The candidates that could win the race for Utah County Commissioner A

by John Mulholland

With Greg Graves engrossed in controversy and not seeking reelection, the race for Utah County Commission Seat A is wide open for these candidates.

Tanner Ainge

Tanner has a law degree from Northwestern University. He is a business advisor. He has enjoyed his time in Utah County and sees the potential for tremendous success. There is a highly educated workforce and a powerful private sector, which conservative policies allow for. Strong families and churches have to lead to strong upward mobility. He wants to enable the private sector to keep growing. He wants to have a diverse economy beyond just technology, including manufacturing, services, and agriculture.

Tanner Ainge and his family

Tanner is concerned about the opioid epidemic and wants to see more people treated instead of being sent to jail. He wants to strengthen programs like drug court. He sees roads becoming much more of a problem. He is glad to see the Thanksgiving Point interchange getting worked on and would like to see more arterial and connecting roads, especially around Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs. He is hoping that the BRT on University Avenue will be finished soon and bring needed relief to the traffic.

When asked about the very negative campaigning he participated in during his run for Congress, he said he has no appetite for it.


Karen Ellingson

Karen has served in various volunteer positions for nearly ten years in Springville, including library board, planning commission, and the board of adjustments. She also worked for Provo City including the mayor’s office. She has a Masters in public administration and a bachelors degree in health science. She is a planner and realizes that plans have ripple effects. She believes that part of making decisions is asking what are those ripples really going to mean and what are we willing to pay for. You need a balanced perspective to understand how it will actually affect people.

Karen Ellingson

Karen said that county issues are very similar to local ones. Budgets, county services, and transportation will all be affected by massive growth. As the county grows, cities will continue to annex unincorporated parts of the county. Long range plans need to be continuously reviewed and updated.

She would like to see more cooperation between the commission and cities, as well as better communication between the commissioners and realizes that it is hard with the fact that in many cases two make a quorum. She hasn’t found a solution yet but it still looking. She favors extending the commission, if doing so will break up some of the power, improve leadership and decision making, and provide better governance. She would consider more members and moving them part time.


Russ Billings

Russ is a Provo police officer and a detective on the major crimes task force. He has worked in the private sector but enjoys serving on the police force more. He is a lifelong resident of Provo, protecting the citizens for 25 years, and wants to continue to serve in a new way.

Russ Billings

He is concerned about the infrastructure, such as sewers and water, and wants to ensure intercity cooperation as things grow. He also wants to ensure that unincorporated area projects are well managed. He cautions about things being too hasty and wants time for plenty of public input. Things need to be carefully planned out.

He is also concerned about mental health and drug addiction, especially around opioids. He wants to enhance and grow programs like drug court as counseling is more effective than incarceration.

Some have mentioned a false arrest lawsuit in Provo for an arrest Russ was involved in over 20 years ago. Russ said that even though the city lost the suit, he maintains he acted properly and that he had the full support of the chief and city attorney.


James Dixon

James has been a resident of Lehi for 27 years. He served on the planning commission from 1996 to 2000 and then served 12 years on the city council. He spent 32 years as a jeweler, but went back to school and got and Masters Degree in Public Administration. He now works for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

James said that his experience uniquely qualifies him. His background is heavy in planning and zoning and he talked about some of the road planning Lehi did to prepare for growth. The city set aside transportation corridors such as 2100 North and Pioneer Crossing. These have been expanded and will continue to change with the growth.

Regarding preservation of open space, the city gave density bonuses to developers that left 20% open space and some other requirements. The city didn’t have to pay for the land.
Experience has taught him that you can make great plans and some even happen! He also learned that there are occasionally unintended consequences you have to watch out for.


Thomas Sakievich

Tom has 38 years with the marine corp, 8 as an unpaid advisor. He originally enlisted but returned after going through officer school. He has worked in many different positions while participating in all the dirt, including executive officer of a company and camp commandant.

He trained Iraqis to go into Fallujah. Also, some of the 3000 he trained were injured in the attack, none were killed. He has also combined and consolidated commands and worked with counter-drug forces in Central and South America. He retired and moved to Utah in 2006.

He sees growth as the big issue. He has planned similar things in the marines. He thinks BRT was premature and wonders if UTA is going to be able to pay back the county for their portion. He isn’t sure that we know where we want things and wants to make sure that the plans are consolidated and unified. He said that you have to be careful with information, as even some departments have things wrong.

Liked it? Take a second to support Utah.Politico.Hub on Patreon!

Related posts