Preparing for the next Pandemic
Second in a series of blog posts from the recent Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon...Today's topic - preparing for the next pandemic.
QUESTION #1: What do you think we as a county or state ought to do to prepare for the next pandemic?
Three points: The current pandemic is not over yet; We know how to prepare; We need to be able to act together
1) First, the current pandemic isn’t behind us yet. We need to stay prepared, and adapt as the pandemic plays out and may worsen this winter. We can’t stop working to limit the danger and damage. We should keep a strong public health capability. Our public health offices must be adequately funded and well-staffed. We probably need to have an epidemiologist in every public health region always, not just during a pandemic.
2) Second, there are well-established good guidelines that we can draw from and have in place to avoid or limit a future epidemic. We don’t need to reinvent those. We do need to be prepared to act quickly – the failure to act quickly was the major problem that allowed this pandemic to expand and be so damaging. Utah is famous for its preparedness – both by households and in management of the State budget. Preparedness should be an easy local strong point for us.
3) What seems not adequate yet, and may be the most important for a next pandemic, is fixing our sadly deficient ability to have serious community conversations and act together. This may be the major political failing of our time. I think we need much more regular honest open constructive dialog about what matters to people. Not just empty yelling, name-calling, blaming, or insistence on “my way or no way”. We need to become more willing and able to reach agreements and work together. Then, when there are problems we can’t meet alone, we’ll be prepared to work together. I think we should work hard now to rebuild a better public conversation, and more understanding of each other. Then we can be prepared to act, together, when we need to.
My Qualifications & Key Issues
I recently spoke at the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce with several other candidates. I'll be posting a series of blogs that include my video discussion and my written notes for a series of topics. This first one was about my qualifications and the key issues for my campaign.
My Qualifications - I grew up in rural northern Michigan, in Antrim County, which is a lot like a low elevation, less mountainous, and much wetter version of Rich Cobunty, next door to a couple of counties that are similar to Cache County. My parents owned a small business that was started by my father’s parents during the Depression. My mother’s parents were farmers, and I spent a lot of my childhood on their farm.
I have BA in Biology and a PhD in Ecology, and I’ve worked for more than 30 years as a college professor, for the past 9 years at Utah State University. I’m a teacher and a scientist. My knowledge and experiences in education and science would be useful additions to the legislature, where most members have backgrounds in business, law, or real estate. I know how to find good information, I can work well with people, and I know how to listen to and learn from people.
I have held quite a few leadership positions, from chairing committees, to leading professional groups, to directing programs and centers. I currently direct USU’s Ecology Center and an interdisciplinary graduate program in Climate Adaptation Science. I was an elected officer of the Ecological Society of America, North America’s largest professional society of ecologists.
I have experience managing large and complicated budgets, including 4 years as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation. I understand the many responsibilities that come with that, and also how to allocate funds fairly and be frank and open about what is done and why.
I have worked in many interdisciplinary, multi-sector groups, including ones with a main mission of coming to a common understanding of a problem and finding acceptable solutions. I have served on advisory boards that work with agencies, communities, NGOs, and policy-makers.
I value community and public service. Here in Utah, I belong to Rotary and 100 Cache Valley Women Who Care and try to support many service agencies and organizations.
So what would I stand for?
Three general things: Strong Healthy Communities, Better governance, “Good growth” in northern Utah
I love northern Utah and would be honored to serve as your Senator. I would work hard and do my best to represent you well and fairly. I will listen to you, learn from you, and regularly meet with you and make it as easy as I can for you to participate in your government.
Who Am I?
When you're running for office, a lot of political websites and organizations ask for a biography and a litany of questions...
Here's my profile on Ballotpedia, the "Encyclopedia of American Politics"...
Nancy Huntly was born in Traverse City, Michigan. She earned a B.A. in biology from Kalamazoo College in 1977 and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona in 1985. Her professional experience includes working as a university professor at Idaho State University and Utah State University. She also served on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) and the Independent Science Advisory Board (ISAB). Huntly has served as a member of Logan Rotary, 100 Cache Valley Women Who Care, 500 Women Scientists, the Women's Democratic Club of Utah, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Society of Naturalists, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the AGU, and the International Association for Society and Natural Resources. She has also served as a member, fellow, and elected secretary of the Ecological Society of America (ESA).
