Outgoing Sen. Gene Davis still plans to keep servingAug 03, 2022 07:45PM ● By Shaun Deliskave
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Don’t expect outgoing Sen. Gene Davis to hang up the “gone fishing” sign. After 36 years in the legislature, Davis still feels he has unfinished business.
Democrat voters rejected the long-time moderate legislator of central Salt Lake County in favor of progressive candidate Nate Blouin. Democrats left Davis at this year’s convention, but he still had enough signatures to join the ballot. However, the primary election results strongly indicated voters wanted a change; Davis lost 24% to Blouin’s 76%.
“It’s been my pleasure to serve and work with many different mayors. South Salt Lake, Midvale, Murray, Holladay, Millcreek, West Valley, as well as my home area in Sugar House. Working on the needs in these various areas, we were able to rehabilitate portions of State Street as well improve roads in Murray and Millcreek,” Davis said.
As a former disc jockey, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, gained from his years spinning records for KNAK and KALL radio stations. Then, as all good broadcasters do, he switched careers and went into public relations.
Davis was first elected to the legislature in 1986, when the Democrats asked him to challenge a longstanding, seemingly invulnerable Republican house member. Davis served six terms representing South Salt Lake and Sugar House.
“I ran for the Utah State Senate as Sen. Blaze Wharton decided not to run for another term. I ran in his stead in District 3, adding parts of Murray and Midvale, so my career representing that area of Salt Lake County began. In 2002, redistricting created a larger district that included parts of West Valley City and most of Murray into Holladay and parts of Midvale,” Davis said.
Of all the legislation he has worked on during his decades in the legislature, Davis wishes to be remembered for his healthcare access legislation. He sponsored legislation creating the Utah Health Insurance Risk Pool, the predecessor to many of today’s health reform initiatives.
“When Barack Obama was elected and brought forward the Affordable Care Act, I was one of the first proponents of that change. It meant that in economic downturns, people would still have access to healthcare. One of the great advantages of the Affordable Care Act was Medicaid expansion. I worked for many years trying to get that through until the people decided to take it upon themselves, and we passed through a referendum on the expansion of Medicaid in Utah. It meant more people had more access to health care,” Davis said.
Still, he wishes he had more time to finish his work regulating medicinal marijuana to provide better consumer protections. He also wanted to do more as co-chair of the Local Food Advisory Committee to address food insecurity.
According to Davis, “I’d like to get that taken care of, that we just reauthorize that committee to go on for another five years. So, there’s a number of things that I’d like to be working on to get that done…but having not gotten enough votes to proceed into the general election, that will be forestalled. And so I just have to work with that on the periphery end of the future. I don’t know exactly what the future holds; do any of us?”
Davis does have some plans once his term ends in December.
“I would like to share my experiences in the classroom. I also would like to continue working on legislation. It’s important to our communities to work on the Murray Theater and make sure we can get the funding in place to make sure that it gets rehabilitated,” Davis said.
Davis will still be involved in committee work until the end of his term. However, he says his mantra of 36 years remains the same:
“I have always told people I don’t own the office; I serve at the will of my fellow citizens,” Davis said.