Barbs launched as campaigns in county begin
This year’s campaign season officially began Tuesday and one day into the candidates’ filing window Summit County is rife with political intrigue.
Kamas Republican Rep. David Ure, who represents much of Summit County in the State House, has dispelled rumors that he will seek one of two seats on the Summit County Commission.
With officials considering a change in the county’s form of government, Ure said the possibility of only serving a two-year commission term if he were elected in November deterred him from seeking the office.
A study committee has recommended that Summit County’s current three-member commission change to a five-member county council. If voters approve the change in November, the new body could form in 2009 leaving those elected this year out of work.
To gain a seat on the Summit County Council, sitting commissioners would have to run again, said Diane Murphy, a member of the committee that recommended the governance change.
First-term incumbent County Commissioners Bob Richer and Ken Woolstenhulme, who have vowed to campaign again for office in 2006, could have a difficult time winning re-election. A string of development-related lawsuits against the county began dogging the men around the time they took office three years ago.
"I am a bystander who has watched very closely," Ure said, adding that settling the pending litigation will be expensive. "Even if the county wins those lawsuits, it’s going to take a lot of money to even defend them."
When asked why he considered pursuing a commission post: "I am not being sued by anyone," Ure said.
Resolving the lawsuits should be the County Commission’s top priority, he added.
"There have got to be compromises made," Ure said.
The litigation stems from claims from several developers and longtime residents that the County Commission has illegally conspired to block them from developing property in western Summit County.
Races begin to take shape
Seven elected department head positions are among the political races slated this year in Summit County. The filing deadline for candidates is March 17 at 5 p.m. Contact the Summit County Clerk’s Office at 615-3203 for more information.
The contest for the Summit County sheriff’s post has already fueled speculation.
Sheriff Dave Edmunds, who will seek a second term, expects opposition from Kamas Police officer Scott Mark, a Democrat. Though Mark told The Park Record last year that he plans to run, on Tuesday he hadn’t returned repeated telephone calls.
Mark has met with Summit County Democratic Party chair Rob Weyher, but the potential candidate is still soliciting support from party brass, Weyher said.
"I’ve heard from a lot of the Democrats that they don’t want anybody to run for sheriff," Edmunds said.
After retiring from the Salt Lake City Police Department, Mark began working for the Kamas Police Department in the late 1990s.
Prior to being elected in 2002, Edmunds was a Park City police officer.
Both men, however, have reportedly been cops in St. George.
"I’ve got so much ammo on [Mark] I’m looking forward to it," Edmunds said. "If he really is going to file this man has got problems with a capital p."
Last week, however, Weyher criticized Edmunds for not taking a "community oriented" approach to law enforcement.
In response, the freshman sheriff touted the county’s Watching Our Neighborhoods, or WON card program.
"We are by far the most community oriented police department in the county," the sheriff said, adding that WON cards can be used to remind residents not to leave doors unlocked or garages open.
Weyher also criticized Edmunds for requiring deputies to drive black cars and wear dark uniforms.
"That sends out the wrong message," Weyher said.
Edmunds countered, "that is exceedingly insignificant. If that’s the only reason they want to replace Dave Edmunds as the sheriff, then, boy, they have a long way to go."
Two Democrats — Summit County Assessor Barbara Kresser and Basin resident Ron Perry will likely face each other in the assessor’s race for the Democratic nomination. Weyher expects a still unnamed Democratic woman to oppose first-term Summit County Clerk Sue Follett.
"I’m so glad that the Democrats are running somebody against [Follett]," said Kathy Dopp, a Park City elections activist who frequently criticizes Follett.
Follett is partially responsible for the county’s purchase of Diebold electronic voting machines that could result in voter fraud in November, Dopp said, adding, "with respect to elections, I think [Follett] has done a horrific job."
Follett rejects the criticism.
"To say that I strong-armed three commissioners would be a pretty tough statement," she countered about the Diebold decision.
Follett filed Tuesday as a candidate for Summit County clerk.
The rest of the incumbent department heads have all filed to re-up, and, so far, are unopposed. They are: Summit County Attorney David Brickey, a Republican, Democratic Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier, County Recorder Alan Spriggs, a Democrat and Summit County Treasurer Glen Thompson, a Republican.
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