What Utah’s Gen Z leaders are working toward

Jan 26, 2024, 9:30 AM | Updated: 10:42 am

Images from left to right: SLC councilperson Eva Lopez Chavez (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News), Ky...

L-R: SLC councilperson Eva Lopez Chavez (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News), Kyle Friant (photo accessed from X), Rep. Tyler Clancy (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — People in their mid-20s, some of whom are Gen Z, are civic and national leaders in Utah and across the country.

Republican and Democratic members of Gen Z are filling seats in our councils and districts. What do they bring to a growing Utah? What do they bring to a partisan political climate?

“We wanted to make a positive impact”

Gen Z is the first truly “digital” generation, and the exposure afforded to them left a mark.

“I think a lot of the younger generation is super motivated to make a difference in their community,” said 25-year-old Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo. He thinks Gen Z has two defining strengths: passion and engagement.

“A lot of Gen Z grew up in schools and neighborhoods that are diverse,” he said, adding that many young people experienced “interacting and working alongside people from all different walks of life.”

Clancy brings collaboration into his work. When asked to lead a task force aimed at mental health challenges and homelessness, Clancy wanted a politically diverse team.

“We were all here because we wanted to make a positive impact,” Clancy said. “And building on that, we made sure everyone felt comfortable to share their opinion and experience with no judgment. We came out with some pretty good recommendations.”

Issues over identity

Members of Gen Z are aware they’re inheriting some major issues. Utah’s young leaders see collaboration and proactivity as key.

Kyle Friant is also 25 years old. He’s been part of local political campaigns since he was a kid. Currently, he’s the campaign manager for Erin Rider, who’s running for Salt Lake County mayor. Friant leans center-right, but he embraces Gen Z’s political diversity.

He has good memories from his time with former Rep. Becky Edward’s congressional campaign.

“The young people on the campaign, regardless of their political affiliation, were really sick and tired of the partisan bickering that we were seeing,” he said.

He believes young voters have “larger perspectives” that get past bickering.

Personally, Friant said he knows environmental issues often fall outside his party’s interest. But he sees the fallout of poor air quality and a shrinking Great Salt Lake.

“I see that with my conservative hat on, and I say there’s no reason we shouldn’t try to find innovative policy solutions addressing these things.”

Friant knows people will disagree about how that happens, but he enjoys the engagement he’s seen across many campaigns.

“Every time I talk to someone across the political spectrum, I’m encouraged by their thoughtfulness, their willingness to engage, and their genuine kindness.”

But Friant warns Gen Z could endanger this opportunity if they stay in their partisan corners.

Building the community

On the other side of the aisle, Eva Lopez Chavez agrees.

“I would love to put myself in situations where there are differing or diverse ideas being spewed out there,” she said.

She’s a 27-year-old Democrat who sits on the Salt Lake City Council. She’s especially proud of the pioneering culture she’s seen among Gen Z’s downtown scene.

For her, they bring a “conscious movement” to the table.

“In past generations, we see people wanting to work or accept the circumstances of their neighborhood or community,” Chavez said. “Whereas I see Gen Z defining that for themselves.”

She knows many younger people who have started their businesses and then given back to the community.

“We’re also pioneering by creating economic opportunities that didn’t exist before,” she said. “It’s not just becoming a social influencer, but rather educating and creating narratives in a space that didn’t exist for other generations, like our parents’.”

“We care about being thoughtful and educating the public.”

Chavez sees Gen Z’s broad thoughtfulness as their unique contribution. She calls on her own generation’s struggles to address home ownership during central-city councils. She believes the best way to combat misinformation is to engage with people who disagree.

Stopping the stigma

Gen Z is often stigmatized for having a dangerously short attention span. If true, this could make them prone to believe in misinformation. These leaders agree engagement is the solution, and we all need to start in our communities.

“One thing I often ask people is ‘How many close friends do you have who have a strongly different opinion than you?’ Too often, that answer is zero,” she said.

Chavez says anyone can come to city hall and engage in the history of Salt Lake City.

“Meeting them face to face, switching languages, making it family friendly so children can come along,” she said. “Marketing has changed, and so has the education behind participation.”

Meanwhile, Clancy says our communities need young voters’ experiences.

“I think there’s a place for everyone at the table when it comes to decision-making,” Chavez said. “I’d love to see more of our younger generation build that confidence moving forward.”

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

A Utah Judge ruled that the Utah Attorney General’s Office must release his schedule in response ...

Daniella Rivera and Annie Knox

Judge sides with KSL, orders release of Utah attorney general’s calendar

The victory for the news organization is the culmination of a public records fight that dragged on for more than a year.

13 hours ago

Pro-Palestine rally
Caption:	Supporters of the campaign to vote "Uncommitted" hold a rally in suppo...

Gregory Krieg and Eric Bradner, CNN

What to watch for in the Michigan presidential primaries

The Michigan primary takes place on Tuesday Feb. 27, 2024. President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump are expected to win.

20 hours ago

FILE: Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, and Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-South Jordan, speak about their...

Aimee Cobabe

Bill allowing parents to sue social media companies moves closer to becoming law

HB464 gives Utah parents the power to sue a social media company if their child develops mental health issues after using the apps

1 day ago

FILE: An Angel bike given to the family of Eli Mitchell in April, 2023. Mitchell was hit and killed...

Britt Johnson

Families of drunk driving victims fight possible new Utah liquor license legislation

The bill sponsored by Rep. Jefferson Burton would increase the number of liquor licenses issued by the state of Utah.

1 day ago

Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Logan, was transported in an ambulance after an apparent medical issue in the H...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko

Utah representative transported in ambulance after apparent medical issue on House floor

Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Logan, was seated at his desk shortly after lawmakers convened for an afternoon session at 2 p.m. when the incident occurred.

2 days ago

utah lake shown, a bill tackling a failed lake project has advanced...

Adam Small

A bill to undo law regarding controversial, failed Utah Lake project advances to the full House

The law that would be repealed through this bill is the same law that created the Utah Lake Restoration Act.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

What Utah’s Gen Z leaders are working toward