It seems very appropriate in the year 2020 – America’s Centennial of the 19th Amendment – giving women the right to vote; Aimee Winder Newton has declared her Republican candidacy for Utah’s governor, thus becoming the first female representative of a major party to appear on a ballot for governor in Utah history if the stars align and her hard work pays off next November 1st.
Winder Newton has been a small business owner since 2003. A graduate of the University of Utah she has been married to Matt Newton for 26 years and they are the parents of four children ages 15 to 23 years. A roll-up-your-sleeves type of person, she was one who helped lead the charge in helping Taylorsville become a city. In 2014 Aimee was elected to the Salt Lake County Council and had already established herself as a “budget-hawk” in Salt Lake County where Utah’s second largest budget is created every year.
Known for her conservative leadership, Winder Newton is a believer in citizen-driven results. She will be quick to tell you one of the only ways this can be done is transparency in government. A champion of criminal justice reform and cutting government spending, Clark H. Caras of Candidates.vote was recently able to put several questions to Aimee Winder Newton about her candidacy and publish them here.
Clark H. Caras, Candidates.vote — What is the book right now sitting on an office end table or bedroom nightstand you are reading? And why are you reading this particular book?
Aimee Winder Newton — One of the books on my nightstand is Arthur Brooks, “Love Your Enemies.” I love his thoughts on, “How decent people can save America from the culture of contempt.” We have a real problem in America and I’m a big proponent of treating people respectfully, even when we disagree. This is a must read for all Americans!
Candidates.vote – There is an age old saying, “You are what you eat.” Begs the question – what’s your favorite meal? Is that your comfort food?
Aimee Winder Newton — I love Indian food. Getting Tikka Masala and Coconut Korma from Bombay House (A Salt Lake City restaurant.), is my absolute favorite.
Candidates.vote — Are you a hamburger or cheeseburger person – pickles or no pickles and why?
Aimee Winder Newton — I don’t eat a lot of burgers, but if I do, I like cheese if it’s real cheese and not processed (I’m a picky dairy girl); and I love everything on it – tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, onions, avocado, mushrooms, etc.
Candidates.vote – Do you and your family have a favorite place to go in the state of Utah and why there?
Aimee Winder Newton — Our family loves visiting southern Utah. We’ve made many happy memories in the red rocks of St. George, and overlooking the beautiful landscape in Zions, Bryce Canyon and Arches.
Candidates.vote — Ever run for student office? Did you win or lose?
Aimee Winder Newton — I ran for 6th grade president in elementary school and didn’t get enough signatures to get on the primary ballot. I ran for 8th grade president and lost in the primary. Then I ran for SBO Secretary in junior high and won. I also won SBO Vice President at Taylorsville High School. I loved serving my classmates and tried to be as inclusive as possible.
Candidates.vote – In the political climate of today, how do your friends and family react to you being involved in the POLITICAL world?
Aimee Winder Newton — My family and friends are very supportive of my political involvement. The hardest part for them is when people say mean things. I have thick skin and it doesn’t bother me, but it’s harder on my family.
Candidates.vote – Toughest/hardest problem life has thrown your way thus far? How did you deal with it and how much of who you are is a result of it?
Aimee Winder Newton — When my daughter, Aubree, was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The doctors told us she only had a 40 percent chance of survival, as the tumor was on her brain stem. They immediately operated on her and told us that if she did survive that she would be blind, deaf or paralyzed. After two different brain surgeries, they got 90 percent of the tumor, but Aubree lost her motor skill function and couldn’t sit, stand or walk. Her eyes muscles were also affected. We went through years of physical and occupational therapy, as well as a dozen eye surgeries. Each day I would wake up and wonder what I should try next to help her live a normal life. There was a time when one of the doctors told me, “Mrs. Newton, you have done all you can for this girl and you may just need to accept the fact that she will always have some of these issues.” I looked at that doctor and said, “If this was your child, wouldn’t you try everything you could?”
This experience taught me persistence, to listen to my instincts, and to be grateful in all circumstances. It is this same kind of boldness and willingness to fight for people that leads me to run for governor. Luckily Aubree is doing well! The remaining part of the tumor miraculously shrunk years later. She has regained most of her motor skills and lives a completely normal life. She served an LDS mission in Thailand, and is an economics major at Utah State University where she has a 3.7 GPA. She plays the violin and piano.
Candidates.vote — Do you play any type of musical instrument? How old were you when you first picked it up?
Aimee Winder Newton — I play the piano and started when I was 6. My husband also plays and we made the decision to have all of our kids take music lessons. We figured that since we don’t live on a farm to teach them hard work, that we would require all four to take music lessons. My three sons play the piano and my daughter plays violin and piano. They started lessons when they were 4 and take until they are seniors in high school. We do the Suzuki method, which is fairly parent-intensive. Practicing with all four kids, six days per week, for 14 years each, was one of the hardest parts of parenting, but I love that they learned so many great things – hard work pays off and sometimes we do things we don’t want to do.
Candidates.vote — What advice do you have for someone thinking of jumping into the political realm of things?
Aimee Winder Newton — My advice for something thinking of running for office is to JUST DO IT! It’s hard, but it’s such a great learning experience. I haven’t yet met someone who ran and lost and who was sorry they tried. We need good people in office – people who aren’t easily swayed by lobbyists and special interest groups, people who are willing to dive into budgets and go to bat for taxpayers, and people with integrity who aren’t afraid to make good decisions, even if they are unpopular.
Candidates.vote – Why the motivation to run for governor?
Aimee Winder Newton — I’m running for Governor because I don’t want our state to turn into California. I’ve been born and raised in Utah and love it here. We have such a bright future, but there are growth challenges that we need to tackle. My 25 years of experience in local government is exactly what this state needs as we look ahead to solving air quality, housing affordability, and infrastructure for transportation and water, and education issues. I’ve been overseeing the state’s second largest budget for the past six years and have proven myself as someone who dives in and looks at every line – keeping in mind what’s best for taxpayers and proposing cuts to unnecessary spending. I’ve also worked on a council with five Republicans and four Democrats. I know how to work shoulder to shoulder to get things done – even if someone thinks differently.