With Commissioner Tanner Ainge stepping down mid-term to serve in the Cox Administration, candidates have lined up for the chance to replace him on the Utah County Commission. Because Ainge was nominated and elected as a Republican, the Utah County GOP Central Committee will select his replacement. The central committee consists of Republican precinct chairs and vice-chairs. As there are only 3 commissioners, this is a very important race. Websites, phone numbers, and YouTube videos for the candidates can be found at the Utah County Republican Party site. The vote will take place during the Utah County Convention, April 24th.
Amelia is our current county clerk auditor. While in that position she has greatly improved both our elections and the office by focusing on what was most important. She said the county hasn’t been big on training budgets so she had only a few employees do training and then come back and teach others.
When asked about the tax increase, Amelia said that the county had been running a deficit for several years and she wanted to fix that. Her budget did go up that year, but it always does for a presidential election. She was able to have 72% or the budget in 2019 and 50% in 2020 come from state, federal, and private grants. This also included all of the election equipment.
When asked about COVID-19, Amelia explained that the county never shut down businesses and our unemployment was 3% less than that of Salt Lake City. She is immuno-compromised and some of her employees have health risks. She was appalled last year when a bunch of anti-mask protestors, invited by Commissioner Lee, overran a commissioner meeting and the meeting had to be suddenly stopped. Amelia said they were cursing right at her employees and she had to pull them out. She added that she probably agreed with them in principle but we need to learn how to disagree better.
Regarding the recent claims of potential sexual harassment, the alleged victim has actually endorsed Amelia in this race. There was an issue during the 2020 election and the employee was concerned so went to HR. HR, the employee, and Amelia all considered the issue resolved and had moved forward on good terms.
There are a lot of questions as to who sent this to the press and if it was leaked despite a closed-door session where it was discussed.
(Disclaimer – my daughter worked for the Clerk’s office this last summer during the primary election)
Rod is currently in the last year of his term as the mayor of Highland and isn’t planning on running again. He has been able to work with the commissioners and see things he would do differently.
Rod isn’t running on any particular issue but believes strongly in transparency, communication, long-term planning, and avoiding contention. He frequently posts articles online such as how to influence a city council member and holds Meet with the Mayor sessions to have citizens meet with various elected officials. Rod feels that this communication is critical to bring people along. He thinks the tax increase and Proposition 9 would have been much smoother if this had been done.
Rod believes it is difficult to influence people when you attack them. You can’t effectively work with those who have strong opinions and be polarizing.
When asked how to deal with false information, he said to send out the correct information and let people decide. When asked about how to hold elected officials accountable Rod said you have to do that through your vote. Rod said the biggest problem, aside from the tragic loss of life, has been divisiveness.
Howard loves living in Utah. Provo was recently ranked as the best place to live in the country. He immediately went into what all of the other commissioners had done and were doing wrong. He said they shouldn’t have doubled the tax rate (they didn’t).
When asked what he wanted to do, he kept going after previous commissioners. He did say that more people meant more taxes and we shouldn’t need to raise them. He didn’t have any specifics to cut.
Robert is a veteran software engineer and software startup CEO. He saw jumping into the race as an opportunity to do some good. He is currently working on a startup but had previously worked for companies like WordPerfect.
Robert bought some property in Benjamin to raise his kids and tried to develop it. He has experienced 17 years of roadblocks and has finally been able to sell some of the lots. He even built Miracle Road and gave it to the county.
Robert enjoys reading books by Benson, Ron Paul, Lou Rockwell, and Skousen. He said that there are thousands of old stale regulations that need to be reviewed and many gotten rid of. He also builds websites for people to use like rhymer.com, writeexpress.com, and invent.me
Walter has run his own business for 43 years, Advance Insurance. He also built Parcell construction. Walter supported prop 9 and thinks we should have more commissioners. The county is growing really fast and he would like to see the taxing method changed so rates aren’t automatically raised when housing prices increase.
Walter has a goal to balance our budget without raising taxes but doesn’t have any specifics yet.
Ethan is a local businessman that runs Allen’s Camera. He has wanted to run for a long time and with his brother handling more of the business, he can. Ethan has seen various levels of quality with commissioners and candidates so he jumped in.
He is concerned that the county has been running a deficit and understands how inflation has reduced the spending power of the county revenue. He cares very much about the employees, especially our sheriffs. Ethan said he is more independent as he doesn’t have any financial backers.
When asked about COVID-19, he thought that we did the best with what we knew but mistakes were made. He said the extra federal money has been nice but there will be a bill to pay for it. Ethan did wear a mask and still got sick. But those that work with him didn’t.
Steve was previously elected in 2002 and served two terms. He talked a lot about his previous time on the commission and things that he was able to accomplish with the other commissioners.
Steve said that the county should be funding things piece by piece instead of all at once. You have to learn how to say no. The tax increase has really hurt office building holders. He said that recent and current commissioners don’t know how to say no.
When asked about COVID-19, he thought Utah County did an adequate response.
Chris is no stranger to politics. He has run for office many times and served in the state legislature for a few years. Chris currently works various jobs including mortgages, car trading, and real estate projects, to provide for his family. When asked about why he is running, he said that he said that half of the job is legislative and he has served in the state legislature previously.
Chris is concerned about the hangover when all of the federal COVID-19 money is gone. He does think that much of the county tax increase can be rolled back because of the money. But he acknowledged that taxes would probably need to be raised again after that money was gone.
During COVID-19, Chris was glad that Utah County never had a mask mandate. He thinks that the elderly should have been given the N95 masks as they are more vulnerable.
He also thinks that the other two commissioners should have talked to the clerk before moving the budget director from under her to under them. You can’t let others frame your message.
Chris declined to be interviewed over the phone as he couldn’t spend the time but offered to answer questions via email.
Spending a bit of time on Chris’s Facebook page, you can see that he promoted the false narratives of the election being stolen and that it was really Antifa and BLM that stormed the Capitol.