By UEA President Heidi Matthews
The UEA Political Action Committee (UEA-PAC) recently announced it is recommending Republican candidate Spencer Cox for Utah governor.
As chair of that committee, I would like to provide some background and context for this recommendation.
First, the process for endorsing a candidate is very democratic. Every local UniServ has a teacher representative on the UEA-PAC Committee. It is each representative’s responsibility to seek input from their local members, to listen to candidate interviews, then vote to make a recommendation. It was only after meeting with the candidates and following extensive discussion the UEA-PAC Committee voted to recommend Spencer Cox in the 2020 General Election.
Second, the UEA experienced amazing successes at the Utah Legislature the past few years, thanks in part to the role Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox played both in public and behind the scenes. During the interview process, Cox said that as governor he would work to pay Utah’s starting teachers $60,000; reform the retirement rules to make employment more attractive and to allow for greater flexibility for teachers to return to the classroom; and collaborate with the state legislature and education stakeholders to devise a comprehensive education funding plan. Cox said he was willing to consider expanding alternative funding mechanisms such as vouchers, but only after the state’s public school system is adequately funded.
Gov. Gary Herbert met with the UEA Board on multiple occasions and always had an open-door policy with members of the UEA Legislative Team. Cox has promised similar access. “I have committed to dedicating an entire day each week to promoting and advancing public education in Utah. This will include consistent communication with all public education stakeholders in the state,” he wrote.
Third, the UEA-PAC Committee did not take this recommendation lightly. Chris Peterson is a remarkable individual with much to offer. It is the job of the UEA-PAC to make a recommendation we believe is in the best interest of our students and our profession. Each UEA member must also make a choice of whether you feel Spencer Cox or Chris Peterson is more likely to positively impact public education.
The UEA is not the arm of any political party. Members of the UEA have differing perspectives and opinions with regard to this race. In the end, this recommendation is just that—a recommendation. The UEA-PAC Committee saw this endorsement as a way to continue to strengthen the voice of educators and positively influence the policies affecting education. It’s also important to remember that no dues dollars are used to fund recommended candidates. UEA-PAC is funded entirely by individual contributions.
I encourage everyone to make an informed decision in not only the Governor’s race, but all the important races this year.