NORTH LOGAN – While Utah remains deeply mired in the coronavirus pandemic, political debate continues over the best way to spark economic recovery once the threat of COVID-19 infection recedes.
In the campaign to replace incumbent Rep. Val Potter in the House District 3 seat in the Utah Legislature, GOP candidate Mike Petersen believes that the state government should take a hands-off approach to economic recovery from the coronavirus.
“I think our best route out of this pandemic is to unleash our businesses and allow them to finally get back to doing what they know how to do best,” Petersen said in a recent candidate forum sponsored by the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The Republican candidate credited the Chamber’s leaders, along with those of organizations like the Downtown Business Alliance and Ski Utah, with working hard to sustain local businesses during the ongoing health crisis. He also believes that the state was too quick to impose health restrictions on businesses, rather than letting their owners develop their own individual solutions within broader safety guidelines.
“Business owners know that they need customers to survive,” Petersen argued, “so they’re going to do what they need to do to keep their customers safe and comfortable so that they can continue to generate revenues and pay their bills and salaries.
“What government needs to do is stay out of their way.”
The North Logan businessman has experience practicing what he preaches. As co-owner of LetterPress Software, an instructional design consulting firm, Petersen said he has spent more than 20 years, “helping businesses – including my own – survive and thrive in hard times.”
Over the years, Petersen’s clients have included the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Forest Service, the Ute Indian Tribe, the School of Medicine at the University of Chicago as well as corporations like Ernst & Young and Lockheed-Martin Aerospace.
That background, Petersen said, has taught him the wisdom of President Ronald Reagan’s often quoted observation that, “government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.”
“What government can do most (to spark economic recovery from the pandemic) is to remove barriers to that process,” Petersen emphasized. “We need to look at and remove any regulations that keep the doors of local businesses closed.”
Petersen’s opponent in the 3rd District race is Holly Gunther of North Logan, who agrees that government rules are no substitute for community support when it comes to stimulating economic recovery from the pandemic.
“We need compassion, not compulsion,” Gunther said during the candidate forum.
Petersen and Gunther will face off in the general election balloting on Nov. 3.