In April of 2016, Gary Herbert, the Governor of Utah, made national headlines, and not necessarily in a positive light. He declared porn to be a “health hazard”, and introduced education programs for the state to solve the global dilemma. The issue became a trending topic on Facebook, where the move was ridiculed around the world, and brought about many questions about the governor: Does he have a porn addiction? What type of porn is he into? Is there a looming sex scandal that will engulf him, which has been the fate of many of his fellow Republican comrades? And is it time for a change at the Governors position in the state of Utah?
Herbert began as the Governor of Utah in 2009, after Jon Huntsman was offered to be the ambassador to China by President Obama. He has seen a lot of change occur throughout his term. For one, Utah has become to be recognized as one of the country's hidden gems, as there has been thousands of job opportunities that are opening up across the state. The air pollution has also improved, though admittedly not at the pace that will fix the issue entirely. The state also took a surprising stand on Syrian refugees too. While many Conservative states have rushed to block migrants from entering their land, Utah has decided to keep their doors open to them. It is an impressive social stand for the state, but most other issues involving social policy have been far behind the modern day America.
One of his major social battles has been against gay marriage, which has occurred throughout his reign as governor. In 2013, a U.S. district court legalized same sex marriage in Utah, which made Herbert have a hissy fit. He declared that he was “ very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting Attorney General to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.” Following decisions in other states that struck down gay marriage bans, he called the move a tragedy, and a step towards anarchy. Eventually, Utah passed an anti discrimination bill based on gender and sexual orientation in 2015, which was actually a major step forward for the state. As some states are moving backward with anti LGBT bills, Utah is surprisingly one of only nineteen states has a bill like this that protects females and the LGBT community. Herbert is still making many anti LGBT moves, as he spoke for a group last summer that opposes gay marriage, premarital sex, and abortion.
Herbert has also been a strong opponent of Planned Parenthood. Herbert has defunded Planned Parenthood for the state, which has led from local outcry. Herbert's reasoning involved the P.P. videos that were leaked last summer, which were found to be extremely doctored. Planned Parenthood ended up suing the Governor, and suit is still ongoing. As the organization pointed out in their press release announcing the lawsuit, Herbert is only focused on the doctored videos, along with the fact that defunding them would destroy many sex ed courses that they provide across the state. Unfortunately, what the Governor misses about Planned Parenthood is that they provide fantastic amount of sexual education, and provides contraceptives to lower income communities in order to reduce the amount of pregnancies and abortions that occur. It is ironic that most of the highest pregnancy rates in this country occur in area who have no Planned Parenthoods, which leads to a lack of access to contraceptives.
One of the most concerning stories about Herbert came out this year involving his campaign fund raising tactics. A leaked tape showed Herbert desperate to gain money for his twenty sixteen campaign. He called himself available at any time possible to meet with lobbyists, in order to gain money and donations for his campaign. Both challengers from the Republican and Democratic side criticized Herbert’s rhetoric, which they claim showed his corruption and inability to lead. Herbert apologize to what he said, but proclaimed that what he did was not illegal.
Is it time for a change? In my opinion, it is. In spite of the fact that Utah is becoming a hotspot for business, there are many problems that need to be addressed. Socially, there are many groups that are being persecuted, and this will not change anytime soon. Air Pollution is still a massive problem during the winter, and Herbert has yet to develop an effective plan to eliminate the problem. Utah has two choices for replacing Herbert. He is running against Jonathan Johnson, who is a board member on Overstock.com. Johnson’s platform is based on less state government intervention, barring Syrian refugees from entering Utah, second amendment rights, no new taxes, and opposition of common core. The candidate that I will be voting for is Mike Weinhold, who is part of the Republican Democratic party. He is focused a lot on social issues, such as women's rights, tax increases for the top 1.5%, solving Salt Lake City’s air pollution problem, protecting water, expanding Medicaid, and improving the education system. These types of proposals are completely foreign to the state, and are initiatives that Utah will need to become a influential state that is pressed down by Conservative values.