C. Robert Collins, an American Fork resident, is running for Utah County attorney because he says he wants to bring proper management of governmental resources to county officials.
His announcement is already causing political party wars.Collins, attorney for the Utah County Democratic Party, is seeking the democratic nomination for the seat being vacated by Steve Killpack.
Republicans and many Democrats have told Collins that a Democrat cannot win an election in Utah County, but "I believe that the people of this county will vote for the person with the best background and experience over party considerations, especially when they understand the problems that the one-party system has created for Utah County."
Utah County has suffered as a result of the gradual move from a two-party system to one-party Republican rule, he said. "The public will be better served and justice insured if the county returns to the checks and balances of a two-party system."
He said he has already experienced the abuse of the one-party system when Killpack, a Republican, contacted Collins' law associate and asked him to file for the same position.
Collins shared office space with Dean W. Payne until he filed for the county attorney position several hours after Collins filed April 13. Up until that point, Payne supported and encouraged Collins to run for the position, he said.
The candidate has moved his law practice to temporary offices "to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing."
Payne has said Killpack informed him that if either Collins or Payne are elected, it would be proper for one to appoint the other as a chief deputy. But Collins said that is a violation of Utah's election laws for a person to agree in advance of election to appoint a person to a position if elected.
"This demonstrates a lack of proper thinking in the political process in Utah County and of the office of the county attorney," Collins said.
Collins also criticized Killpack for his investigation of the firing of Commissioner Sid Sandberg's confidential secretary.
He said there is a need for a county attorney who will provide county officials with competent legal advice rather than providing them with what they want to hear.
If elected, he will look at the office's current practice of having four to six prosecutors in the same courtroom at the same time to handle minor matters when the same work could be done by one deputy.
Collins believes his trial experience and management experience qualify him for the job as full-time county attorney.
He was a staff sergeant in Vietnam, a police officer, detective and sergeant for 10 years in Phoenix, worked for six years as manager of a financial institution and worked for two years with the Salt Lake County attorney's office.
He has been in private practice as a trial lawyer for 10 years, has written several books on law enforcement and has been active in church and civic activities.
He received a bachelor's degree in sociology and his juris doctorate degree from Brigham Young University. Collins is married to Lynn Neff. They are the parents of 11 children.