By LINDSAY PALMER
Gov. Michael Leavitt announced his plans to run for a third term as governor on Wednesday, squelching any speculation that he would leave Utah to serve in Gov. George W. Bush’s administration.
“I can’t think of any position I’d rather have than as the Governor of Utah,” Leavitt said at Wednesday’s press conference.
The opportunities for the new millennium in Utah are too great to pass up, Gov. Leavitt said. He said that the 2002 Olympics will provide a chance to showcase Utah to the world.
Leavitt said he is also excited to transform Utah into a digital state, attempting to give access to the internet to every household in the state.
After seven years as Governor, Leavitt said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been better prepared for public office than I am now.”
Leavitt said he has achieved many of his goals for the state of Utah, including the improvement of both public and higher education. He said that class sizes have been decreased, teachers’ salaries have increased, and technology has improved.
“The key for Utah’s future is investing more and expecting more from education,” Leavitt said.
Utah has also gone from 28th in household income in the nation to 8th since Leavitt came into office, he said.
Leavitt spoke of his commitment to caring for the truly needy while encouraging self-reliance.
In the past seven years, “there has been almost a two-thirds reduction” of Utah families on welfare, he said.
Reporters continued to ask questions about Gov. Leavitt possibly knowing anything about the Salt Lake Olympic Committee scandal.
Leavitt defended both himself and the Salt Lake community.
“I don’t think there’s been anytime when a community has been more forthcoming about a wrongdoing. We got the facts on the table and cleaned it up.
“If anyone is implicated by the Justice Department, they need to get off the train, and we need to move forward,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt said that he is definitely ready to serve another term as governor.
“Every morning when I wake up, I look forward to going to work. I would not do this if I did not feel that I could bring the same level of energy that I’ve had for the past seven years,” Leavitt said.
If Leavitt is elected, he will be Utah’s second governor to serve for three terms, which is the maximum number of years allowed.