Lt. Gov. Shares Unique Ideas on Politics

PROVO, Utah – Jan 17, 2017 – Spencer Cox, recently reelected lieutenant governor of Utah, spoke to BYU MPA students and faculty to share his thoughts about what qualities matter most for success in public service.

“His speech inspired me to be more involved in my community, to be more supportive of politicians, and to get to know politicians better by seeing who they are as people,” says Angela Marler, second-year MPA student from Escondido, California. 

Cox began his remarks by sharing his unique career path and his view that people need to follow what they’re impressed to do, even if it’s different from their original plans. Cox shared his own examples including choosing to attend Washington and Lee Law School in Virginia instead of going to BYU; making the decision to leave a law practice to move back to his childhood stomping grounds in Fairview, Utah; and almost turning down the lieutenant governor position—a dream job for any state politician. 

Although becoming lieutenant governor would mean a daily two-hundred mile round-trip commute from his home in Fairview and less time with his family, Cox decided to accept the position when Governor Gary Herbert extended the offer in 2013. In making the decision, Cox says he followed his dad’s mantra: “You have been blessed—you have a duty to give back. Find out how you can give back the best, and do it. That’s your responsibility.”

Throughout his service Cox has focused on doing what he feels is paramount to those he serves, despite possible negative repercussions to his reelection. He told students that making decisions only to guarantee reelection is not the right way to run a state or a country. Instead, Cox says he has found that living contrary to this political norm has still enabled him to gain the respect of voter groups who may not agree with him.  

“I’ve discovered that as a country, as a people, we are dying—we are starving—for people that are genuine, people who are real, even if we disagree with them,” Cox said. “We’re tired of the same old talking points. We’re tired of people who say what they think we wanted to hear and not what they really think. And I’ve been giving versions of this speech for three years, this is not a post-Trump idea that’s come into my head.”

While Cox said he strives to do what he thinks is right when making policy decisions, he told his BYU audience that it’s a shame to think politicians can never change their minds, alter plans, or make improvements.

“Whether you are a politician or you’re in some other service, I want you to be wrong,” Cox said. “And I want you to be wrong often because I think part of the purpose of this life is that we’re supposed to make mistakes and be wrong. Real growth happens when we’re wrong—but only when we’re willing to admit it and move on.”

Cox said he was grateful for the opportunity to advise the students of BYU and spoke highly of the MPA program after his remarks.

“It’s easy to look at the success of all of the individuals coming out of here and their rankings, but I think what’s more is the people who have gone through the school, who have graduated from BYU, who have gotten their MPAs here,” Cox says. “Some of the greatest public servants and private servants, and some of the most successful people in the state, come from this area. We are very blessed in the state of Utah to have such high quality institutions of higher education, and BYU is right there.” 

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox spoke with BYU MPA students about his experiences in public service.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Tessa Haas