Jim Gowans: I’m a Utah Democrat

The reason I’m a Utah Democrat is quite simple. This is how I was born and raised. My great-grandfather organized the people’s party, a pre-cursor to the Democratic Party, in 1863 in Tooele County. He was a judge and a lawyer, and my family has been here ever since.

My dad was involved as a county commissioner for 18 years, and I followed my family’s example of public service, serving for 18 years in the state legislature as a Utah Democrat. I was elected in 1992, started my first session in January of 1993, and I left the House in 2010.

I’ve done many things throughout my life, but I’ve always been a Democrat. One of my careers was in education. I was a teacher, administrator, and superintendent for 30 years. I was simultaneously a cattle rancher. I’m still a cattle rancher. I may not look it, but I’m actually pretty spry. I still run to the ranch every day to feed our animals. 

I grew up in Tooele and still live here with my family. I am also a U.S. veteran. I served in Germany with the United States Air Force right after the WWII during the Berlin airlift for four years. I met my wife after I came home from the Air Force. She lived two blocks from where I live, but we didn’t meet until we were adults! She passed away seven years ago, but we are the proud parents of four boys, three daughters-in-law, and several grandchildren. 

 As a family man, an educator, a veteran, and a rancher, Democratic values fit me pretty well. Democrats care about our families. We care about public schools. We care about improving life for all Utahns, and we are willing to work with our colleagues to do so.

I would consider myself a fairly conservative Democrat. But the beauty of our party is that we have room for the liberal Democrats, and we have room for the conservative Democrats like me. We understand the value of working together with people, regardless of who they are. I did that in the legislature with the Western Coalition. We met with like-minded groups in other western states to talk about rural country issues, animals, cattle, sheep, grazing rights. These aren’t issues you typically think of when you think of Democrats nationally, but they are issues important to Utah Democrats.

To me, the purpose of the Utah Democratic Party is to be the people’s party. To do what we can for all people, not just select people. I believe in the party. I believe in my version of the party. And I hope you’ll consider joining us to work for a better Utah for all.