Huntsman Jr. announces bid for Utah governor, speaks at Southern Utah University

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CEDAR CITY (ABC4 News) – Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. announced Thursday his hopes to reclaim his old job as Utah governor, delivering his first speech as a candidate at Southern Utah University about his vision for the state and the world.

In a room filled with dozens of students and members of the public at SUU’s Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service, Huntsman Jr. said he was not a politician, but a public servant — and he addressed the students directly, focusing on their responsibility to step up, “change the world,” and help bridge the partisan divides he said are “killing the country.”

“I don’t want to say that my generation has screwed it up, but I’m here to say that your generation is going to be part of the healing process, so that’s my charge to you,” Huntsman Jr. said, vowing to serve a full-term if elected and emphasizing that he is seeking the Republican nomination.

Among many of the key issues the candidate wants to address as governor include intergenerational poverty, healthcare costs, accessible pharmaceuticals, and cybersecurity, adding that he believes election meddling is a “real threat” to our nation — what he calls a part of the “malign influence Russia has used for some time.”

“It was pretty clear to me what they were up to, their motives, and why they did it,” he added. “It’s also pretty clear to me that they have the wherewithal to hit us at the local levels.”

But Huntsman Jr. said the most important issue of his candidacy — and the state — is its growth, even describing Southern Utah as “ground zero” and emphasizing that the way the growth is handled in 2020 will affect each community for decades to come.

“We’re gonna add another million people in this state, and how we’re gonna shoe-horn another million people into this state without losing our quality of life, without it impacting air quality, water, and our economic viability — that’s an important discussion to have,” Huntsman Jr. said.

The candidate emphasized diversifying opportunities for all Utahns, which he said needs to be coupled with “young voices willing to take up the issues.”

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