Clerk hopefuls expect fierce competition before convention
March 29, 2006
A crowded race to oversee the Summit County Clerk’s Office could thin out considerably during next month’s Democratic nominating convention in Summit County.
Two Democrats with faces familiar to county politicos are pushing to replace incumbent County Clerk Sue Follett, another Democrat. The position pays more than $76,000 per year and Park City Senior City Recorder Cindy LoPiccolo and former Summit County Clerk Kent Jones want the job.
"Somebody ought to be looking at that job. That’s not a bad little job to have out in Coalville," Summit County Republican vice chair Bruce Hough said referring to Follett’s salary.
Hough laments the GOP was unable to field a candidate in the race.
"We would have really liked to find a Republican to run for that office," he said.
Jones was a Republican when he worked as Summit County clerk from 1993 to 2002. But during the final minutes of the filing window March 17 Jones filed as a Democrat.
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"I didn’t know anything about it," Follett said. "It did surprise me, [Jones has] been a longstanding Republican."
Jones, a Henefer resident, couldn’t be reached for a comment for this story.
"That was a surprise for whatever reason, Kent decided to run as a Democrat. He probably felt that was his best route," LoPiccolo said, adding that Follett may have defeated Jones in 2002, but their resumes cannot compete with hers.
Follett was working as former Summit County Sheriff Fred Eley’s secretary when she was elected almost four years ago. She has worked for Summit County for about nine years.
"There are certain skills that are needed to keep that office up to date, in line with everything that is occurring," LoPiccolo said touting her experience as a "certified municipal clerk." "I’m not thinking that Sue has had that training."
Whether its during the convention in April or the primary election June 27, whoever local Democrats nominate for clerk could face Park City resident Kathy Dopp, a member of the Desert Green Party, in the general election, Nov. 7.
During the convention, LoPiccolo, Jones and Follett will try to garner 60 percent of county delegates’ support to eliminate the other Democrats and avoid a face off in this summer’s primary.
"I’m running on my abilities," said LoPiccolo, a Silver Summit resident. "If there was a fair comparison of qualifications, experience and skills, then it would definitely be clear."
She has worked as a recorder in the Park City Municipal legal department for nine years and before that was employed as a deputy city clerk in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Much of the clerk’s duties involve administering elections in the county and her experience best suits her for challenges posed by electronic voting machines recently purchased by the Summit County Commission. The troubled Diebold touch-screen machines, which have been the subject of scrutiny in precincts around the nation, will be used in county elections this year for the first time.
"They have to be checked, tested, run through the whole checklist of things that need to be done to ensure those machines are operating correctly," LoPiccolo said. "Here [Follett has] got new machines and she has the responsibility I think there has to be rigorous things that are being done to make sure they are operable."
North Summit resident Follett, however, says she has more experience working with the electronic voting machines than all other candidates in the race.
"All of us have had experience with [government-records access], of course anyone can learn new software, but for the last three years, the elections have been a big issue and I do have that knowledge," Follett said.
Also, among her first-term accomplishments, Follett boasts the codification of county laws and the revamping of Summit County’s business-license fees to comply with state statutes.
Though, Follett says she has drawn opponents in the business and non-profit communities because of stricter enforcement measures initiated against those who violate the terms of their beer and business licenses.
"We’re taking businesses to court that have not secured their licenses, non-profit organizations have been cited for not obtaining a proper beer license for their event," she said. "That’s the biggest rumblings I’ve heard, but that’s pro-activity and that’s just my office enforcing the county and the state laws."