Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox visited the Christian Center of Park City Monday, as part of his tour of all 248 cities and towns in Utah for his 2020 gubernatorial campaign.
For the last stop on his visit to Summit County, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox sorted potatoes and cleared out stale bread from the Christian Center’s food pantry with his wife, Abby, and campaign staff. Cox launched his statewide tour Monday, pledging to visit every incorporated city and town in Utah, to meet with residents and perform service projects. Cox says he spoke with Summit County residents about education, the rural economy and an increasing population.
“Everybody seems to share similar concerns," Cox said. "There’s growth happening here in Summit County—explosive growth. We’re seeing it on the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back, and certainly that’s a concern for people—not that they’re completely opposed to growth, though some of them are—but they just want to make sure that they maintain what made these places special."
Cox says residents also mentioned housing costs. The Utah Legislature didn’t allocate money for affordable housing during this year’s legislative session, something Cox says was frustrating because it’s a state priority. The Legislature controls the state’s purse strings, so Cox says the governor needs to convey the importance of affordable housing to legislators, not only for those on the brink of homelessness but for everyone.
“Businesses here in Summit County are suffering because the workers who they need in these businesses can’t afford to live here, so it impacts big business as well," Cox said. "I think that understanding that it impacts all of us negatively will hopefully help them understand that we need to spend more tax dollars there, because there will be a return on that investment.”
Christian Center Executive Director Rob Harter says it’s meaningful for someone with a profile like Cox to volunteer at the food pantry because many people don’t understand the need for such a community service in Park City.
“Having someone like the lieutenant governor, that basically kind of validates the need and also encourages us to keep doing what we're doing, is so encouraging to us," Harter said. "To say, good, because we see the need, but when it gets to that level where someone at that level sees it and also validates it, just makes it go that much further.”
Harter says if any other gubernatorial candidates want to come by, they’re welcome to volunteer.
The 2020 election for Utah governor is still more than a year away. A variety of names have been floated as potential candidates, including former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, but Cox is the only one who has confirmed his candidacy. Another potential candidate, former Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz, announced Monday he would not run for Utah governor in 2020.