Gubernatorial candidates debate at tech summit

Jan 31, 2020, 1:36 PM | Updated: Jun 24, 2020, 3:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — For the first time, all six gubernatorial candidates took the stage together for a debate Friday.

The group took front stage at the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center where the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit is taking place this week.

Meet the field

The gubernatorial candidates include:

  • Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr.
  • Current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox
  • Ex-Republican Party Chair Thomas Wright
  • Businessman Jeff Burningham
  • Salt Lake County Council member Aimee Winder Newton
  • Ex-House Speaker Greg Hughes.

Candidate Thomas Wright spent time summing up the importance of the upcoming November election.

“The next 10 years will determine the next 50 to 100 [years],” says Wright. “There are so many pressing issues that we have to tackle.”

One of the major issues the candidates focused on was education. Former-governor Jon Huntsman Jr. was asked about his goals if elected.

“This will be my approach and it will be my mantra: individualized education for kids,” says Huntsman Jr. “Anything we can do that will help individualize education in the classroom.”

Specifically, he says a talented teacher directing students with access to tablets is the direction things are going. As a father of seven, he noted that all kids learn differently and our education system needs to reflect that.

Talking tech

On the topic of technology and social media, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox shared the reasoning behind his active Twitter habits.

“I get to have a town hall everyday, I get to listen to people and I get to share our message,” explains Cox. “That matters in this day and age.”

When asked about the political climate in Washington D.C., none of the candidates said they wouldn’t support President Trump’s bid for re-election. Jon Huntsman Jr. is coming off a job nominated by the President and was profusive in his praise.

“What he has done, is create an economic dynamo for this country,” he says.

He was less enthusiastic about the Senate impeachment trial, referring to D.C. as a “circus.”

A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows Huntsman Jr. and Cox leading the rest of the field by a wide margin.

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Gubernatorial candidates debate at tech summit