The Issues In Depth
Fair and Accurate Representation
Apply time-honored values to benefit our modern-day community
We are privileged to live in a multigenerational community with people from many ethnicities and religions. With my work as a community volunteer and advocate, I have come to understand and support how our time-honored values apply to and benefit our modern-day population, neighborhoods and challenges.
Our elected officials should be a reflection of our community, not a reflection of the most powerful voices on the Hill.
Serve the community's priorities, not special interests
I spend time in our schools, community centers and government meetings creating a direct line of communication with the people in our neighborhoods on a weekly basis. For the past few years, our voters' only recourse has been to invest in expensive and time-consuming ballot initiatives, propositions and referendums trying to have their voices heard. Voters took a stand and were overruled on medical cannabis, Medicaid expansion, independent redistricting and tax reform. It’s shameful to be repeatedly undermined by our own Legislature.
Having had the pleasure to give more than 18,000 volunteer hours in our community over the past 15 years, I have personally experienced the divide between our community’s priorities and the legislature's policy. I will bring our grassroot voices to the Capitol and eliminate that divide.
Facilitate legislation that prioritizes people over party
My experience in mediation prevents me from choosing teams and requires my focus to be on identifying the problem and facilitating the process that brings us to the most sensible solution. This process must involve all stakeholders involved regardless how oppositional their positions. I am comfortable in uncomfortable conversations and am experienced in promoting civil, productive dialogue. I embrace hard work even in the most difficult environments and I get results.
I am proud to have Republicans, unaffiliated voters, and Democrats on my team. I have volunteers aged 16-84, from many ethnic and religious groups, serving on my campaign committee. This ensures I am informed in the best way possible to serve our community.
I am a moderate running on the Democratic ticket, committed to representing the residents and families of Taylorsville and Kearns above all else. I will always put my neighbors before parties and politics.
Ensure transparency and accountability in government
“Public” implies transparent and accountable. An elected official serves as a steward of public money, safety and policy. For me, it means to be worthy of the public trust. There has been an overt lack of transparency and accountability for too long in our state government. In recent months, this was exemplified in the tax reform bill and in the absurd $800K drug purchase during the COVID-19 pandemic. It took extensive public involvement and pressure for elected officials to retract both actions, a theme too common with our current representation. As your Representative, I expect to earn your trust and remain fully accountable to our community. I will fight for transparency and speak out when accountability needs to be taken.
Uphold local authority
We have a well-designed government from the top-down when elected officials work within their proper roles. Respecting local authority is critical to communities aspiring to succeed at keeping the people within them feeling at home by promoting their quality of life. I have been advocating for our local communities' needs serving as a planning commissioner for the past five years. I am a firm supporter of local authority and believe the best decisions are made locally.
Listen to public feedback, implement suggestions
As a mediator, I’m a trained listener who takes information from opposing parties and facilitates a productive, solutions-oriented conversation. The first thing I learned as a mediator is that the affected parties have the best solutions, not unfamiliar outsiders. Being in both public and private forums gives me the ideal opportunity to learn and apply information into action, programs and policies. Weekly, I am in our schools, community centers, government meetings and neighborhoods hearing about what’s important to our neighbors. Being where you are is the only way to properly reflect your needs. It’s an honor and privilege to represent our community and I look forward to hearing from you.
Stop spending a dime to save a nickel
Whether it’s running a household, a business or an organization, the key to financial success is being able to account for “true costs”. Knowing both the predictable and potential outcomes and expenses of a program is critical to fiscal responsibility. It is counterproductive to spend a dime to save a nickel. Prudent oversight and transparency will ensure these programs are well run.
Invest public money wisely
The taxpayer dollar must be respected. We need to investigate the short-, mid- and long-term effects of our decisions for efficiency and cost effectiveness before reacting impulsively to problems. Often problems are approached from too narrow of perspective. Costly consequences are the result when a problem is not properly vetted for the best solutions.
Prepare for rainy days
We need to always be prepared for the next “disaster”. Just as I learned training disaster services volunteers at the Red Cross for five years: stock supplies, educate the public and have a rainy day fund. I’m proud Utah values self-reliance. Our policies and emergency plans should reflect this attitude by being prepared for any situation that may arise.
Improve personal health with clean air
No kids on the playground during red air days is hard on everyone involved in school day management. Our beautiful scenery is distorted by the haze and we just feel plain “gross”. But, that is just the start.
