Gubernatorial candidates lay out vision for Utah at town hall meeting

Posted at 5:54 AM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 07:54:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY – With 35 days until Election Day, candidates running for Governor held a town hall, Tuesday, to let voters know where they stand on the issues. At one point, the intimate setting was interrupted by a heckler.

It was the first and only town hall format for the gubernatorial candidates. The moderator asked them prepared questions and then the audience chimed in.

Both candidates took their turn in the hot seat laying out their clear differences in policy and outlook. On the issue of education, Democratic challenger, Mike Weinholtz, said he would support a less than 1 percent tax increase to free up more money for Utah schools.

“I think if we’re going to say education is our top priority, we need to do such,” Weinholtz said.

Incumbent Gary Herbert pointed to his record of investing nearly $2 billion in public and higher education.

“Even though we’re low on the spectrum when it comes to total spending, we’re getting high returns and results, which is the key issue,” the governor said.

When confronted about the Bears Ears monument, where recent polls show Utahns are split, both candidates stood their ground.

“If there weren’t this misinformation campaign out there the poll would read differently,” Weinholtz said.

“I believe emphatically that the designation of the monument using Antiquities Act is not the best way to go about doing it,” Herbert said.

Their stark differences also played out during discussions about Medicaid expansion.

“To turn our backs on these people, I think is morally bankrupt, but it’s also fiscally irresponsible,” Weinholtz said.

“Block back the state’s money and let us address our own unique politics, our unique cultures, our unique demographics,” Herbert said.

While the format didn’t allow for face-to-face talks between the two, one audience member used the forum to interrupt the governor.

“You know what Governor Herbert you broke the law in my case. I’ve sent so many faxes. I’m leaving,” said Springville man Robert Brown.

The heckler was quickly escorted out.

“I’m black and my voice never did get heard at the Governor’s office, never. He did nothing. That’s why I lashed out, out there,” Brown said.

This is most likely the last opportunity for voters to hear from both candidates under the same roof before Election Day.

For information on Gov. Gary Herbert visit:

For information on incumbent Mike Weinholtz visit: