We are only a couple of weeks away from receiving ballots in our mailboxes and voting in this highly consequential election. And while many of us are understandably captivated and utterly horrified by the race for our next president, there are many equally consequential elections happening at the state and local level.
So, in an effort to share some of the information we’ve gathered over the past few years and extend some accountability into one of our state house districts, here’s a look at the incumbent running for re-election in Utah House District 43, Representative Cheryl Acton.
Ignores the Will of the People
Remember how we all felt after the 2018 election once it was announced that Utahns legalized medical cannabis, fully expanded Medicaid, and created an independent redistricting commission?
Cheryl Acton voted to replace our new medical cannabis program with one that covered fewer people and created more legal hoops for patients. She voted to drastically scale back Medicaid expansion, covering fewer low-income Utahns at a much higher cost to taxpayers. She voted to repeal measures that would hold lawmakers accountable while they are redistricting, allowing them to gerrymander unchecked.
In fact, 55.2% of residents in House District 43 voted to expand Medicaid in 2018. But only 48% of those same residents voted to elect Acton to office. She doesn’t represent her constituents and we need representatives that will listen to the voice of the people while in office.
Extreme Anti-Abortion Advocate
One of the most controversial pieces of legislation that Acton has sponsored during her short time in office was HB 136, Abortion Amendments, during this year’s legislative session. Before it was almost immediately made ineffective in court, this bill banned any abortion after eighteen weeks, one of the most restrictive laws in the country. And she defended wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars when groups immediately threatened legal challenges over this blatantly unconstitutional law.
She worked hand-in-hand with national and state anti-abortion groups to run this bill and promote an extreme anti-abortion narrative in the state. Acton was given a “pro-life award” by the “Pro-Life Utah,” and has been one of that group’s most vocal advocates. In addition to running this unconstitutional bill, she supported a bill that would have mandated a medically unnecessary ultrasound before an abortion (HB 364) and another bill that will completely criminalize abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned (SB 174).
Doesn’t Represent Utah Values
During her short time in office, Acton’s legislative record has shown repeatedly her extreme views that are at odds with Utahns’ values of building strong families and communities, being good stewards of our environment, showing love and compassion for all, and maintaining transparent and accountable government.
- Voted for the creation of the Inland Port Authority and the Legislature’s power grab against Salt Lake City and its residents (HB 433 (2019))
- Voted to make state school board elections partisan races (SB 236 (2019))
- Voted against a bill that would increase affordable housing (SB 34 (2019))
- Voted against the expansion of public school breakfast programs (HB 222 (2020))
- Voted multiple times to make it harder for citizens to propose and pass initiatives and referenda (HB 133 (2019); HB 145 (2019))
- Voted to allow more radioactive waste storage in our state (HB 220 (2019))
- Voted to give extreme protections to gravel-pit operations near our homes and communities (HB 288 (2019))
- Voted to prohibit cities from adopting sensible protections against gun violence (HB 271 (2020)) and voted to adopt a “stand your ground” policy (HB 114 (2019))
- Voted against appropriating funds to subsidize public transit and encourage carpooling on bad air days (HB 353 (2019))
You can find out how Rep. Acton voted on other important bills and issues by checking out the Better Utah Progress Report.
I could go on, but if you’d like additional proof that Acton holds extreme views that are not representative of her constituents, I’d point you to her public Facebook and Twitter profiles. There you will find posts and retweets denying climate change, endlessly supporting Donald Trump, spreading election misinformation, advocating school privatization, marginalizing minority communities, and, of course, pushing her anti-abortion agenda.
Are you looking for more information on candidates ahead of filling out your ballot? Check out my last blog highlighting Sean Reyes, the Republican candidate for Utah Attorney General. Click here.
Chase Thomas is the executive director for Alliance for a Better Utah