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The City Journals

Touting fiscal conservatism, Aimee Winder Newton enters the governor’s race

Nov 19, 2019 02:12PM ● By Carl Fauver

Taylorsville resident and Salt Lake County Councilmember Aimee Winder Newton has officially entered the Utah governor’s race. (Photo courtesy of Aimee Winder Newton.)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected] 

Claiming “I’ve spent my life solving problems,” Taylorsville resident and Salt Lake County Councilmember Aimee Winder Newton now hopes to create some for the other Republican candidates seeking that party’s nomination for governor.

“Utah is at a pivotal moment, and we can seize it,” Newton said in the two-minute video announcing her candidacy. “My vision encompasses not just the next four years but the next 40 years.”

Newton joined current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and businessman Jeff Burningham in the Republican gubernatorial race before former governor Jon Huntsman Jr. announced his run in mid-November. 

“I wholeheartedly endorse Aimee and have since I first heard she was considering the race,” Taylorsville City Council Vice Chair Meredith Harker said. Other members of the city council — and Mayor Kristie Overson — have all said they are pleased Newton is running but are not ready to officially endorse a candidate until they have studied the issues further.

Newton was actively involved in the Taylorsville incorporation effort more than 20 years ago. When the city was finally incorporated (July 1, 1996), Newton was the city’s first communications director. Her father, Kent Winder, was elected to Taylorsville’s first city council.

The Taylorsville High School, Ricks College and University of Utah graduate also grew her own business and served for several years on the city planning commission.

Successful fundraising will likely be key in the GOP governor’s race. Newton believes she is well on her way in that challenging arena. Immediately after her campaign announcement, Newton began accepting online donations, promising donors their funds would be “triple matched.”

“The matches were promised by other donors,” she said before the triple match period had ended. “We won’t know the total raised for a few days. My fundraising team said we had a huge number of people donating anywhere from $3 to $5,000. I am also reaching out for larger donations.”

As an example of the challenge Newton faces, earlier this year Gov. Gary Herbert donated $50,000 to Cox’s campaign. Herbert has also promised to host a fundraising golf event for his second-in-command.

“Councilwoman Newton is a fiscal conservative who is consistently mindful of taxpayers,” said Salt Lake County Council Chairman Richard Snelgrove. “She is smart, collaborative and hard-working. She will be a fantastic governor.” 

Snelgrove replaced Newton as the county council chair at the start of the year. In 2018, she served as the council’s first female chair.

“I’m not running to be someone; I’m running to do something,” Newton also adds in her announcement video. “We (the Salt Lake County Council) oversee a $1.2 billion budget — the state’s second largest.”

Newton also touts the council’s effort in recent years to reform the criminal justice system, make government more transparent and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Additionally, Newton cites among her top priorities in seeking the governorship: education, housing affordability, transportation and air quality.

In addition to Huntsman, other potential GOP candidates for governor include retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright. 

No Democrats have announced for the race so far and Utah has not had a Democratic governor since Scott M. Matheson (1977–1985).

During that 35-year hold on the governorship, one Republican to hold the post — for just 14 months — was the late Olene Walker. If elected, Newton would be only Utah’s second female governor and, presumably, the first to serve a full four-year term.

Newton has long touted the value of females becoming more involved in the Utah political process. In recent years, she has hosted educational forums for women, at her Taylorsville home. Among her attendees was Harker.

Before officially tossing her hat into the ring, Newton visited all 29 Utah counties from April to July this year.

“I wasn’t out to attract a lot of attention (on the tour),” she said. “I wanted to understand what was going on in each area. I learned a ton about county issues.”

“I’m a conservative Republican,” Newton said in her announcement video. “Utah has such a bright future.”

To view Newton’s announcement video or to learn more about her campaign, visit www.aimeeforgovernor.com.