Meet the robotics engineer and progressive Mormon challenging Rep. Mia Love for Congress

by Rhett Wilkinson

“I’m a robots engineer and I know a robot when I see one, and (Rep. Mia Love) follows orders… completely.”

“It’s that Christ-like compassion that draws me towards being a progressive. … I’m a progressive… because I’m a Mormon.”

–Thomas Taylor


Thomas Taylor is, yes, is a robotics engineer and progressive Mormon who, yes, is running against Rep. Mia Love for Congress.

His advocacy: “What I’m fighting for is for government to be boring again.”

Taylor has been “actively campaigning” since late March and officially filed as a Democratic candidate late last month. He has attended marches and rallies by Utah resistance groups to the Donald Trump presidential administration and gave a speech at the April 15 Utah Tax Day March in front of the Salt Lake City and County Building and is speaking on June 3 outside the Wallace Bennett Federal Building for the March for Truth Salt Lake City.

Thomas Taylor outside the Utah Capitol during a rally. The robotics engineer and progressive Mormon is challenging Rep. Mia Love for Congress. (Thomas Taylor)
Thomas Taylor outside the Utah Capitol during a rally. The robotics engineer and progressive Mormon is challenging Rep. Mia Love for Congress. (Thomas Taylor)

What troubles Tom

Taylor got into politics in 2008, after the United States’ economic collapse.

“It made me really angry because… no one was going to jail for fraud and corruption when (the collapse) impacted millions upon millions of Americans,” he said.

He also got concerned during the national debt-ceiling crisis of 2011, watching it on C-SPAN continously. It’s when, as Taylor put it, “members of Congress were willing to hold our debt obligations hostage to get capitulation from the other side.” He said such behaviors “set bad precents for the future” and they aren’t even laws, but “political norms.”

“When you shatter the norm, the norm remains shattered, and this is a threat to the whole (nation),” Taylor added. “Frankly, I like being an engineer, but we don’t have a choice (to get involved) now.”

Taylor said he would have marched during the Civil Rights movement and that Americans “are at one of these defining moments of our history.”

“My dream is when my daughter is 20 years old and I’m talking with my wife about Donald Trump, (Taylor’s daughter) turns to me and says, ‘Dad, who is Donald Trump?’” Taylor said.

Taylor was also concerned that Senate Republicans held up the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court for 293 days, which was more than twice as long as the next-longest holdup, of Louis Brandeis in 1916. Garland’s nomination expired on Jan. 3, with the end of the 114th Congress. Taylor was especially alarmed that Garland’s nomination also didn’t get a hearing, let alone a confirmation.

“If we’ve established that it’s OK for a vacancy on the Supreme Court for nine months, 10 months, 11, 12, are we going to hold up seats indefinitely?” Taylor asked.

Thomas Taylor with his three-year-0ld daughter, Naomi. Taylor is a robots engineer and progressive Mormon challenging Rep. Mia Love for Congress. (Thomas Taylor)
Thomas Taylor with his three-year-0ld daughter, Naomi. Taylor is a robots engineer and progressive Mormon challenging Rep. Mia Love for Congress. (Thomas Taylor)

Taylor pointed out that in 2000, the Supreme Court made a ruling that ended the disputed presidential election. That could have been a problem last year, if the result of the presidential election had to do with a Supreme Court ruling as well. That’s because only eight seats would have been filled on the Supreme Court and a vote would very likely have been 4–4.

“All of a sudden, we don’t know who the president is,” Taylor said.

Taylor described his concern about members of Congress who are “looking the other way” at controversial behavior by the Trump administration.

“The people of Congress know better and they are suppose to be a check and balance on this guy, and not only are they complicit and and enabling… on the possible collusion with Russia, they’re actively trying to squash investigations into it,” Taylor said.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) was criticized early this year for his alleged bias in a Congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Nunes temporarily stepped aside from leading that investigation on April 6 while the Office of Congressional Ethics investigates charges that he improperly disclosed classified information to the public, but he remains committee chairman for other purposes.

Taylor described the Trump-Russia collusion, if verified, as “the greatest scandal in modern poltical history,” saying that the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of former president Richard Nixon looks “quaint” in comparison, being cases of a political party stealing documents from another versus perhaps a “foreign enemy nation that helped put (Trump) in office.”

“And we don’t want an indepedent investigation on this?” Taylor asked.

The intelligence committees in the House and Senate are investigating the possible collusion, but critics have called for other committees, including those having to do with oversight, to investigate.

Taylor also compared Trump to a “Captain Planet villain” for his signing Resolution 38, which overturned a law that prevented companies from dumping coal mining debris in streams and rivers.

“I can’t get my head around it,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to be Republican or Democrat… if you don’t stand up against this stuff, you have no business being on the Hill.”

The battle begins

Taylor is one of three candidates running against Love. That gives him “a lot of hope,” he said.

“Citizens stepping up to the plate, it touches me,” Taylor said. “It’s what our country is about. … I’m hopefully that whoever ends up on the ticket on the Democratic side will defeat Mia Love.”

