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More Dogs on Main Street

Tuesday is Election Day. I know you have been drowning in the frenzy of election fever all month, but I didn’t want the big day to slip by without comment. No kidding — there really is a primary election on Tuesday. There are some pretty hotly contested offices this year, not that you’d notice from the campaigns. Because we have a stupid system of partisan county races, you have to choose which party’s primary you vote in. I think the Democrat primary is technically open to anybody who wants to vote in it. But the Republicans have closed their primary, and only registered Republicans who know the secret handshake can get the Republican ballot. The end result is that you can’t pick and choose which races you want to vote on.

The other result is that the nutcase wing of the Republican Party has a greater say on public affairs than they really should. In most of Utah, the only race that matters is the Republican primary. So by closing the vote to only those who are among the party faithful, and holding the election in June when nobody is paying attention, they guarantee that they can continue to push Utah politics farther and farther to the extreme. That’s how we get the legislature that recently found $15 million for a parking garage at the state capitol, but was unable to come up with $2 million to fund dental care for people on Medicaid. Let them gum cake.

Dave Ure, who has been in the state House of Representatives from this district for many years, made the decision to run for the state Senate instead. I don’t know why, but that’s what he did. The Senate district is a larger geographic area, and includes the Uinta Basin (Vernal, Roosevelt, etc.) He’s got a very tough primary challenge. Dave is far more conservative than me, and if he were running for statewide office, I’d never vote for him in a million years. But as a legislator, he has been very willing to defend Summit County and Park City interests. He’s done an excellent job for this district, often taking positions that have caused him some grief in other areas he represents. So I’d love to be able to cast a vote in favor of Dave Ure’s bid to move to the state senate. But I’m not going to become a Republican, not even for the time it takes to cast a ballot. I suspect I’m not alone, so the end result of the closed primary is that Ure will be lucky to squeak through, and if the turnout in the West Side of the county is as low as it normally is for a primary, he may be back to milking cows by this time next week. Too bad.

The other hot race is between Ron Perry and Barbara Kresser for county assessor on the Democrat side of the ledger. I know them both, and like them both. I don’t really want to have to choose between them. Can’t they settle that with rock-paper-scissors?

Everybody wants to be county clerk. I don’t know why. It seems like a pretty uninspiring job, though it pays pretty well. I don’t think this will show up on the primary ballot, but there is a three-way race for November with Cindy LoPiccolo, Kent Jones, who used to be clerk and wants to do it again, and Kathy Dopp, whose main claim to fame is a justifiable skepticism about the new electronic voting machines. We’ll find out if they work in the primary. Though Dopp isn’t on the primary ballot, if there are enough glitches in the system, it could prove her concerns are valid and propel her into office in November.

So it’s probably worth taking the time to vote on Tuesday in whichever party has a race that catches your imagination. The way I look at it, the process of teaching all of us to use the new video-game voting machines ought to be pretty amusing, regardless of the outcome.

While we don’t have a system to recall elected officials in Utah, we do have a system for recalling vehicles. Every vehicle I’m connected with, except for the ’73 Dodge snowplow truck, has been recalled this month. Some of them are little things that I’ll get fixed if and when they break. Others are alarming and need attention. The steering mechanism on the Toyota truck could fall off. That got my attention. The cruise control on the Ford truck has been known to set the truck on fire while it’s parked in the garage. Somehow the sticking turn-signal lever on the VW doesn’t seem to matter as much. But they all have to go to the dealers, which is a big effort.

The automakers whine about the expense of the recalls, but the dealerships are masters at turning it into a profit center. "As long as we have that radiator cap off, under warranty, don’t you think it would be a good time to replace the engine? It’s the same labor, and the factory is paying for part of it. That transmission looks greasy, too, we might as well replace that while the car is on the lift." So it’s been an expensive week. The Toyota guy wanted to put $800 worth of shock absorbers on the truck. "They have a lifetime guarantee," he said. The truck is 14 years old, has 140,000 miles on it, and is on life support already. I think the shocks are OK.

There isn’t a system for "correcting" defective politicians. Nobody has the ability to "recall" George Bush to the factory for a few adjustments, though even the Republicans would like to do some tinkering with him here and there. Congress has quit functioning — as useless as a old truck up on blocks behind the barn. It would be great if we’d get a notice in the mail to bring them back to the dealership for repairs. But it doesn’t work that way. The only chance to fix things is the election process, and that starts on Tuesday.


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