Office of the Governor

Choose two candidates from below to compare.
  • Candidate picture

    Peter S. Cooke (Dem) CEO, small business owner, retired two-star general in the U.S. Army Reserves

  • Candidate picture

    Gary R. Herbert (Rep) Governor of Utah

  • Candidate picture

    Ken Larsen (L) Retired Research Associate Professor of Medicine at the UofU

  • Candidate picture

    Kirk D. Pearson (CST) General Contrator

Change Candidates

Social Media

Biographical Information

What differences do you see between yourself and your opponent(s)?

What role should Utah play in immigration reform and in its enforcement?

How should public education be changed at a state level?

How should the state deal with air pollution and air quality issues?

What role should Utah play in managing growth regarding improvements to infrastructure and the use of natural resources, such as water?

What is the most important issue your electoral position faces? How would you resolve this issue?

As a small business owner of 30 years, former Director of Economic Development for Utah and a retired two-star general who served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 39 years, I bring not only the valuable perspective of the private sector into the state’s top position – what it takes to meet a payroll and attract the necessary capital to grow it – but the ability to cooperatively and successfully work to protect Hill Air Force Base and its $3 billion economic value to this state.

My economic strategy differs from my opponent’s. First, I would energize our small business sector through a series of innovative – but tested – policies that will leverage incentives, deferrals, capital investments and resources to grow Utah’s existing small businesses. Second, I would embark on an ambitious and comprehensive “bottom-up, grass roots” job creation program called Utah1 – unlike any the state has seen before – involving stakeholders in every county in the state, based on public-private partnerships and focused on 7 key areas for growth.

I believe we should place more emphasis on innovative early education programs – like elementary school STEM zones and voluntary pre-school classes that will ensure our children get a solid head start. I will put in place secondary school initiatives that reverse our steady decline in test scores and poor graduation rates – especially among women and Latinos. My education policy will reduce class size, emphasize accountability and establish a peer review process, and reward good teachers for good work.

I would negotiate with the federal government to determine which lands should be preserved for wilderness and recreational use and which could help the state develop valuable energy sources, not sue them, The governor’s land grab has caused Utah’s Outdoor Industry to threaten moving its semi-annual trade show from Utah, which represents $40 million in revenues and supports over 65,000 jobs.
Utah was built by immigrants, first by Native Americans who colonized the area thousands of years ago and more recently by Mormon settlers seeking freedom from persecution. Even today the process of immigration continues to shape and enrich Utah’s cultural landscape. I recognize and value Utah’s immigrants and the contributions they bring to the state. For this reason, I support a pragmatic and compassionate approach to immigration such as the approach embodied by the Utah Compact. I will incorporate the Compact into my policy in the following ways:

• Due to the nature of our republic, most immigration issues are best handled by the federal government. As governor I will work with Utah’s congressional delegation to make sure that federal laws adequately protect the nation’s borders as well as Utah’s best interests.

• As head of Utah’s executive branch, I will direct Utah’s law enforcement officers to focus on enforcing the Utah Criminal Code. I will leave the enforcement of immigration statutes to federal authorities who are better suited to apply federal law.

• I recognize that families are the basic building block of successful communities. I will oppose immigration policies that unreasonably and unnecessarily dismantle families and that punish young people who were brought here through no fault of their own.

• Like other small businessmen, I understand and value the role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. I support safeguards that will prevent human trafficking and the exploitation of immigrants. Also, I will uphold the principles of free-enterprise and individual freedom that are the basis of the American Dream.

In conclusion, I recognize that immigrant families are an important part of our Utah communities. I will work to perpetuate a humane and balanced approach to immigration, one that is befitting of our free and inclusive society.
For too long, we have traveled down a broken path, thinking we could improve education through testing, rigid corporate-style accountability policies and choice. Emphasis on testing has led to a preoccupation with scores and the wrong-headed conclusion that when high test scores have been achieved, learning has occurred. It seems like data, not curriculum and instruction, determine educational quality in our state. This is backwards.

Unless we are careful, we may end up with a huge educational divide – an achievement gap that creates haves and have-nots, not a strong, united Utah. Our public schools in Utah are underfunded –resulting in the largest class sizes in the country, a dead last ranking in per pupil funding, declining test scores and graduation rates. I have a plan that will restore Utah to a position of greatness. To be pro-business and pro-jobs you have to be pro-education first.

A top-notch public education system is key to our economic progress as well as the quality of life for all Utah citizens. Unlike the current administration, I have a plan that will restore Utah to its position of greatness in American education. This plan is based on strategies to improve the quality and efficiency of Utah’s education system.

I will:

• Fund education at higher rates, so our kids and teachers have the resources they need to succeed.

• Support STEM zones in our elementary schools so kids can learn about the sciences in a hands-on way that encourages them to pursue careers in the science fields. Steve jobs wanted 30,000 engineers. This is how you get them.

