Weyher faces assault charge
Summit County Democratic Party chair Rob Weyher was charged in Third District Court Tuesday with assault against a police officer, interfering with an arrest and driving under the influence of alcohol, but this week, local Democrats stood by their embattled leader.
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper arrested Weyher, 54, April 25, after pulling him over for allegedly speeding near Kimball Junction. According to court documents, it took three officers to place Weyher in handcuffs. The suspect was also charged with speeding and failing to signal.
"[Weyher] continued to be uncooperative using vulgar language while making various demands," court information filed by Summit County prosecutor Gus Chin states. "He also kicked at the officers as they tried to place him into [the trooper’s] vehicle."
But, according to Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier, who is also a member of the County Democratic Party Central Committee, "he’s innocent until proven guilty."
The Central Committee voted unanimously during a meeting Monday to continue supporting Weyher as chairman of the party.
"[Weyher’s] a grown man who should know better, but I’m not a perfect person," Frazier said.
Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said, "I think we can give him some direction that would enable him to carry on for nine months without crucifying the guy."
Leadership elections are scheduled for the party in 2007.
But, Pinebrook resident Ron Perry, a Democrat running for the Summit County assessor post, is concerned the charges against Weyher could result in a black eye for Democratic candidates.
"I thought the Central Committee was looking at replacing [Weyher]," Perry said during a telephone interview Monday. "Any time that leadership is put in a compromise situation, it doesn’t look good for any political party."
But Perry doesn’t expect Weyher to resign as chairman.
"Until somebody is proven guilty, I don’t think it would be appropriate for him to do that," Perry added.
Perry’s opponent in the June 27 Democratic primary is incumbent Summit County Assessor Barbara Kresser, who voted Monday as a Central Committee member to retain Weyher as chair.
Meanwhile, Weyher’s organizational skills concern Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott more than the accusations against him.
"One of the duties of the Democratic Party chair should be to be able to organize and conduct meetings," Elliott said. "The caucus, at least the one [in Park City] was very poorly done the convention left much to be desired."
Democrats vying for elected offices in Summit County could use help from the party, she added.
"[Bob Richer] needs some help and [Laura Bonham] needs some help and [Kresser] needs some help," Elliott said.
However, along with invigorating Democrats in Summit County who used to meet just once a year, Weyher has perhaps raised more money for the party than any local chairman in history, Frazier said.
Seen as a political insider, Weyher accurately predicted last year that Republican state Sen. Beverly Evans would not seek re-election.
Also, Summit County Republican Jim Shea Jr. withdrew from the Statehouse election after Weyher questioned whether Shea met Utah’s residency requirements based on the former candidate’s voting record in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"To remove [Weyher] because he was accused of something would be a fallacy in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty," Elliott said. "If we do decide to retain him we need to have serious organizational help for him because that is a skill that he does not have."
The Democratic Central Committee voted 8-0 to retain Weyher as chairman. Voting members included: Susan Follett, Richard Sheinberg, Sally Elliott, Blake Frazier, Ken Woolstenhulme, Barbara Kresser, Ken Kresser and Laura Bonham.
"I’m very thankful for the support of all the people," Weyher said during an interview following the vote.
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