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LAWRENCE TAKES MERGER ISSUE TO UTAH’S TOP COURT

SHARE LAWRENCE TAKES MERGER ISSUE TO UTAH’S TOP COURT

Davis County Commissioner Dub Lawrence, seeking to keep alive his campaign against consolidation of the county clerk and auditor offices, has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Utah Supreme Court.

The writ petition, filed late Friday, asks the state justices to order County Clerk Margene Isom to accept his blank petition copies for official numbering prior to his circulating them for signatures.Lawrence contends he had up to 150 days before the November 1990 general election to collect the 6,900 signatures needed to place the consolidation proposal before county voters.

But based on an opinion issued by the county attorney's office, Isom has refused to recognize the petitions. She argues that Lawrence had to have the signatures gathered within 30 days of when the ordinance was passed to make the referendum valid.

Lawrence's petition is tentatively scheduled for consideration by the state Supreme Court Jan. 2.

County commissioners, in a 2-1 vote on Sept. 6, approved the ordinance merging the clerk and auditor offices, effective January 1991.

Based on the county attorney's opinion, Lawrence and his supporters would have had to have the petitions signed and certified by Oct. 6 to hold the merger in abeyance until the November 1990 election.

County Attorney Mel Wilson thinks the court will uphold his opinion.

"We feel confident that we'll prevail on the matter," he said. "Always those things are subject to court interpretation, but we do have some case law that supports our interpretation. I'm glad to see it finally being brought to a head, one way or another."

Commissioners Bill Peters and Gayle Stevenson favored the office consolidation as a logical step toward streamlining county government and making it more cost-effective.

Lawrence has opposed the move, saying it weakens the system of checks and balances within county government.