Air pollution shortens the life expectancy of the average Utahn by two years. For example, 75% of Utahns lose one year of life or more because of air pollution and 23% lose five years or more. Even when pollutants are below legal limits and the air quality is described as “healthy” or “good,” pollution still degrades human health.* It makes perfect sense why air quality consistently ranks in our top three areas of concern in every survey. We all have to breathe. We need to promote optimal health for all of our citizens, all of the time.
Support economic development and sustainability through
investments in air quality
Air pollution costs Utah’s economy $1.8 billion annually. This economic damage is split roughly equally between direct costs (such as healthcare expenses and lost earning potential) and indirect costs (such as loss of tourism, decreased growth, regulatory burden, and business costs).* The long-term costs of unhealthy air must be calculated in terms of health care, tourism and loss of business. It is fiscally irresponsible to forego investing in effective air quality abatement in the short-term to transfer greater costs through those channels in the long-term.
Economic development and sustainability are directly tied to air quality. A talented workforce and a business-friendly environment are the top reasons businesses establish themselves in Utah. It’s within our ability to keep air quality from being the number one reason our families and businesses leave the state.
Implement programs that are proven to give us the greatest gains
As a planning commissioner, I have prioritized and studied our best options to improve our air quality for five years. Cleaning Utah’s air could result in billions of dollars of economic growth and reduce billions of dollars of expenses currently associated with health, education, and the economy due to bad air quality. Cities, states, and countries that have invested in reducing air pollution have universally seen immediate and long-lasting economic and health benefits.
Increasing the efficiency of vehicles and buildings, investing in awareness, removing subsidies for nonrenewable energy, pricing carbon pollution, and expanding alternative transportation could all result in double-digit decreases in air pollution. Similar measures elsewhere have had immediate benefits for human health and a large economic return on investment, averaging $32 in economic benefits for every $1 invested towards improving air quality.* Utahns overwhelmingly support such measures and the legislature has failed to act.
Promote quality housing choices that keep our kids and seniors
safe in their neighborhoods
Our population is estimated to double in the next 30 years. We live in a multigenerational community. Seventy-four percent of that growth comes from our own families, not migration. It is important that we create safe, affordable housing so our children and parents can remain in our neighborhoods. Forty-two percent of our households have school-aged children and 25% of those households are headed by a single parent. We need options to accommodate these families along with our seniors who need environments that support potential physical limitations and encourage social well-being.
Preserve the character of neighborhoods while providing
everyone a sense of home
As a planning commissioner in Taylorsville, I know strategically designed and placed housing units allow for lifestyle choice and encourage individuals and families to have a sense of home in our community.
We don’t need to change what we inherently love about our community, but we do have to work to preserve it. Aging infrastructure is faced with challenges that force blight unless we implement the strategies and make the investments to thrive. I have spent the past five years studying these opportunities and know how the State Legislature can support our municipalities.
Understand that housing affordability affects most people in our community
With all housing costs (monthly rent/mortgage payment, taxes and basic utilities) on the rise, our renters and homeowners alike are paying a larger percentage of their incomes to housing. Housing costs are considered “affordable” if they do not exceed 30% of the household’s gross budget. So, if you make $45,000 per year, like many of our teachers and police officers, you can afford $1,125 in total housing expenses per month. The average rent alone in our area is $1,162 (prior to utilities, etc). Even more challenging, 38% of the city’s households live on less than $36,900 per year and can only afford $922 per month in total housing costs. For every dollar required to go to housing expenses, a family has less for food, transportation and healthcare.
Focus on moving people, not just cars
Focusing on options that increase opportunities to move people, not just cars, has multiplying benefits. One such example is providing safe walking routes to schools. Only 14% of Taylorsville students walk to school. By increasing small pedestrian and bike paths throughout our communities, we could decrease distances and improve safety for our kids who walk to schools. These small adjustments may encourage potentially 50% or more of our kids to walk to school and would take a substantial number of cars off the roads, especially during peak traffic periods. We would also have the additional benefits of improved air quality, healthier lifestyle for our families and a broader sense of community.
Incorporate active transportation, trails and recreation
Utahns value our outdoor lifestyle and don’t feel that it should have to be eliminated because we live in an urban area. Whether for work, school, or play, having the ability to move about safely as a pedestrian or cyclist adds freedom and enjoyment to our means of getting around. We must be proactive in preserving what we love most about our community while decreasing negative impacts of growth. We’ll achieve this by listening to our communities' needs.
