House member drops hints about Commission bid
With less than a week before people can declare their candidacies for federal, state and county offices, a 14-year veteran of the state House of Representatives hinted Tuesday that he is considering other political ventures, possibly including a bid for the Summit County Commission.
But Kamas Republican David Ure wouldn’t comment about which office he would seek in 2006. Since 1992, he has represented much of Summit County in House District 53.
"Many doors are opening and closing and it’s just like ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ you’ve got to get behind the right door at the right time," Ure said during a telephone interview.
Terms for Democratic Summit County Commissioners Bob Richer and Ken Woolstenhulme expire this year.
"There are many doors starting to open up," Ure said when asked if he would oppose Richer or Woolstenhulme for a County Commission seat in November.
He did not rule out a campaign for the top county elected office.
"I am about 99 percent sure I am going to be running somewhere," said Ure, who is a dairy farmer in South Summit who is in his 50s.
The representative wouldn’t elaborate, but Election Day in Summit County could be interesting if he ends up challenging Richer, one of Ure’s past political rivals.
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. The current House district also includes constituents in rural Daggett, Rich, Morgan and Wasatch counties.
The $51,000 salary plus benefits commissioners receive is perhaps enticing. State representatives receive no salary and are paid just more than $120 per day while working on Capitol Hill.
Last week, Richer declared that he would seek a second term and Woolstenhulme says he’s "leaning toward" running again.
But with Summit County named as a defendant in an unprecedented number of lawsuits, Ure, having served both sides of the county in the House, may have the political clout necessary to unseat one of the first-term incumbents.
However, Republicans haven’t fared well in County Commission races since Park City resident Eric Schifferli became the last member of the GOP to win a seat on the board, in 1998. In 2002, Woolstenhulme defeated Snyderville Republican Dave Allen and write-in Democrat Patrick Cone in the race for seat B on the board, while Richer trounced Coalville Republican Merlyn Johnson in the contest for seat A.
A testy campaign in 2004 pitted Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott, a Park City Democrat, against Snyderville Republican Stephen Osguthorpe. Overwhelming support from the more heavily populated West Side propelled Elliott to victory, but she lost to Osguthorpe everywhere in eastern Summit County.
"I doubt very seriously whether Republicans can ever win in Summit County," former Summit County GOP chair Randy Ovard told The Park Record following Osguthorpe’s defeat.
Ure, however, has made friends in western Summit County while fighting to establish programs for illegal immigrants living in the state. In the late 1990s, he sponsored a bill that allowed undocumented people to receive Utah driver licenses.
Though lawmakers revoked that right last year, Ure was pivotal in a 2005 discussion that resulted in the creation of Utah’s driving privilege card for undocumented residents. The cards cannot be used as government identification but still allow recipients to drive.
Meanwhile, Ure irked his constituents in 2000 when he sponsored a bill for Questar that made it easier for utilities to raise rates and eliminated one of the state’s consumer watchdogs. According to news reports at the time, lawmakers quashed the bill before it could take effect.
Ure, often a critic of House mannerisms, has long argued that all legislators should be more involved in the lawmaking process. He says the strength of the House rests with its rank-and-file members.
Though extremely popular among his rural constituents, Ure has lacked the same popularity in western Summit County.
And twice Ure has vied for the powerful speaker of House position. Former Rep. Marty Stephens, a Republican from Weber County, defeated Ure for the top leadership position in 2002. In 2004, House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, beat out Ure to lead the legislative body.
Summit County Democrats, however, have never posed a threat for Ure. He trounced Silver Creek Democrat Rob Weyher in a 2002 House race and easily outdistanced Coalville Democrat Laura Bonham in 2004.
Two County Commission seats, seven elected department head positions in Summit County, a congressional and U.S. Senate race are all on the ballot in 2006. Election Day is Nov. 7 and the filing window for people to declare their candidacies opens March 7 and closes at 5 p.m. on March 17.
Contact the Summit County Clerk’s Office at 615-3203 for information about how to file.
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