Utah House, District 63, Austin Simcox

— 1. What did you do to help with the Utah 2019 Tax Referendum? —

I signed the referendum and helped educate as many people as I could!

— 2. What is your position of taxes on food and gasoline? —

I oppose any tax on food and other necessities. I don’t support making further increases to Utah’s motor fuel taxes unless those revenues go toward clean energy or public transportation. For most, transportation is a necessity. Government should facilitate that, not make it more inaccessible.

— 3. What if any taxes would you implement on services and why? —

I support service taxes that are applied evenly. Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers, but that’s what last year’s tax referendum tried to do. If we’re going to implement service taxes, they should be applied evenly to all services. That will keep the overall service tax lower and make taxes more equitable.

— 4. Many Utahns felt that after the town halls and committee meetings that the legislative tax task force held throughout 2019 that their concerns were not heard and that special interests wielded too much influence. On the other hand, many legislators felt that the people didn’t understand the issue or the solutions that they put forth. If elected, how would you respond to the concerns and issues that your constituents bring to you and how would you educate them on the issues you are dealing with? —

The burden is on legislators to make sure people understand. This tax reform was unnecessarily complicated and one-sided and people saw through the ruse. Legislators held a “listening tour” that really just became a lecture circuit. It was clear that they had an agenda and tried to force it on us. Luckily, it backfired. As a legislator, I would make sure that the legislation I’m proposing or voting on is something people actually support. An important part of a legislator’s job should be taking the time to educate their constituents through social media, emails, town halls, press releases, etc. However, legislators should never get in the habit of saying that they know better. As a legislator, I will listen and act accordingly.

— 5. Are you willing to vote against bills that legislative leadership wants you to support even when threatened with losing coveted committee positions, having your legislation held hostage, etc? Explain —

Yes. I will never compromise my principles to appease authority figures. In this area, I hold a unique advantage compared to my opponents. As a third-party candidate, I won’t be as subject to party politics as a Republican or Democrat would be in the Legislature. I will have the freedom to vote my conscience rather than having to constantly toe the line.

— 6. Are you in favor of the Utah School Income Tax Constitutional Amendment that will be voted on in November? Why or not? —

This proposal was the result of a lot of work and compromise by many stakeholders. It is far from perfect and more voices could have and should have been involved. The Legislature made some good concessions to earn support for the bills, such as the largest education funding increase since 2006. The proposal would allow income tax revenue to be used for services for children and individuals with disabilities. I support that. The proposal also creates some new, positive statutory protections for education funding, but statutory requirements have lower standards than constitutional requirements. Because this amendment does not remove the income tax earmark, I will not oppose it, but the conversation around education funding is far from over. We need more constitutional protections for education funding and we need stable, long-term solutions instead of yearly battles and fluctuating revenue streams.

— 7. Name one reason you are the best candidate for the position you signed for. —

As a teacher, I know how to listen. I spend my career discerning the needs of my students, listening to what is said and what goes unsaid, and then working with them to find solutions. Those skills will translate into my service as your representative.

— Email —

austinforutah@gmail.com

Hi! My name is Austin Simcox (he/him) and I am running for the Utah House in district 63 (Provo). I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Many teachers throughout my youth inspired me, shaped me into who I am, and gave me hope for the future. This includes my mother, who homeschooled me for a time and still homeschools my younger brothers. I knew that I wanted to spend my life paying it forward and preparing the next generations for the challenges they will certainly face.

So, I moved to Provo! I graduated from BYU in 2018 with a degree in teaching social science. I found my dream job at Walden School of Liberal Arts in Provo. I currently teach World Civilizations, World Geography, US History, and Financial Literacy. I’ve also partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Utah County as an afterschool program coordinator for my school.

In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, and video games. I try to travel as much as I can.

I am running because the Utah Legislature has lost touch with everyday Utahns. It has ignored voter-approved initiatives, gutted others, and gone behind our backs to pass a wildly unpopular tax reform package. They have voted to raise food taxes, prevented thousands from accessing healthcare, diverted money away from education, and made it harder for citizens to legislate by tightening restrictions on the initiative and referendum processes. I couldn’t sit by and watch our voice be ignored.

Recently, a state senator commented on the backlash to the tax reform, saying “if it’s grievous enough for people, I guess we’ll listen.” I don’t want representatives who will only listen if we put up a fight; I want representatives who make listening their top priority. I am running to be that representative. As a teacher, I know how to listen. I spend my career discerning the needs of my students, listening to what is said and what goes unsaid, and then working with them to find solutions. Those skills will translate into my service as your representative.

I’m happy to be running with the United Utah Party, which is a new party focused on structural change. The UUP advocates for a pragmatic approach to politics and puts the focus on listening instead of on rancor and divisiveness. I’m running with the UUP because it is focused on the needs and will of the people rather than on partisanship.

My name is Austin Simcox and I am running for the Utah House in district 63 (Provo). To learn more and to contribute, please visit austinsimcox.com or find me on Facebook/Instagram (@austinforutahhouse) or Twitter (@austinforutah).