Nick Coleman (R) – Summit County Clerk
Nick Coleman (Republican)
Summit County Clerk
Question 1: What are your qualifications to run for county clerk and why do you want to serve?
I am a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with extensive experience in both government and business sectors. I’ve held several high-profile positions such as running computer systems for the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon and tracking nuclear weapon deployment at the Defense Special Weapons Agency. Post-military, I was Chief Operations Officer for several startup technology companies with a focus on performing organizational turn-around and improving business operations.
I currently work as a Park City Realtor and understand the heartbeat of Summit County and all that makes our county tick. As I’ve been on the campaign trail over the past few months, many people have commented that the Clerk’s Office is not rocket science and they don’t understand why we have out-of-date voter records and problems with our physical election process. I want to use my experience in business operations to implement best practices for an office within Summit County government that is in dire need of an update. I believe public service is an important component of the American experience and feel my skills match the current needs of the office to improve and enhance county services.
Question 2: Did the county clerk’s office do the right thing by issuing same sex marriage certificates during the brief time when Utah’s ban on gay marriage was stayed by a judge?
Yes. The duties of the clerk are clearly outlined in the Utah Code and as the law changes, so do the responsibilities of the office holder. If the Legislature or Courts decide in the future that same sex-marriage certificates are to be issued, I will issue them.
Recently, a court ruled that same-sex marriage licenses should be issued. In Summit County there was an extended delay from the time of the judge’s order to the time we complied and issued those certificates. I believe my opponent should have been more proactive in determining a proper course of action for an issue that impacts so many lives in Summit County. My commitment is to work hard to protect the interests of every stakeholder in the community and execute those duties in a timely fashion.
Editor’s note: This question was asked before the Supreme Court declined to hear Utah’s appeal of the 10th Circuit Court’s decision to overturn Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages.
Question 3: Are the county’s business license fees appropriate for both home-based and larger commercial businesses?
The recent 66 percent increase in license fees for businesses was inappropriate. I believe county government has a responsibility to live within its means and to be respectful of the budgets of those it serves. In an economy where wage gains have been subdued, all of the Summit County Offices have a responsibility to keep costs down on all businesses to foster new company formation and economic growth. Reducing the cost and time required to start a business in Summit County should be a top priority of the Clerk’s Office. If we work hard to keep costs down and red tape to a minimum, Summit County will have the pick of new and relocating businesses with high-paying and low-impact jobs.
Question 4: Should Utah switch to mail-in voting and how do you feel about the current voter identification rules – too strict or too loose?
The goal of every County Clerk in Utah should be 100-percent voter participation. My commitment is to make it convenient for every Summit County citizen to vote … this includes supporting Vote Mail.
Some members of the community will find voter ID rules to be difficult or unfair, so it is the job of the Clerk’s Office to provide input to our Legislators to reduce obstacles. I will take input from all the stakeholders in the county and help educate members of the Legislature on our experience in Summit County to ensure maximum valid voter participation.
The Summit County Clerk’s Office can protect against the common incidences of voter fraud by constantly updating voting information and vote-by-mail records, but it requires hard work and innovation. The failure to develop processes to maintain accurate voter records in Summit County is one of the causes of laws requiring IDs.
Question 5: Utah is considering changing its caucus process to allow more participation in narrowing the field of primary candidates. Where do you stand on that?
The caucus system has been an effective means for increasing local participation in elections. Instead of an election that requires spending large amounts of money and winners are determined by which politician has the best TV ads, it forces candidates to meet with voters and be judged on the merit of their actions and positions. It keeps costs down and provides opportunity for any citizen to run for office not just the rich or those funded by lobbyists.
But, there are recent issues where candidates took advantage of the caucus system’s open architecture. I believe we should try to enhance the caucus system and keep it in place, but reforms are needed. It would be productive to form a working group outside of the political process to make recommendations to both parties to solve the problem, because the caucus system in Utah is valuable.
Question 6: Please differentiate your platform from your opponent’s.
My platform is simple. There is sufficient technology available today at little or no cost that would allow the county clerk to provide a much richer, more responsive customer experience to everyone in Summit County. I want to use my experience in technology and business operations to implement best practices in an office that needs to bring itself up to the 21st Century. After 26 years on the job, there is simply no excuse for outdated voter records or substantial numbers of spoiled ballots every election.
If given the opportunity to serve as your Summit County Clerk, I will make every effort to make the voting experience as seamless and accessible as possible. I will meet with county and state leaders to share our experiences and work together with them to create voter and business registration laws that are more accommodative to our busy lives. After 26 years in the same office, my opponent has failed to keep up with technology that would drive down cost and enhance usability of the clerk’s services. I believe that county offices should deliver value in the same way that Utah businesses must in order to keep their customers happy. It’s a service business.
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Court report: Week of June 22