• Support early childhood educations programs. They are proven to be the single biggest predictor of success in future years of school.

• Restore respect to the teaching profession by, first, not vilifying teachers or treating them as second-class citizens, and second, by promoting a peer-review system so that they can teach each other.
Anyone who has spent a winter on the Wasatch Front knows that air quality is a serious problem which impacts our quality of life. And with Utah’s population set to double by 2050, the problem must be addressed or we will face a public health crisis. In general, our current state government neglects this problem and has even passed legislation which makes the state Department of Environmental Quality more subject to undue corporate influence.

Air pollution poses a real threat to the health of Utah citizens, especially infants, pregnant women and the elderly. Its affects are similar to those of cigarette smoke and include lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes. An American Heart Association study shows that air pollution has resulted in a 10% increase in the mortality rate along the Wasatch front. In other words, more than 1000 Utahns die prematurely from its affects every year. Given these consequences, serious steps must be taken soon.

The state estimates that motor vehicles create 47 percent of pollution followed by homes and businesses follow with 34 percent. Power plants and smokestack industries account for 19 percent.

I have a plan to reduce pollution in Utah. Early in my administration I will issue an EXECUTIVE ORDER which will:

• Establish a major public education campaign to alert Utahns of the gravity of the Utah’s dirty air.

• Hold public hearings throughout the state to educate public and private leaders and solicit their help in addressing the problem.

• Create public/private partnerships with the purpose of increasing efficiency and reducing pollution.

• Review state laws and incorporate local findings into new policy that will improve air quality in Utah.

• Strengthen the Department of Environmental Quality with a balanced focus on community involvement.
We are developing land so rapidly that we have endangered not just our pristine outdoors, but our productive farms and ranches. The pressure to develop comes from the fact that only 22% of Utah’s lands are privately owned, leaving 78% in the control of governments.

We can’t just sue the federal government over federal lands. We have to negotiate, not litigate. We also need a plan of action that sets forth the lands we can reasonably afford to manage ourselves.

Moreover, 29% of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition. 18% of our bridges are structurally deficient. And our drinking water infrastructure needs $707 million in investments over the next 20 years. Yet our bonding capacity is at 87%. We are nearly completely leveraged, leaving our investment needs unmet and our ability to raise capital minimal at best.

My economic development plan, Utah1, will take into account our top 3 infrastructure concerns – roads, bridges and drinking water – and will forge partnerships with local governments to address them. Together, we will find innovative solutions that accommodate our growing population and that make Utah not only the crossroads of the West, but the crossroads of the future.

In addition, in the dry, arid West, water is the single most critical factor to sustaining growth. But Utah’s critical watersheds are at risk.

There is a huge threat to water in the Snake Valley Basin, 80 percent of which is located here in Utah. Outside interests want to pipe this water out of state to meet the needs of Las Vegas. This comes at the expense of our farms, ranches, rural communities and our state’s economic future.

I oppose the Snake Valley pipeline. We have to keep our water rights local because water is our lifeblood.
Job creation and economic development is my top priority. The keystone of my economic development strategy will be the Utah1, which will promote economic development and job growth from a bottom-up approach – teamwork with Utah’s cities and towns to forge one plan. For too long, the relationship between state and local government with regard to job creation and economic development has been a broken one, resulting in a checkerboard of policies that simply is not working for our state. The relationship needs to be a partnership.

My plan will have seven key areas for growth:

• Recruiting and retaining small businesses: This means reopening the Office of Ethnic Affairs – which the Governor shut down last year – to focus on spurring small businesses ownership by members of our rich minority communities.

• Making capital accessible for small businesses: This means creating the first Office of Small Business Ombudsman, which will act as a watchdog to ensure that small businesses in our state receive fair treatment in terms of taxes, regulation and insurance premiums.

• Promoting education and job-training in STEM areas: This involves building STEM zones in K-12 schools and educating engineers through Engineer Utah 2030, a plan to create 30,000 engineers by 2030, so tomorrow’s job creators can also be Utah job creators.

• Commercializing innovation: This means funding USTAR and other organizations like it at higher rates, so good ideas can become good jobs.

• Building public-private partnerships: This means teaming up with schools and the local business community to reinvest in Utah, our students and our people.

• Promoting entrepreneurship: I will make sure that Utahns willing to take a risk to create the next big idea, product or business have the resources and support they need to succeed.
I offer my fellow Utahns a track record of leadership that produces results and a vision to further solidify our state as the best place to live, work, play and raise a family.

I firmly believe anyone seeking re-election should be able to point to a track record of success, and should be able to share a clear vision for the future. I am proud to run on what you and I have been able to accomplish together.

When other states raised taxes to make ends meet during the economic downturn, we balanced the budget without increasing the tax burden. Our job growth allowed us to cut taxes this year.