Reduce time away from home and improve air quality
Taylorsville conducted a city-wide survey in 2019 where the impacts of population growth came back as the #1 concern. Kearns is currently conducting a transportation survey by residents and anticipates similar results. This is directly tied to congestion, pollution and lack of public and active transportation choices. Like you, getting around town is often my least favorite way to start and end my day. What else would you like to do with some free time and feeling better with improved air quality? Check out this commute chart.
Increase performance, don't lower expectations
Legislative statute sets a goal that only 60% of 3rd grade students need to be reading at grade level. This leaves almost half of our kids behind by 3rd grade. Students still have nine years of school before they can graduate and most, by then, will not be at the appropriate literacy level. Even worse, we have yet to make it to the 60% mark in the first place.*
Lowering our expectations does no one any good. What if we took this approach in sports? We’d never see a world record again! We must increase performance. This also requires we equalize opportunities between higher and lower socio-economic areas. The COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the underlying inequities between schools of higher economic resources and lower. Homes without internet access were at a distinct disadvantage as school districts redirected their classroom learning into virtual conferences. In today’s environment, the inequities of resources are dramatically exacerbated. Students who were prone to skill gaps before will fall deeper in the hole, leaving future years of instruction potentially unmanageable.
Even those who received printed packets could not be readily tracked or assisted by their teachers and school resources. This is supported by the need for Granite school district to place their mobile WiFI stations, which took weeks to implement, primarily in our district and on the west side of Salt Lake County.**
Invest most intensely on the earliest years of education for long-term success
As a Center Director for Sylvan Learning Center, every student I saw receiving supplemental education had skill gaps that started in kindergarten. The first year of school is not only when kids learn foundational skills, but learn to LOVE learning itself. Our educators know that helping a child who is behind in reading in kindergarten or 1st grade only requires an additional 15 minutes of individual help per day. This goes to 50-60 minutes of individualized attention per day for 4th-5th graders. It’s much more cost-effective and results-driven to invest in kindergarten than try to mitigate the problems of a middle school student. By middle-school, we often see significant behavior problems in addition to the skill gaps. Let’s invest our time and resources wisely.
Maintain priority funding for our public school system
My very first impression of Utah politics was made in 1995-1996 when we added the additional earmark for education on the ballot. It was immediately apparent Utahns did not trust the Legislature to prioritize education. Utahns consistently support education, air quality and water as their top three issues. To preserve our best interests, we need to evaluate what is the most consistent and recession-proof stream of funding for education. A percentage of yearly funding should be placed in a rainy day fund specific to public education to maintain consistency even when the economy or disaster has the potential for negative impacts. Allowing our education to suffer when the economy recedes will only amplify the damage to our overall economic health.
We need to tighten what can be claimed in the education earmark. We have relatively loose definitions as to what is being qualified as an education expense and can be diverted from our public schools. This includes requiring the same regulatory process and accountability from charter schools. Publically funded equals publicly accountable and they should be held to the same standards.
We must not reallocate funding from a revenue source, such as our school lunch money from DABC, back to the general education fund without increasing the general education fund to match. This is similar to a double-dip into the education budget.
Attract and retain the best and brightest in the field
I have yet to meet a teacher who went into the profession for the money. I believe the most viable approach to attracting the best and brightest for one of the most important professions in our society is a three-pronged approach.
First, treat teachers as professionals, demonstrating the same level of respect that we show other professionals. Pay them, listen to them, and revere them the way we do doctors, nurses, first responders, architects, lawyers, and other professionals.
Second, support them with tools they need to teach. This includes support personnel, productive classroom sizes, supplies, and time to prepare for the incessantly changing and dynamic needs of students.
Third, give teachers a reason to forsake the money and status of other professions. Design a structure where committed and talented educators can be relieved of student loans based on their length of service which will thereby incentivize stability in our educational workforce.
Collaborate with public and private healthcare providers to ensure affordable access to all Utahns, including full Medicaid expansion
Health insurance started as a benefit employers could offer to be attractive to a competitive workforce nearly 80 years ago. It’s since evolved into a complex burden on employers, the government and families. Ninety percent of Utah’s employees work for small businesses, defined as less than 500 employees, and many of them find it cost-prohibitive or just prefer not to offer such plans for their employees. Hardworking members of our communities are going without health coverage.
