County politics most divisive in years
November 10, 2006
Still think the county isn’t politically divided: hogwash, says Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme.
After the area’s nastiest political season ever, philosophically, the opinions of many east- and westsiders remain polarized, the nearly octogenarian rancher who lives in Oakley said.
Though Woolstenhulme, who is a Democrat, ran comfortably unopposed Tuesday, his colleague, County Commissioner Bob Richer, was engaged in a mudslinging-fest this year with Woodland Republican Bill Miles.
Salacious last-minute allegations about both men had the candidates during the waning moments of the campaign somewhat oddly exposing rumors about themselves that had swirled during the testy contest.
"I’ve been in four elections and this one was uglier by a factor of ten than any of the others," Richer, a Democrat, said. "I’d like to just let things start healing."
Though Richer came out on top garnering 58 percent, or 6,155 votes, the Ranch Place incumbent failed to win a majority in any of the East Side precincts.
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Miles, who received 4,384 votes, meanwhile, sat comfortably election night as returns poured in from eastern Summit County. His nearly 20-point lead, however, dried up as news surfaced of Miles’ dismal showing in Park City and the Snyderville Basin, where most of the county’s voters live.
On the West Side, Richer trounced his Republican opponent in areas of Old Town, Thaynes Canyon and Prospector.
But 128 people in Richer’s home precinct voted against the incumbent.
Summit County Democratic Party chairman Rob Weyher, however, praised Richer’s showing in eastern Summit County, where in areas of Kamas Richer polled at 46 percent.
"[Richer] picked up a lot of votes on the East Side of the county that he did not have four years ago," said Summit County Democratic Party chairman Rob Weyher about support shown for Richer in areas like Wanship, Echo and Oakley. "His message, I believe, actually got through. So I think that’s our biggest win."
Richer received 17 percent of the votes in Miles’ home precinct in Woodland.
"The county is divided as is the Democratic Party, very divided," Weyher said.
Still, campaign contributions Miles accepted from people like Basin resident Hy Saunders, attorney Greg Ericksen and attorney Joe Tesch, who each have criticized county government, perhaps hurt his ability to woo voters on the West Side.
About 49 percent of the county’s 21,884 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday. The results of the commission race aren’t expected to change with about 200 outstanding provisional and absentee ballots left to be counted.
Sheriff race not nearly as tight
When Kamas Democrat Scott Mark withdrew from the race to replace Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds, the Republican incumbent likely believed his second term was locked.
But Hoytsville resident Brody Taylor, an independent write-in candidate who emerged near the end of the campaign, pushed Edmunds to spend more than $15,000 campaigning during the final weeks of the contest.
"Anytime you have the public’s confidence, I think that that’s a sacred trust that I take very seriously," Edmunds said Thursday, thanking voters for propelling him to a second term. "We’re hoping to strengthen the bonds that we currently have with the community."
Edmunds received 74 percent of the votes with many of the 2,335 write-in ballots cast in the race expected to favor Taylor.
In the battle to replace outgoing Summit County Clerk Sue Follett, Henefer Democrat Kent Jones defeated Parkite Kathy Dopp, a member of the Desert Green Party, by receiving almost 77 percent of the 9,426 votes cast in the race.
Elected officials in the county who emerged victorious after running unopposed on Election Day included: Woolstenhulme, Summit County Assessor Barbara Kresser, Attorney David Brickey, Auditor Blake Frazier, Recorder Alan Spriggs and County Treasurer Glen Thompson.