Utah Policy regularly profiles policymakers from across the state. In this edition we profile Utah Rep. Merrill Nelson, Republican, District 68. Nelson lives in Grantsville, and the district covers parts of Tooele, Juab, Utah, Millard and Beaver counties.
What is your occupation? Lawyer.
What is your educational background? BYU (BS in Agricultural Economics; JD).
Where did you grow up? Grantsville.
Can you describe a fond memory? As a youth, meeting President Nixon with students from other states. As adult, leading a dozen boy scouts to the top of Kings Peak just ahead of a rainstorm.
What was your childhood ambition? To play ball for the New York Yankees.
What is the makeup of your family? Wife, Karen (of 40 years), five wonderful children and 13 thriving grandkids.
Why politics? To help preserve freedom in America.
Describe your perfect day: Small-town 4th of July, with speeches, parade, softball game, homemade cherry pie, and fireworks.
What are your hobbies? Biking, pickle ball, American history, and maintaining a large yard.
What was your first job? Paper route, followed by brine shrimp fishing on the Great Salt Lake.
What are your current motivations? To make a difference – to leave some evidence I was here – to benefit future generations.
What lessons were taught to you by your mother? Work hard (daily farm chores, etc.), be reliable, and trust others to do their duty.
Hottest issues I’m watching: Coronavirus, proper balance of government powers, census and redistricting.
What is the biggest challenge in public life: Polarization of political parties; expansion and encroachment of the federal government.
What is your biggest accomplishment? Politically, laying the groundwork for a convention of states to rein in the federal government; professionally, establishing the LDS Church legal helpline.
What time does your alarm clock go off? What alarm clock? My problem is not waking up, but staying asleep.
What is your proudest moment? My wedding to a girl who had previously turned me down twice; the first refusal was so she could serve an LDS Church mission.
What is your of philosophy of government: Government of, by and for the people – limited by constitutional constraints, and accountable to the people.
Why my political party? The Republican Party stands for limited government, individual freedom and responsibility, conservative family values, religious freedom, legal equality, and the rule of law.
What songs are on your favorite playlist? “Remember When,” “I’m Just A Country Boy.”
What is your personal motto? Do some good.
What is your most embarrassing moment? Getting pulled over for speeding on vacation in Mexico.
Who is your inspiration? Karen.
What is your favorite retreat? Home in Grantsville.
What is your indulgence or guilty pleasure? Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.
Who do you consider a mentor? Steve Handy.
Who do you admire most in the world? Dallin Oaks.
My farewell message to the world: Respect for the rule of law is our only bulwark against anarchy and loss of liberty.
My district is cool because: It is comprised of small rural towns, with people who reflect the best of traditional American values – good, honest, hardworking, God-fearing, family-based people.
I like serving in the Legislature because: I have a vote and the privilege of representing such good people.
A historical figure I would like to take to lunch: Abraham Lincoln.
What is your favorite sports team? Grantsville Cowboys.
I always laugh at: Seinfeld.
My priorities for the 2021 session? Legal, tax, and referendum reform.