Candidate Jon Huntsman visits Sanpete leaders
By Doug Lowe
Former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador, Jon Huntsman Jr. came to Sanpete County on Wednesday, Dec. 4 and met with local leaders in Gunnison, Manti and Ephraim before engaging in a lively discussion with Snow College students during an open forum held in a small auditorium of library named in honor of his mother, Karen H. Huntsman.
In a sit down meeting with top executives at one of Gunnison’s major employers, ACT, Huntsman listened intently to the thoughts and concerns of the successful company’s founder and CEO, Roland Christensen, along with his top two men, Brent Wallace, CFO, and Jason Christensen, President.
In particular, Huntsman asked the three men what they would like to see the government do to help them with the continued growth of the three composite technology markets they are currently serving: aerospace, firearms and bicycles.
A common theme voiced by the three men was the need to have more and better technical education programs available in the area. “When we get people coming here from the Tech Program up in Davis County, they have been prepared well enough that they go to work immediately, while those who got some composite technology locally need a lot more training from us,” said Wallace. Both Christensens completely agreed.
The three men also agreed it was difficult to attract and keep enough production workers.
The senior Christensen is the founder of ACTA Aerospace, ACTM, Freedom Innovations and Christensen Arms. A significant and well-known contributor to the advancement of composite design for aircraft, his various businesses contribute a great deal to the economy of the Gunnison area, Sanpete County and the state of Utah.
The younger Christensen then pointed out, “Highly educated and skilled people, like engineers are actually easier to attract and keep then less educated and lower skilled production employees.” Wallace then added, “At some point, this could possibly become a real limitation on our future growth.”
Agreeing with that possibility, Huntsman said he thought a higher priority for the state leadership needed to become managing and directing future growth, especially to provide more economic benefit to rural areas and to solve urban problems “like the terrible air pollution we saw all the way down to Nephi this morning.”
After leaving ACT’s headquarters in Gunnison, Huntsman and his campaign aides made a quick stop at the Sanpete County Courthouse in Manti, before heading to Ephraim and the campus of Snow College. There, in one of the smaller auditoriums in the library named in honor of his mother, Karen H. Huntsman, the candidates fielded questions for a packed house consisting mostly of students.
While the student crowd appeared to mostly like the candidate, it was difficult to tell whether they were attending out of genuine interest or merely to make extra points with some professor. Somewhat ironically, Huntsman’s main opponent for the primary nod, is Sanpete County native and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox—another candidate who also appears to appeal to young voters.