Kent Jones | ParkRecord.com
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Kent Jones

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Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.

As of the date of this article, I have never met my opponent, so I know very little about her. I suspect there are two main differences, being her concern about the security and integrity of the new voting machines, and having no previous experience in local government. I have met with and personally know most of the elected clerks throughout the state, and know of the training and testing that has gone into preparing this equipment for use. I am confident in their decision. There were concerns early in the development of the touch-screen equipment and programming and procedures have been put in place to address those concerns. The ability to upgrade and change programming when new issues arise will also prove invaluable.

Having been the county clerk before is a benefit for me in that I already understand and know my responsibilities. Records maintenance, budget, voting boundaries, and commission minutes are duties familiar to me, unknown to her. I have support of other elected officials and county employees making the day-to-day tasks of the office a team effort, not departments working on an individual basis.

I m excited about the opportunity to return and thank all those supporting me.

1. Summit County Clerk Sue Follett decided not to audit results from the county s new touch-screen electronic voting machines during the primary election in June. As clerk, would you audit future election results? Why or why not?

As with any new system implementation, there will be some legitimate concerns about accuracy, security and integrity of the equipment. I know the county clerks throughout the state, along with the Lt. Governor s Office and staff, have gone through many hours of deliberation, training and testing of the equipment. They already have a comfort level. The voting public is seeing and using the system for the first time. They still need to gain that comfort level. I would conduct a simple audit to prove the results accurate and right. It does not have to be a complicated process, but enough to satisfy critics.

Time and use will give voters confidence in the equipment and audits for every future election would not be needed. But the first couple of times, a simple audit gives both voters and election officials confidence in the entire election process.

2. To comply with the Help America Vote Act, Summit County recently purchased Diebold touch-screen voting machines. The machines were used for the first time in the 2006 primary election in June. How secure should voters feel that the controversial machines accurately record their ballots?

Voters should have confidence in the new touch-screen system. The development of the machines started several years ago with demonstrations and input from election officials nationwide. The election process may vary somewhat from state to state, but every clerk in every jurisdiction lives and dies by the accuracy and integrity of their work.

Every imaginable question and concern has been expressed and every imaginable situation has been talked about by thousands of election officials in group sessions with programmers and manufacturers. It is not an individual effort. The decisions made and the equipment chosen are a result of the best technology available. Does that guarantee someone won t attempt to break into a machine. No. But it can t be done without detection, and a process in place with a chain of responsibility from clerks, to election judges, to security, can guarantee voters accuracy of the results.

3. What is your opinion about a proposal to change the current three-member Summit County Commission to a five-member county council with an appointed manager?

I am against the proposed change. The three-member commission is responsible to all citizens in the county and accountable for their own decisions. Changing to an appointed manager gives total control and decision making to one person. The five-member commission now becomes ineffective and powerless because all they are responsible for is direction and policy. The manager is an at-will employee and subject to termination at any time he is at odds with five different opinions. Every county that has changed their form of government did so with the belief it would solve current existing problems. The actual result is problems still have to be dealt with, issues still have to be resolved, and adding additional layers of government between the people and decision makers significantly increase costs, budgets, and response time. My opinion is the proposed change becomes a pass-the-buck form of government because accountability is lost.

4. Please explain attempts made this year by the Utah Legislature to change Utah s Government Records Access and Management Act. How does the Summit County Clerk s Office use this set of statutes?

GRAMA is intended to allow access to government records whereby information can be requested and reviewed. The legislative changes were to clarify language so the purpose of the requests must be regarding how government works, operates and decisions were made, not to invade the personal privacy of elected officials or the public. For example, in the clerk s office, when a person registers to vote, name, address, phone number and possibly driver license and Social Security numbers could become part of the official election register. It is not intended to become a list for commercial mailings, business contacts, or junk mail simply because an individual registered to vote. The Legislature attempted to make a better definition of what is public record, and what is personal invasion.

5. Besides serving as the county s chief elections officer, what other duties are performed by the Summit County clerk?

The clerk is the records maintenance officer for commission minutes, county ordinances, resolutions and contracts. Also, marriage licenses are executed and stored in the office and business licenses are processed, issued and renewed each year. You are clerk of the county commission. As election officer, the clerk maintains voter registration rolls, determines voter precinct boundaries, prepares, conducts and tabulates all elections held in the county. This includes federal, state, county and municipal elections, bond elections and special service district elections. The clerk executes all deeds and conveyances approved by the legislative body and administers oaths. As a county department head, prepares and works within an approved budget and supervises staff employees. The clerk can perform marriage ceremonies and works closely with other elected officials.

6. As part of a discussion about whether the form of government in Summit County should change, citizens considered whether positions of officials currently elected by voters should be appointed. Should voters continue to choose the Summit County clerk? Why or why not?

Definitely yes. Voting is your individual voice in local government. The more distance created between citizens and decisions being made, allows control and power to be transferred to a limited number of people. As an elected official, I am responsible to the voting public. If appointed, I only answer to a supervisor. Voting is the right of individuals to help choose their leaders and then still have contact with them after taking office. Anyone who thinks their vote is insignificant should look back and review the margin of victory in many local races. The vote you cast or fail to cast, may be the difference in your candidate winning or losing. Voters become indifferent some years and very active other years, depending on issues, but if their right to vote for and choose their leaders is taken away, it will likely never be given back. None of us wants that.

7. One candidate in this race has served as Summit County clerk in the past. The other has no government experience. How should voters consider the candidates resumes when making their decisions?

I believe we must know where we have been to know where we are going. There have been many changes in the four years since I was county clerk, and I have no intention to go back in time to old procedures or thinking. I am excited to work with new technology and equipment, and continue changing and updating and improving office procedures. The knowledge and experience I have from the past will help me to make better decisions for the future, and better direction than starting from scratch. The contacts I still have with other county officials statewide will immediately be a benefit for continuing forward. My knowledge and experience is definitely an advantage in understanding and knowing procedure and the working of local government, but I also believe much of the support I have comes from what I can bring to the position for the future.

8. A controversial discussion in the county recently concerned the cost to receive a business license. Please explain your philosophy about what the fairest way would be to assess license fees to businesses that come in different shapes and sizes.

The responsibility of government is to provide service to its citizens. This service comes in many forms, from health requirements, law enforcement, fire protection, roads, utilities, education, infrastructure, etc. There are costs to provide all these services. The state statute requires that the government entity cannot use business licenses as a revenue generator, so the determining factor in assessing a fair license fee is to know how businesses impact services. Obviously, there are in-home and small businesses that have very little need, all the way to huge operations that require nearly constant service. An affordable starting fee should be set for low-impact businesses and a multiplier determined according to services provided that covers costs and complies with state code. The volume of people that pass through the doors of a business on a monthly or yearly basis is a good indicator of how much service they expect government to provide.


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