Gov. Cox kicks off ‘Connecting Utah’ tour at Tooele High School
Mar 20, 2023, 2:53 PM
TOOELE, Utah — Gov. Spencer Cox was in Tooele City Monday, the first stop in a tour that will take him across the state hearing from local leaders, families and students.
Hundreds of students crowded into the Tooele High School auditorium for the event. It started the way many political appearances begin, with Cox touting recent accomplishments like funding for education, water conservation and housing.
“I don’t think we give our students enough credit,” he said after the event. “They’re smarter than we think. They’re paying attention.”
Then Cox sat down with students, to ask and answer questions on everything from the mental health crisis and suicide to arts and agriculture. It’s part of his “Connecting Utah” tour to all 29 counties.
“At first it was a little nerve-racking because it’s the Utah governor, so I was a little stressed at first,” said Doug Seals, the student government diversity vice president at Tooele High School. “Letting everybody have a say and kind of getting a wide variety of input from all sorts of people is kind of what I took away.”
Cox asked Seals and four other students to describe the state of the country using one word. Seals said, “amazing.” Other students weren’t so positive. They said “broken,” “stressed,” “progressive” and “divided.”
Cox emphasized that last one. He pointed to data that showed many students around the country see that division.
“I think it changes our mindset a little bit. We get stuck in our own echo chambers and we forget to get out and talk and listen,” Cox said.
“So, it doesn’t surprise me that kids are feeling that. In fact, they may be feeling it more acutely than the adults. And I don’t know that we know the impact that’s having on our kids.”
Cox urged the young audience of students to rise above the division and disagree better.
“Unfortunately we have adults today that are setting a bad example about how we should disagree and work on possible solutions. And I really do think they are the future. They’re going to figure this out, reminding us how to disagree better.”
The governor’s office said the plan is to visit all 29 counties in the state during the 2023 calendar year. Next up is Iron and Washington counties next month.