Summit County man, political newcomer, wants to lead Utah GOP |

Summit County man, political newcomer, wants to lead Utah GOP


A resident of the North Summit city of Henefer without political experience has submitted an application to become the Utah Republican Party’s top staffer.

Bryce Jones, a 47-year-old who has lived in Henefer for 20 years, wants to become the state party’s executive director. It is an influential position in the hierarchy of the state’s dominant political party. The executive director oversees the day-to-day operations of the party, focusing on elections and other critical matters.

Jones is an Army reservist and works in emergency management. He previously ran a storage and moving business in Weber County. Jones was a member of the National Guard for 18 years prior to the Army Reserve.

He said he has been a Republican his entire political life. He acknowledged, though, he has not dabbled in politics before. Jones said his proudest moment as a Republican was when Gov. Gary Herbert, the Republican governor of Utah, was named the chairman of the National Governors Association.

Jones said his top priority as the executive director of the state Republican Party would be to increase voter turnout among party members. He said he wants to educate people and said he does not like to learn that someone does not vote.

"Of the number of registered voters in Utah, how many voted," Jones said.

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He said another priority would be to increase the transparency of the Statehouse budget. The Republican Party holds the governor’s mansion, the state House of Representatives and the state Senate, meaning that the executive director would likely have a line of communication with the leadership of the state government.

Jones, meanwhile, said the Republican Party should be "open minded with your liberal neighbors because you can always strike a balance." He said he wants to "rub shoulders" with Democrats. He said he would like to learn from Democrats about the appeal of Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate.

He briefly addressed Summit County politics, one of the few places in the state where Democrats have a long tradition of electoral success, including holding four of the five seats on the Summit County Council.

Jones mentioned what was known as a gentlemen’s agreement in a previous political era in Summit County. It held that the three-person Summit County Commission would consist of one person from the Park City area, one person from South Summit and one person from North Summit. The gentlemen’s agreement was eventually broken and then made irrelevant when voters approved a change in the form of the Summit County government to a five-person County Council assisted by a county manager.

James Evans, the chairman of the state Republican Party, said on Tuesday Jones is the only person from Summit County who applied for the position. The party received 12 applications from people in Utah and from outside the state. Evans said the Republican Party wants to make a hiring decision by Wednesday. The person will succeed Julian Babbitt. He left the state party to become the leader of the Republican Party in Orange County, Calif.