Sheriff already has Democratic challenger
Candidates have until March 17 to decide whether to seek political office but a Kamas Valley Democrat has already emerged to challenge Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds next year. "It’s definitely going to be a high-profile race," Kamas police officer Scott Mark told The Park Record Wednesday. "I’ll bet you I’m not the only one that runs. I’m hearing rumors, two or three more other guys are probably looking at running also."
A retired Salt Lake City police officer, Mark has worked in Kamas since 1999 and decided about a year ago to oppose Edmunds in 2006. "I’m decided, I’ve already been at the County Clerk’s Office and got everything that I need," Mark said. "I’m very well known in the Kamas Valley but I’m not so well known over in the Park City area I want to make absolutely sure that people know who I am and what I’m all about."
Edmunds, however, has likely made a name for himself over the last three years. Though he expects to have an opponent on next November’s ballot, the Republican sheriff says he would be "shocked" if a challenger emerges from the ranks of the Sheriff’s Office. "I think there is a sentiment out there that doesn’t care for my style," Edmunds conceded. "I think it’s a very small portion of the community and I think [Mark] is going to find that out very quickly."
Voters have embraced some significant changes made at the Sheriff’s Office since he was elected in 2002, Edmunds said, adding, "we have a lot of political capital and I think we’ve earned every ounce of it."
"We are issuing more warnings and citations than we have ever issued before," the sheriff said. "We have successfully altered the culture up here."
But Edmunds has made enemies in the process. "If [Mark] is running simply to throw mud on Dave Edmunds, or he’s running because there is a group of malcontents that dislike Dave Edmunds, he’s certainly running for the wrong reasons," the sheriff said. A Coalville woman recently sued Edmunds for his alleged abusive treatment when deputies responded to her house a few years ago. The case is pending in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. "I don’t think this [lawsuit] as any merit whatsoever and I think it will be quickly thrown out of court," Edmunds said. When he squeaked by Democrat Joe Offret in the 2002 general election at age 30, Edmunds, a former Park City police officer and Utah Highway Patrol trooper, became one of the youngest sheriffs in Utah. Mark, however, intends to start campaigning against him next week. "I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think I’d beat Sheriff Edmunds," Mark said. He wouldn’t discuss his political platform or areas where Edmunds’ campaign might be weak. "Let’s just leave the issues alone for right this moment," Mark said. The Francis resident has worked for the two-man Kamas Police Department since around the time Errik Ovard took over as police chief in the city about six years ago. "This will alter neither the way we do business nor the way I politic," Edmunds said about the early campaigning. "I will get back out on the campaign trail and I will start aggressively doing the things that I do as quickly as in the next week or two." Under his watch, deputies’ response times have decreased by two-thirds thanks to patrol zones he set up after promising the change to voters, Edmunds said. "We have absolutely done everything that I said we were going to do," he said.
This year, Edmunds requested hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Summit County Commission to hire about six new deputies. The budget decision is pending and he claims his department’s caseload has increased 62 percent since 2002. The Sheriff’s Office yearly budget is about $6.5 million. "I would encourage anyone and everyone who is qualified to run for this job to get out here if they can do a better job," Edmunds said. "I know I’m the best person for this job."
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A public hearing regarding Summit County’s $50 million open space bond is scheduled Wednesday in Coalville. Officials hope to hear from those who live on the East Side.