New meaning to ‘seven-year itch’
The 2014 municipal and county elections just got bigger.
In order to stagger the selection of county officers, Rep. Derek Brown, R-Salt Lake City, sponsored House Bill 103 that became law this month. It calls for all county treasurers, assessors, recorders and surveyors to run for six-year terms in 2014 instead of the traditional four years. In 2020, all offices will return to four-year terms.
Currently, all of Summit County’s seven elected department heads come up for election at once. Under new legislation, those officers would serve staggered four-year terms with the clerk, attorney, auditor and sheriff posts on one ballot and the treasurer, assessor and recorder on another ballot two years later.
Brown said he did not find anything unusual about this strategy. Several counties currently grant six-year terms for various offices, and U.S. senators are elected for six years.
Summit County has no elected surveyor, but its treasurer, recorder and assessor all said a six-year term would be no big deal.
Treasurer Corrie Kirklen said she was planning to run again in 2014.
"I campaigned on a series of important issues last year, and I expect the voters to hold my feet to the fire on those issues. But I would expect that regardless of the length of the term," she said.
Kirklen also said she supports the staggering.
"This gives the voters a greater opportunity to make educated decisions about the votes they cast," she said.
Recorder Alan Spriggs said he, too, was planning to seek re-election.
One concern he had was that it would put his cycle on that of the presidential election. National issues tend to influence voters in all races those years, he said. Other than that, Spriggs thought the change would have little impact.
"It wouldn’t bother me either way," he said. "This is fairly commonly done."
Assessor Steve Martin said the change will push his retirement back two years, but he would adjust.
Martin said a longer term means less to officials like Kirklen, Spriggs and himself because they administer, not write, policy. They work on one-year cycles and are judged by how well they execute their duties.
That was sort of the idea, Rep. Brown explained.
"We said, ‘Let’s have it be the positions that tend to be less controversial and not high-profile,’" he said. "The offices that tend to not be as well known."
His original draft of the bill called for the opposite: to stagger the clerk, attorney, sheriff and auditor elections. Brown said there was no rhyme or reason to what he suggested.
Martin said he thought there was; placing some elections on the presidential cycle was intentional.
"It’s just politics," he said.
UPCOMING COUNTY ELECTIONS
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