Campaign rumblings prevalent
March 4, 2006
Decisions Republican Dave Edmunds has made during his first term in office have enflamed Democrats who are pushing to unseat the freshman Summit County sheriff in November.
"I’ve noticed in the last three years that the [Summit County Sheriff’s Office] has come to look more like the Los Angeles City Police Department," Summit County Democratic Party chair Rob Weyher said. "I do not like to see the sheriff’s officers dressed in paramilitary uniforms and I do not like their black cars. That sends out the wrong message."
Weyher praised Park City police officers for their "community oriented" approach to law enforcement, adding, "I don’t believe that the present administration of the Summit County sheriff’s department is (community oriented)."
Edmunds, a 33-year-old Kamas resident, became one of the state’s youngest sheriffs when he defeated Sheriff’s Office veteran Joe Offret, a Democrat, to win the election in 2002.
"I think Rob Weyher is alone to be honest with you. I’m a little surprised by his comments," Edmunds countered Friday. "The reason I went to the black (vehicles) was to distinguish the Summit County Sheriff’s Office from every other law enforcement agency in Summit County."
County GOP chair Diane Walker says Republicans will work for Edmunds’ re-election.
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But Kamas police officer Scott Mark, a Democrat from Francis who may run, could have the credentials necessary to unseat the comparatively inexperienced sheriff, Weyher said. Mark is a retired Salt Lake City officer who has worked for the Kamas Police Department since 1999.
"[Mark] is very intelligent and very articulate and I would like to see a change," Weyher said, adding that Mark intends to oppose Edmunds. "I would encourage other competent Democrats in the county that have the appropriate [training] to apply for the job as well."
Meanwhile, with the March 17 filing deadline for candidates looming, Summit County Attorney David Brickey isn’t sure whether he will run as a Republican or an independent. The Summit County Commission appointed Republican Brickey to replace former Democratic County Attorney Bob Adkins after Adkins was confirmed as a district court judge last year.
Brickey recently refused an invitation from Weyher to join the Democratic Party.
"I think [Brickey] made a mistake in judgment on that one," Weyher said. "I think it would improve his chances, but he feels it would be unfair and disingenuous to the Republican Party."
Brickey, however, insists that the county attorney’s post should not be politicized.
"I really think the people in Summit County look at the candidates, not just party affiliation," he said.
During a telephone interview Thursday, Brickey addressed statements from Weyher that the deputy city attorney for Park City, Tom Daley, will run against him.
"[The campaign] is going to be issue oriented, there is really no reason this should get personal," Brickey said.
But Daley dispelled the rumblings that he would run.
"The reasons not to far outnumbered and outweighed the reasons to run," said Daley, a Democrat, on Friday. "I have not told anybody I would in fact run."
The most watched political contests in the county this year could be for two seats on the Summit County Commission, presently held by Democrats.
GOP brass say candidates are being recruited to oppose County Commissioners Bob Richer and Ken Woolstenhulme, but Thursday Walker, the party chair, wouldn’t reveal names.
"It’ll be interesting to see who files for what offices. There is always someone who you hadn’t heard was interested," she said.
Meanwhile, Richer and Woolstenhulme intend to each seek a second term.
Weyher expects Woolstenhulme, an Oakley resident, to run unopposed.
"But I believe that Dave Ure may be [Richer’s] opponent," Weyher said. "Mr. Ure and Mr. Woolstenhulme are on the same page on most issues that would affect the county. If [Ure is] planning on running I would imagine he would be going after Bob Richer’s seat."
He speculated this week that Ure, a Kamas Republican, is tired of representing much of Summit County in Utah’s House of Representatives.
But a seat on the County Commission would not be the ideal job for the South Summit dairy farmer, Weyher claims.
"[Ure], other than his ranch and his dairy farm, has never been an administrator," Weyher said. "What he administrates in his agricultural business is very small in relation to county government."
In 1994, Ure defeated Richer in the race for House District 53 after receiving 3,898 votes in Summit County. Richer received 3,461 votes from county residents.
"That was a very rancorous campaign," Weyher said.
But during the last three years Richer has tried to shed his image as a developer and real-estate agent to become a stronger candidate, he added, discouraging other Democrats from opposing the first-term incumbent.
Incumbents that hold other elected positions in Summit County are all expected to run for office. Weyher this week wouldn’t reveal the name of a Democratic woman who plans to oppose Summit County Clerk Sue Follett, another Democrat.
Candidates can file between March 7 and 17. For more information, contact the Summit County Clerk’s Office at 615-3203.