Celina Milner, Utah State Senate District 6

Why did you decide to run for public office?

As a mother of two, every decision I've ever made has focused on what is best for my children. Similarly, I believe our state legislature should base its decisions on the best interests of our families and communities. Too often, I see our legislature driven by politics, ideology and special interests. I am running to ensure family focused leadership in the Utah State Senate.

What is your background? Profession, skills, etc.? 

Born and raised in West Jordan, I graduated West Jordan High, earned my bachelor_†_s degree from Wells College, the sister school to Cornell University in upstate New York, and studied abroad at the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain. Professionally, I have worked to bring businesses, people, and communities together through the nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors. Some highlights of my career and community involvement are as follows:
-Project Lead The Way (PLTW), Director of School Engagement
-Salt Lake County Mayor_†_s Office, Government Liaison
-EPIK, nonprofit focused on technology and children, Founding Member
-Salt Lake County Commission on Youth, Youth Government Committee Chair
-Morris Murdock Travel, Corporate Account Manager

What is your general experience with drug policy and substance abuse? 

I do not have direct experience with drug policy and substance abuse, but have gathered general experience and informed opinion from my various roles in county government, city and community council meetings, and through community-based nonprofit work. On the issue, generally, I'd say that taxpayers spend less in the long run when we treat addiction as a health care issue and take proactive measures to address the underlying causes of addiction. Moreover, I'd say that drug policies are best determined by listening to the recommendations of physicians and patients to ensure safe, quality, and compassionate care in our healthcare system.

Do you support the creation of a medical cannabis program? Can you expand upon your general feelings about medical cannabis?

The particulars of a medical cannabis program will certainly affect my support. Generally, it seems clear that there are legitimate, medical uses for cannabis or its extracts. Moreover, our health care policies should be about providing safe, affordable, quality, and compassionate care and not about restricting doctors and patients. While there are certainly safeguards that need to be put in place to ensure that any medical cannabis program remain solely for legitimate, medical purposes and testing to verify that medical cannabis is a safe treatment for various conditions, I am supportive of creating a medical cannabis program that works for Utah patients.

What steps would you take to reduce the number of overdose deaths? Do you have any personal experiences with overdose?

Substance addiction, particularly opioids, is a critical health care issue for Utah. If elected, the primary legislative steps I would take would involve enacting meaningful reforms to treat addiction as a health care issue more than a criminal matter. I do not have any personal experiences with overdose.

Do you agree with this analysis? Please feel free to elaborate.

Yes. My responses to previous questions should reflect how your analysis aligns with my own.

Are you familiar with the principle of harm reduction? Do you have any experience with harm reduction policies? Please feel free to elaborate.

Aside from reading about and hearing harm reduction discussed in various county, city, and community council meetings, I do not have any direct experience with harm reduction policies. However, based on my general familiarity, I would consider myself supportive of focusing on harm reduction policies.

What are your general thoughts on the decriminalization of cannabis? Please elaborate.

Decriminalization of cannabis has its merits. From overcrowded courtrooms and jails, to the racial biases and long-term impact. I am tentatively supportive of decriminalizing cannabis as one of several reforms needed in our criminal justice system.

Are you interested in sponsoring drug policy reform legislation if you were elected? What would be some specific areas of focus or interest for you?

While, yes, I would be interested, if elected I would still be in the minority party and given the controversy that would surround this issue, I would recommend working across the aisle to find common ground and likely have a member from the majority party sponsor the legislation.

Anything else?

I think that drug policy and medical cannabis are best discussed not in a vacuum, but as a part of a broader discussion surrounding health care. The issues raised by your survey are connected with issues of health care access and affordability, mental health care resources, and criminal justice reform. I look forward to engaging in these conversations in the Utah State Senate.