Democratic Party brass: Richer will run again
Though Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer has reportedly indicated to Democratic Party brass that he will seek a second term in November, this week he was still mum on the matter.
"I don’t think I can put it off too much longer you’ll be hearing from me very soon," Richer said Thursday. "I’ll get the word out to you probably next week."
But according to Summit County Democratic Party Secretary Laura Bonham, "Bob Richer’s running again."
"We are not recruiting a candidate in his race we have no reason to try and unseat [Richer]," Bonham said this week.
Democratic County Commissioner Sally Elliott has three more years to serve on the board but the third commission seat that currently belongs to Democrat Ken Woolstenhulme could be contested in 2006. In 2007, Bonham says the Summit County Democratic Party hopes to still dominate the three-member board. The period for candidates to file begins March 7 and ends March 17.
"I’ve been thinking seriously about [running again]," Woolstenhulme said Thursday. "I’m leaning toward doing it."
Summit County Republican Party chairwoman Diane Walker wasn’t surprised by both commissioners’ intentions.
"As a party we’re more interested in finding good, qualified candidates from the Republican Party to run for offices than we are in what other people are doing," Walker said. "We have been looking for people to run for the County Commission but we don’t have a specific name yet."
Bonham encouraged Woolstenhulme this week to run.
"As far as we know, Ken is running," she said. "If he decides to run, we will support Ken."
Democrats in the county, interested in replacing Woolstenhulme, won’t likely challenge the incumbent, Bonham said.
"My biggest concern is looking out for people and their property rights," Woolstenhulme said. "I empathize with some of those property owners."
Though he’s a popular figure in eastern Summit County, some westsiders have criticized Woolstenhulme for his positions that place property rights ahead of the preservation of open space.
"If we have somebody who’s an incumbent, we’re not going to go out and actively seek somebody to challenge them," Bonham said.
But, during the past three years, attorneys litigating against Summit County have named Richer and Woolstenhulme as defendants in several development-related lawsuits.
"Both those guys ran (in 2002) hoping to do away with a bunch of lawsuits and to go ahead and settle and be friends with everybody, and it didn’t seem like that strategy worked out very well," said former Summit County Commissioner Patrick Cone, a Summit County Democratic Party committee member.
Democratic leaders, however, seem undeterred by the lawsuits that some may view as political baggage.
"They are the same string of lawsuits that come from either the Summit Water deal or from the Nadine Gillmor bunch. Every county commissioner has been named in those suits for the past couple, ten years," Bonham said. "Nothing [Richer] has done would cause me to say that we wouldn’t be happy to have him run again."
In 2002, Richer, a former Park City councilor, defeated East Side Republican Merlyn Johnson, a former Coalville mayor, for a seat on the County Commission. The same year, Woolstenhulme, a former Summit County commissioner and Oakley mayor, defeated Republican David Allen and Cone, an incumbent write-in candidate.
This year, Cone says he won’t likely run for office, adding, "do I want to do that job again? No."
"I hope somebody steps up who can do it," Cone said. "We need somebody who’s decisive in government. Somebody who’s willing to make a decision, you can’t get into politics and tell people your favorite color is plaid, that’s not decisive."
He’d like Richer and Woolstenhulme to "spell out [their] accomplishments."
"I don’t think you need caretaker commissioners you need somebody who’s going to set the course," Cone said. "Ken has done exactly what we expected him to do, which was to represent the East Side rural people, not necessarily the county as a whole. Bob I think is a little harder to put a finger on."
For more information about how to file as a candidate for elected office contact the Summit County Clerk’s Office at 615-3203. The filing fee for Summit County Commission is $265.03. The position pays an annual salary of $53,186 plus benefits.
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The Jordanelle Reservoir is at about 67% of its capacity, not the lowest its been but a level that officials say is concerning.