For decades, the government has been trying to adjust for gaps in the limitations of private coverage by targeting specific populations based on age, income, etc. This is why Medicaid expansion is so important to our state. Private industry has left far too many gaps costing taxpayers excess money and peoples’ lives. As a mediator, I know the best solutions involve the contribution of all stakeholders. At this time, negotiating the best practices of multiple systems will provide the best opportunities for equitable, accessible and affordable healthcare for all Utahns.
Identify and eliminate healthcare discrepancies based on geographic areas
Our friends and neighbors in Utah House District 39 experience significant health disparities and adverse health outcomes in comparison to other areas of the state. Areas of our district are identified as needing the greatest amount of improvement in healthcare access and support. The health outcomes in our district include some of the highest percentages of diabetes, infant mortality and suicide in the state.* This is unacceptable and must be changed.
We need a strong, persistent and persuasive community advocate to stand on behalf of patients in our community. I have been advocating for the most important issues in our community for over 15 years. I will not quit. We must collaborate with, not give up control to insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers or special interests.
Protect patient-provider relationship and treatment
As with all healthcare opportunities, medical cannabis needs to be the exclusive privilege of the patient and healthcare provider. Having cared for aging family members with chronically painful or terminal conditions myself, I am empathetic to the pain and suffering endured by so many in our community. Utahns support removing State interference in the health decisions made between doctors and their patients.
Expand mental health and addiction services
There probably isn’t a Utah family who hasn’t been affected by an experience with mental health or addiction. It’s often experienced without any resources and often leads to less than ideal results. Ranking at or near the bottom in many mental health measures, Utah has an enormous task ahead of us to achieve mental well-being.*
The combination of high depression rates and low access to care, keeps our population at high risk, particularly our youth. We must welcome every opportunity to enhance our healthcare system, including the appropriate adoption of funding sources such as full Medicaid expansion.
Recent conversations and public awareness are a good start. Utilizing technology to connect and report is essential. Recruiting, educating and employing well-qualified professionals to provide effective and timely treatment is critical.
Improve transparency while controlling costs
for providers and patients alike
Identifying and adapting best practices will facilitate transparency and control costs for all parties. Reducing paper barriers and regulation, where appropriate, will support the provider and patient well in a competitive market.
Increase access to affordable healthcare
The greatest wave of concern came from the number of people who were not insured when the COVID -19 virus hit our shores. The non- and uninsured are stressed under normal conditions regarding their inability to get even preventative care, waiting for severity in their illness or injury to go to an emergency room. This pandemic was an assault on those who have limited and no healthcare resources.
It is inhumane and from a financial perspective, disastrous, to not have equitable, accessible and affordable healthcare. By not investing in the health of the people in our community, we have to “overpay” in times of crisis, costing far more in the end. This short-sightedness is fiscally irresponsible and must be reversed.
Read more about my response to Healthcare
Coordinate resource management between State and local
agencies during emergencies
Facilitating appropriate resource management between agencies and keeping people in the roles they perform best is essential to efficiency in times of crisis. The same is true for respecting the role elected officials play within their line of government. The state is best utilized as a coordinator between resources and communities as local officials and leaders will often know what they need best.
Read more about my response to Good Governance
Stock proper supplies, educate the public and plan for a rainy day
The people who had the least amount of impact during the COVID-19 pandemic were the people who were prepared for other forms of disaster. The government needs to apply personal disaster preparedness practices for large scale disaster and pandemic response.
Read more about my response to Fiscal Responsibility
Lead by example in a time of crisis
“Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others.” - Suzy Kassem
In immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I organized my community network to identify the immediate needs in our neighborhoods. Working with public safety officials, school principals and community leaders, I mobilized a team of campaign volunteers months early to conduct wellness check phone calls through a Community Check-In program. Within a couple of weeks, we were able to contact over 2,000 of our friends and neighbors in Taylorsville and Kearns to connect those who can help, to those who need resources. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve heard hundreds of “thank you’s” and heard many success stories connecting people in Taylorsville and Kearns. It is such an honor to listen to people in a challenging time, to earn their trust and serve them well. I’m grateful for the opportunity.
Watch a video about our Community Check-In program here.
I look forward to the many ways I can serve our community as your Representative in the Utah State Legislature. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.