Who are you? Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in rural Michigan where my mother was a teacher, a small business owner, and an advocate for quality rural schools and public libraries, a Sunday school teacher, and a church pianist and organist. My father was a pharmacist, a small business owner, a hunter, a fisherman, and a county commissioner. One set of my grandparents were farmers; my other grandparents owned a small pharmacy. I learned the values of hard work, independence, and personal responsibility from their heritage and understand the value of healthy communities, land stewardship, and family that are important to people in Cache and Rich counties. I moved west in 1977 and have lived in Arizona, Idaho, and Utah, which has been my home since 2011. I am a mother, a grandmother, an educator and a scientist. I am currently a professor in Utah State University's Department of Biology. I have managed large projects and programs that require prioritizing and balancing competing interests and finances. I have experience working together to understand and find creative solutions to difficult, often contentious, problems. My experience communicating complex topics with citizens and decision-makers will serve the people of Cache and Rich counties well at the Utah legislature.
Please list below key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
1. Education. I will work for excellent public education, with improvements in teachers' salaries, professional development, and in-school conditions such as smaller class sizes, and for diverse options for higher education. 2. Environment. I will work for policies that assure clean air and water, environmental stewardship, and access to Utah's lands for enjoyment and for livelihoods. 3. Economy. I will work for balanced policies that support an economy that works for all people and is resilient to environmental and social changes like we have seen recently.
Is there a book, essay, film, or something else you would recommend to someone who wants to understand your political philosophy?
A documentary film that influenced my view of politics is The Memory of Justice, directed by Marcel Orphuls, which I saw in 1976 or so. I took from it that people, and especially powerful groups of people such as governments, are capable of enormous callousness and cruelty, as well as ability to rationalize behavior that is far from respecting the basic value of other people. I think we must be alert to our potential short-sightedness and failings and have high ethical standards. I think that we make better decisions when the voices of all are heard and valued. Maybe the character Harry Bosch, in many of Michael Connelly's novels, also captures the message: everybody matters or nobody matters.
What qualities do you possess that you believe would make you a successful officeholder?
work ethic; perseverance; ability to collaborate; interest in people and their well-being; frankness; ability to follow or to lead; desire to find mutually beneficial and fair solutions; desire for opportunity for all I believe that there is always a positive path forward.
What is the first historical event that happened in your lifetime that you remember? How old were you at the time?
I remember many events from the civil rights movement, especially those associated with voting rights and education. I was 10 when the University of Mississippi was integrated by enrollment of James Meredith and 11 when the University of Alabama was integrated by enrollment of Vivien Malone and James Hood. Shortly after, there were several civil-rights-related murders, including the Birmingham Church bombing, in which children were killed, and the murder of three civil rights workers who had sought to register black people to vote. These events left lasting memories of who had the opportunities that were supposedly for all Americans, who did not, and the violence that was used to deny those opportunities.
What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?
Utah faces several major challenges for the coming decade: 1. Weathering and recovering from the covid-19 pandemic and other future pandemics, the human and economic impacts of which may only be beginning. 2. Negotiating a suite of actions to reduce the rate of temperature rise (global warming, climate change) and adapt to the many hazards it is bringing, including drought, wildfire, heat waves. 3. Transitioning to an economy that works well for everybody under these two realities will require fresh approaches to energy, transportation, education, and infrastructure systems, rural economic development, and more accessible and affordable healthcare.
Do you believe it’s beneficial to build relationships with other legislators? Please explain your answer.
Yes. Legislators must have relationships that enable them to work well together. The legislature must represent the views of many communities and factions. When legislators work together effectively, they can anticipate the costs and benefits of policies for different groups and so can avoid consistently ignoring or disadvantaging some people.
If you are not a current legislator, are there certain committees that you would want to be a part of?
Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Economic Development and Workforce Services Education; Higher Education Ethics
Is there a particular legislator, past or present, whom you want to model yourself after?
I appreciated the empathy, compassion, and willingness to listen to all that past Utah House District 4 Representative Dr. Ed Redd consistently showed. I also appreciated Dr. Redd's ability to acknowledge and articulate underlying problems and to look widely for solutions to them, even when some solutions were not welcomed by his party.
Are you interested in running for a different political office (for example, the U.S. Congress or governor) in the future?
I have no such plans now, but I believe it is time for me to contribute more to my government. I will work through whatever mechanisms are available to me for a better future and for a much more effective, accessible, and engaged government.
I have to get credit to Utah for being a "pro-vote" state. We have had mail-in balloting for several years, which has increased voter turnout without the controversy we see in other states. Mail-in voting starts early - several weeks before the election. As a result, we don't really have election day problems with long lines or voter disenfranchisement. You can even track your ballot online. So take advantage of our great state's foresight - there isn't really an excuse not to vote.
Visit Vote.Utah.Gov to find out:
Here is my profile on the website: