Cooke says he's running for governor to restore balance to Utah politics
Peter Cooke, the retired two-star general running for Utah governor, bills himself as "a different kind of Democrat." It's the mix of lifetime experience that underlies that claim, he says.
In an interview at the Sun Advocate office Friday, Cooke said that his 39 years of military experience with the Army Reserve gave him experience in command and in dealing with bureaucracy. As Commanding General of the U.S. Army 96th Regional Readiness Command, he oversaw the activities of 10,000 soldiers and civilians. He also cited 29 years of experience in private business dealing with real estate, construction and property management. That is a background he thinks would be a good fit for the state's chief executive office.
Cooke said he is aware that citizens outside the Wasatch Front need to have a government that responds to their needs. Castle Country in particular will be seeing him and his cabinet a lot if he is elected, he said.
On the matter of challenges facing coal, Cooke said he sees the long-term issue as something "like turning a battleship." In other words, it is a long process to change direction. He said his administration will work to find ways to extend the life and health of the mining industry, while at the same time look for ways to expand and diversify the region's economic base.
He said USU Eastern will be vital as an incubator for new industries and technologies. Cooke views education in general as crucial to economic development.
On the Gooseberry Narrows project, Cooke did not take a side with either Carbon or Sanpete counties. He said any solution will have to have something for both counties.
The candidate said he is running "to bring some balance back to the state," whose legislative and executive branches are both Republican-dominated. That one party dominance has led to secretiveness and mismanagement in such state functions as Alcoholic Beverage Control, education, data security and workforce services.
"People want a democracy that has checks and balances," he stated.
Cooke is 62 years old and an active Mormon. He and his wife Heather have five children, four of whom are teenagers living at home.
His running mate, Vince Rampton, is the son of the late Gov. Calvin L. Rampton.