Love “has no interest in bucking the (Republican) party,” Taylor said.

Taylor said “(Love) deserves to be attacked” for her vote for the GOP health care bill that passed the House of Representatives, as time was so short between the drafting of and voting on the legislation that elected officials didn’t have time to read it and the Congressional Budget Office couldn’t determine how much it would cost.

After pointing out that the bill, titled the American Health Care Act, would cut $880 billion from Medicaid, Taylor said “it’s like protecting tax cuts for the wealthy it the Holy Grail of all this. … seems like (voters for the bill, all Republicans) want to live in fantasyland with the bill and it is literally going to kill people.”

Taylor is promoting “Medicare for all.”

“It’s about time we got caught up with the rest of the industrialized world,” he said, pointing out that developed nations in the world have such a system. He said that if risk pools are provided for everyone buying into the health care system, “it’s not only the human thing to do, but it drives down costs for administrative fees.”

“What it comes down to,” Taylor said, is that “the riches country in the world” in the U.S. “should not have a system where the public is choosing between bankruptcy or debt” due to health care needs. He said he remembered thinking in the hospital, where his wife Caroline’s tumor was being examined to determine if she had cancer, not only whether his wife would die, but that they could go bankrupt over potential costs to his wife’s healthcare.

“No one in the position where someone’s life is literally on the line should be worried about their finances,” he said.

Taylor said that he works in Utah’s community of startups and said that many would not exist if not for net neutrality law. Thus, the effort of Utah’s own senator, Mike Lee, to oppose it — Lee introduced a bill on May 1 that would nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. Taylor also spoke against gerrymandering, a practice he said is “really bad in Utah” and done “by politicians on both sides of the aisle.”

“That’s completely undemocratic,” he said.

Taylor also said more scientists and engineers are needed in Congress and pointed out that Love has not held an in-person town hall since Trump was elected.

Getting personal

Taylor grew in up the district he wants to represent and attended Cottonwood High School, being enrolled in the Granite School District from kindergarten through 12th grade. In high school, he was very involved in music and he said his math and physics teachers were key to his development to where he is today. Taylor recently earned a PhD in robotics.

Taylor decided to raise a family in west Millcreek. For a hobby, he watches movies.

“I wanted to be a film director for a good part of my life — I wrote a full-length script,” he said. “But I wanted to have a family one day and I didn’t see how film directing could support that.”

Having kids meant that Taylor hasn’t played funk soul music in some time with his band, Turbophonic. Caroline, whose maiden name is Taylor, is from Ohio and their three-year-old daughter is named Naomi.

“Everyone thinks their kid is the cutest kid in the world, but she is in the top 10,” Taylor said. “She’s got excited about this Congress thing. Even though she doesn’t know what’s going on, she will see me passing out fliers and want to pass them out, too. The other day, she said she wants to run for Congress, too, because she’s really fast. That’s the kind of cuteness even the best focus groups in the world can’t buy.”

When asked where he is on the political spectrum, Taylor said “I would definitely label myself as a progressive, especially on economics issues.”

“I would consider myself in the same vein… as Bernie Sanders,” he added. “The middle class growing is one of the most important things for me.”

Taylor loved that Sanders “inspired” Utahns, what with the lines across the state that even stretched multiple city blocks as 79 percent of Democratic delegates cast votes for Sanders over Hillary Clinton.

“It seems corny, but it touched me,” Taylor said. “Regular people got out and stood up.”

On being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and progressive, “I have gotten this quite a bit,” Taylor said. “As far as my religion goes, I have been taught we are to take care of everyone, to help the poor among us, to help the poor and the needy. This drives a lot of who I think I am.”

“I want everyone to feel that they are important and not just a number on a spreadsheet,” he said. “Frankly, it’s been my church membership that has really driven this.”

Taylor then shared an experience from his Mormon mission in London, when he visited the hospital after getting rather sick. He asked a doctor where he needed to provide a passport so he could send a check for the services he received.

“I got a blank stare and was asked, ‘what are you talking about?’” Taylor said.

“I don’t think we should live in a society where people aren’t being taken care of and ultimately, that’s what it comes down to, whether it’s health care or air quality here in Utah,” Taylor added. “All of these things affect my family and my church is a very family-oriented church.”

Salt Lake City is the seventh-most polluted city in the nation, according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report.

It’s a bore

Taylor is advocating to make “government… boring again” because he does not like that “people are using politics as a launch pad or a stepping stone into careers,” he said.

“I see way too many people going into office and fundraising when they should be going through page after page of mind-numbing bills and try to interpret what it means and deciding what will help their constituents,” he added. “Government will never run like a well-oiled machine, but it can work for its people. And there have been periods of time where it really has, and when it has, that’s been great because not all of us are into politics as a sport and it doesn’t need to be that way.”

Taylor’s campaign website is TomforUtah.com.

Liked it? Take a second to support Utah.Politico.Hub on Patreon!

Related posts