A strong economy is key to a high quality of life. I know government doesn’t create jobs so I work to keep government off your back and out of your wallet. In that environment, businesses can grow, families can plan and we prosper as a state.

There are four cornerstones to keeping Utah strong:

Education: An educated workforce is key to a prosperous economy. We have increased our level of investment and we will embrace innovation to make every dollar stretch as far as we can.

Jobs: We will promote public policies that lead to private sector job growth.

Energy: We will ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy by producing 25% more electrical energy than we consume by 2020.

Self-determination: We will continue to cultivate Utah solutions for health care, public lands and immigration.

I offer results and vision. Utah is on the right path and the best is still to come.
Our nation’s immigration crisis is directly tied to the failure of Washington to deal with this issue. States cannot solve the immigration crisis on their own; the federal government must take action to deal with the crisis. Absent any meaningful leadership from the federal government on this issue, individual states are being forced to take up the charge.

I have outlined six guiding principles that should be inherent in Utah's efforts. Simply, these are:

• Respect for the law • The federal government must take responsibility • Private sector accountability • Respect for the humanity of all people • Efforts must be fair, colorblind and race-neutral • Law enforcement must have appropriate tools • Relieve the burden on taxpayers

The first part must be a strong enforcement mechanism to deter illegal immigration. The federal government developed an employee verification system that must be fully implemented to ensure a level playing field among all firms.

Second, we must develop real solutions that recognize the economic impact of those living in our state.

Over the past few years, Utah has taken a thoughtful, rational approach and has found common ground on the issue of illegal immigration. Once again, Utah leads the nation in finding solutions and making tough choices.

Ultimately, we must all recognize that the issue of immigration reform involves real people. We must develop solutions that recognize the human side of this issue. We must develop a Utah solution to this issue, since the federal government has refused to act.
The education of Utah’s children, whether in public, private, or home school, has always been a priority during my service as Governor. The next generation of Utahns depends on our ability to provide the best education choices and services this state can offer.

We have worked to increase accountability in the system, to make every dollar count by embracing innovation and our growing economy made it possible to increase education funding by $200 million last year.

Utah is one of the most educated states, per capita, in the nation. We must continue to foster a love of learning in order to ensure a bright future for our children. To reach our potential, 66% of Utah adults must have earned a college degree or post-graduate certificate by 2020. It's an ambitious goal, but we can reach it by utilizing our resources and working together.

Teachers are the backbone of our system, and I appreciate their efforts in the classroom. They know how to make more with less, which is a tribute to their dedication.

I believe education functions best when managed at the local level. We know what is best for Utah, not the federal government. With the federal government’s ever-encroaching hand, we must retain our right to control how and where our state’s money is spent. Innovation should be rewarded, not stifled.

Evidence suggests that spending money on education is not enough. There must be accountability within our system in order for it to function properly. Losing control of our education system, to the federal government is not an option.

As a state, we have agreed to higher benchmarks in the areas of science and math. Currently, no federal funding is attached to the Common Core program. We remain committed to dictating our processes, curriculum, and control of our education system in the state of Utah. Should Common Core become a more invasive intrusion of the federal government, we will reassess our participation in this program.
Good air quality is vital to our health, economy and quality of life. I have made air quality one of my top priorities. To be successful, we have to attack the challenge on several fronts. Our regulations are rational, complying with the requirements of the Clean Air Act while allowing Utah businesses to prosper. We are developing a new state air-quality plan, which will clean up more particulate pollution. We are conducting a study of ozone in the Uintah Basin so we can base our actions on sound science.

I created UCAIR—the Utah Clean Air Partnership—to help all residents, businesses and governments take additional voluntary steps to reduce air pollution. We all contribute to the problem. We must all contribute to the solution.
Utah is one of the fastest growing states in the nation and that provides us with great challenges and great opportunities.

A growing population can mean greater traffic congestion. Over the past several years we have invested in our mobility infrastructure. By increasing our road capacity and adding a first-class and expanding rail system, we have enhanced our ability to move people and goods throughout or state. Later this year, we will wrap-up the I-15 CORE project, the largest road-building project in state history. We must continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure, we must also maintain that which we have built.

As the second driest state in the nation, Utah values its water resources and recognizes the need for sound water management. Water is the lifeblood of our communities and economy. We begin by using our water wisely. My Water Conservation Team has successfully used the "Slow the Flow" program to help us all reduce our water use. We must continue to use only what's necessary. In addition, we will need to develop new water resources to supply a growing population, but we will do that the right way. That means developing water in a way that minimizes cost and environmental impact.
Strengthening Utah’s economy must be our top priority. We have done a tremendous job as a state during very challenging economic times. We have positioned ourselves as one of the strongest economies in the nation and we will continue to grow stronger if we stay on the path we have charted.

