<i>Park Record</i> offers endorsements and encouragement to get out and vote | ParkRecord.com

Park Record offers endorsements and encouragement to get out and vote

As of lunchtime Friday 2,689 Summit County voters had cast their ballots — but that leaves approximately 22,000 of you who have yet to make your voices heard in about 20 important federal, state, county and school district races.

The last time the county department heads were up for election (in 2010) 12,024 citizens voted, an impressive 48-percent turnout. But Summit County can do even better. With school board seats in all three districts up for grabs, two council members facing challenges, emotional debates surrounding the sheriff and attorney’s posts and a $25 million bond proposal for open space and recreation, all on Tuesday’s ballot, voters should be racing to the polls.

The argument has been made many times before but deserves repeating — the results of these local elections will directly impact residents’ lives — even more so than many of the federal election results. The candidates who are chosen will be faced with difficult decisions about education, air and water quality, transportation, emergency preparedness, public safety and the economy. It is therefore critical to participate.

There are four fine candidates running for two seats on the five-member Summit County Council. For Seat D, political newcomer Craig Williams is running on the Republican ticket against incumbent Democrat Chris Robinson. While Williams conducted a spirited, well-informed campaign, The Park Record endorsement goes to Robinson for his work on many interagency issues including the Mountain Accord initiative, which seeks to create a long-term plan for the central Wasatch Mountains. Robinson has been integral in encouraging regional conversations and agreements with neighboring counties and his drive to prepare the county for future growth pressures has been impressive. However, Williams’ perspective on the Tesoro pipeline was valuable, too, and even if he is not elected, we hope he will continue to offer his insights.

While all of the council members are elected at large, the candidate who assumes Seat E seems to have become the default representative for the East Side. Fortunately two genuine East Siders are running for that post: incumbent Republican David Ure and Democrat Sean Wharton.

Wharton, an East Side business owner and active member of the East Side Planning Commission has been vocal during the campaign about wanting more attention paid to economic development and other issues on the East Side — and he is right. The East Side is about to see an explosion of growth and needs to take action now to ensure strong land management guidelines are in place to handle those pressures. However, in view of his proven commitment and hard won relationships with diverse constituencies throughout the county, The Record endorses David Ure. We applaud Wharton, though, for being a constructive burr under Ure’s saddle during the campaign debates.

The competition surrounding the race to become the county’s next sheriff has stirred notably emotional conversations. After 12 years under an increasingly controversial leader, the sheriff’s office is trying to hit the right note between rigid law enforcement and a more diplomatic, progressive approach. We believe Justin Martinez, the department’s current No.2 in command, is the right person to maintain the progress made by the current sheriff while also addressing some of the criticisms that have consistently come to the surface.

To his credit, Republican candidate Kris Hendricksen has run a clean, civil campaign, even though others would have preferred a no-holds-barred confrontation. The challenge for both Martinez and Hendricksen now will be to help all of the officers and members of the community move forward by putting the campaign hatchets aside and working toward a more positive, unified department.

Some might have been surprised by the heat simmering beneath the county attorney’s race. But the post is a powerful one and the two candidates on the ballot bring very different temperaments to the table. The challenge for voters in that contest is how to weigh apples and oranges. Both Republican incumbent Dave Brickey and challenger Robert Hilder, a Democrat, have abundant legal skills — but in very different arenas.

David Brickey’s specialty is on the prosecutorial side of the office’s myriad responsibilities — the side that reinforces public safety by ensuring criminals are brought to justice, thereby lowering the local crime rate. Hilder’s expertise is on the civil side, which advises the council on financial and land-use policies and then helps to ensure those policies are enforceable. Both, though, have experience in all types of litigation and mediation so we will let voters weigh which skill set is more important.

A reminder, though, to those who would judge either candidate on hearsay: attorneys deal with people during the most stressful and tragic times of their lives and often both plaintiffs and defendants are unhappy with the outcomes. Regardless of the most politically expedient decision, a good attorney is bound, first and foremost, to follow the law.

In the auditor’s race, there are also two good, yet very different, candidates: Michael Howard, a Democrat who has worked in the courthouse before and Gary Shumway, a Republican, who has previously run for a council seat, lost, and is back again as a government watchdog who wants to bring some fresh perspectives to the office. Voters must choose for themselves between the one who is likely to pursue the status quo or someone who wants to shake things up a bit.

In the last three races, for treasurer, clerk and recorder, incumbents Corrie Forsling, Kent Jones and MaryAnn Trussell, respectively, have done exemplary work leading their departments through the recession and, more recently, picking up the pace with slimmer staffs and budgets. They each deserve to be re-elected.

The decisions are up to you. The polls will be open throughout the county on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you would like more information about each of the candidates and their platforms visit The Park Record Voter Guide at: parkrecord.com/vote2014

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