the other candidates is his work in the state Legislature.
“Congress is a challenging job,” Gibson said. “There’s a lot going on and having been in a legislative body and been successful in it I think helps me to be more prepared.”
Hill Air Force Base has a big presence in the 1st District. Nearly 30,000 people work there, and it has a 3.7 billion dollar economic impact in the state. One of Gibson’s goals is to position the base for more federal opportunities and to connect with more public-private partnerships.
“If you neglect anything long enough, someone else will try to take it from you,” Gibson said. “There are people who recognize the economic value of this great asset in our community.”
Another area of focus for Gibson is local food production. As the former head of the state’s department of agriculture, Gibson said the pandemic has made it clear Utah needs to shore up its food production system.
“Any time food can travel a shorter distance from producer to consumer, that’s a good thing,” Gibson said. “Certainly, when it becomes a state or national security issue.”
Gibson said he appreciates and respects Bishop for his time in office. But he said he’ll take a different approach than Bishop, like by bringing people together across the political aisle.
“I have a strong record of not only standing by my conservative principles, but helping others to understand them,” Gibson said. “And, frankly, being open enough to understand their concerns when they come forward.”
To learn more about Gibson’s positions — and to compare them to his three Republican opponents — check out KUER’s voter guide.