My goal is for Utah to lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business destination. I have set four objectives to serve as the basis of our economic agenda. First, we must strengthen and grow existing Utah business, both urban and rural. Second, we want to foster more innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment. Third, we are working toward increasing national and international business. Finally, we’re prioritizing education to develop the workforce of the future.

In only two and a half years, my administration has already made great strides toward improving the economic growth and stability in our state. We are having success by committing ourselves, unflinchingly to conservative economic principles and advocating pro-growth, pro-business policies that are benefiting Utahns across the state.

The results thus far speak for themselves:

- Unemployment has fallen from 8.0% to 6.0%. - 30,000 new jobs have been created across the state in the past 12 months. - 368 burdensome business regulations have been eliminated.

I will remain committed to these guiding principles and goals throughout my second term so that Utah may continue to be an economic leader for the rest of the nation to look toward as an example of all the things that can be accomplished when we get government out of the way of our job creators.
I have decided not to comment on my opponents.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution specifically puts immigration under the authority of the Federal government. Utah's role is to provide information and suggestions. Personally, I agree with Lady Liberty, "Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." I would make immigration easy, but expect everyone to come through the door. I would ask illegal immigrants to register to come through the door and pay a penalty -- or face deportation.
I do not believe the State Legislature should micro-manage education. We elect boards of education to take care of the details. As long as Article III of our state constitution requires it, the state should provide appropriate funding and forbid any discrimination that might violate the 14th Amendment. Personally, I believe private education has merit. There are many ways besides taxation to fund education, including parental support, loans, contracts with future employers and even student work as seen in the example of Booker T. Washington, whose students worked to build bricks and buildings, in addition to philanthropy. I believe freedom produces excellence in most human endeavors, including education.
My right to life includes the right to use government to prevent others from polluting my air and other natural resources. I would support laws that regulate and/or prohibit unreasonable release of contaminants. I would also support laws that enhance regulation during times of excessive pollution, whether natural (fires, inversions) or man-made (automobiles, factories).
Personally, I would encourage privatization of as much infrastructure as reasonable. I consider cities as private corporations. Between cities, I would support free competition for power, communication, transportation, water, sewage and other aspects of infrastructure that can be privatized. Of course, the State should regulate and issue permits to provide a structure that finds the proper balance between control and chaos.
Money! We are facing a possible financial meltdown on a world-wide basis. As Governor, I will help us prepare and hopefully survive such a crisis. First, I would find as many ways as possible to limit state spending and balance our budget. Like Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President, I would veto bills that unreasonably increase state spending. As Governor of New Mexico, Gary vetoed record numbers of bills and maintained a balanced budget. I would seek his assistance in bringing Utah to a balanced budget. I would encourage the private printing of certificates of value that could be freely traded if we needed to abandon Federal Reserve Notes.
Age 53
Phone (801) 856-1471
Facebook Page http://Kirk D Pearson
Email Address
I would start a special session today to nullify Obama care in Utah. I would not have to wait and check with the unconstitutional, unelected governors union. That would be like going to the UN to see if we should keep our 2nd amendment rights. I will repeal Common Core in Utah, which is Obama's version of no child left behind. Utah can guide its own destiny. We do not need the Federal government to guide every aspect of our life in Utah.
Utah should be a proponent of legal immigration. We should not be a proponent of slavery or a second-class citizen. To say we need a "guest worker" to do a job that we won't do for less pay is immoral and wrong on every level. If you come to America, you come through the front door and you come to be an American where all people are treated equal.
The first part is through funding. We need to take control of our state lands just like North Dakota has done. This will allow us to use our natural resources to properly fund our education in this State. This will also allow us to eliminate property taxes and not keep raising them. Next we need to turn control over to our local school boards and away from Washington D.C.
Through better positive communication with businesses and public efforts. We will create a data base that will list each business and the benefits they have made to clean up the environment. With the public being able to see how their business is helping Utah keep Utah clean we can motivate each other to do great things.
We know we live in a desert state. Our state water rights department has a great assessment of the water resources we have. Growth has to be managed accordingly. I will encourage and pursue new ways to develop and use the water we do have. For example, I will try to help the University of Utah with its idea of storing water under ground in wet years to be used later during dry years.
We as citizens in Utah know it is not right for our current governor to pay out over $20 million in taxpayer money to 2 companies to withdraw their bids on a highway project so He could give the bid to a company that gave him $80k for his campaign. Utahns want to change our current governor but they will not vote for a Democrat in a state wide race with Obama in the picture. The only two electable candidates in Utah are Pearson and Aalders under the Constitution Party or the current Republicans. The question is do you want Obama care in Utah along with Common Core,and over 60% of our lands locked up by the federal government. Or, do you want Utah to guide it's own destiny? Vote Pearson and Aalders in November, Thank you.