With a full slate of Republican candidates vying for two top Utah County government seats, the county GOP convention tonight at Orem High School will mean the end of the road this year for many political camps.
Candidates in the County Commission and county attorney's races - the most hotly contested seats - will make their final appeals to delegates in hopes of getting the votes needed to move into the primary election.Dealing with the county's budget woes and the looming tax increase that may follow has become the key issue in the commission races, with environmental issues, economic development, and integrity and openness in office close behind.
In each race, the two Republicans with the most delegate votes will appear on the primary ballot in September - unless a candidate can garner 70 percent delegate support and move directly to the general election in November.
Running for the County Commission's "A" seat is Republican incumbent Malcolm H. Beck, seeking his second term.
Beck believes elected officials should have an open door policy. "I think we do a disservice if we do work behind closed doors," he said.
He plans to continue working on economic development in the county if elected. "We need businesses with high-paying status and that are clean industry" to fight air pollution problems.
Von R. Brockbank, a Republican candidate, said the county should address its air quality problem by working with businesses to ensure a safe and clean environment. The county should also protect its water supplies, he said.
Brockbank, a Lehi resident, said the county must provide funds to upgrade roads and provide adequate services to unincorporated areas of the county.
R.L. Wright, Orem, running on the Republican ticket, says residents deserve a change in the commission and he's the man for the job.
"I am concerned that the people are not being heard or served," he said. "Our present commissioners are claiming that a tax increase is inevitable. I will fight every effort to increase taxes and insist that each department of county government live within its allocated budgets without a tax increase."
Republican Mike Davis, Orem, said he wants to broaden the county's tax base by attracting business and industry to the valley and running the county more economically and efficiently.
He is against a tax increase, will work to protect agriculture interests, and develop public awareness of clean-air issues in the county.
Whichever candidate the Republicans nominate will face Provo resident Wayne L. Hill in November. Hill is running as an Independent Party candidate and says he is committed to reducing taxes.
"I'm concerned about commissioners who have ignored the voters demands and allowed tax breaks to multimillion dollar entities which you and I must pay. This costs the county millions a year in lost taxes that others must pay."
The County Commission's "B" seat, being vacated after one two-year term by Sid Sandberg, is being sought by Mel Hudman, a Republican candidate from Spanish Fork. He sees economic growth and environment as major concerns in the race.
He said he is against increasing taxes "unless it's absolutely necessary."
Kevin H. Steadman, Salem, is running on the Republican ticket, with air quality as a top priority. "If we begin to clean up the county, I think people and businesses will want to come in."
Keith A. Haslem, an Orem resident and budget officer for Provo city, said the county's budget deficit is the biggest problem facing commissioners.
He feels his experience qualifies him for the job of "trimming the fat without injuring the muscles of government."
Michael N. Stansfield of Springville plans to bring more citizen involvement to the county if he is elected.
A Republican candidate, he believes unity is needed in the county. Economic development, fiscal accountability and unified lobbying are also major issues for Stansfield.
Daryl G. Tucker said quality, integrity and ability are three things he could bring to the office.
"We need to restore some things to the commission that haven't been there in the past few years," he said. "I want to restore integrity to the office of Utah County commissioner. I intend to work more than full time."
Tucker, Mapleton, is a Republican.
Richard A. Johnson, says he is the candidate with experience and has integrity and the desire to serve to keep the government clock ticking.
Johnson, who recently resigned after serving 10 years on the Nebo School Board, said his experience with multimillion-dollar education budgets has helped prepare him to wrestle with the county budget. A resident of Benjamin, he is running as a Republican.
Marie F. VanWagenen, the only Democrat in the race, said, "I feel that a one-party system can't govern itself well. It encourages corruption."
The Democratic party stands for education, fairer taxes, protecting air and water and really cares about the senior citizens, she said.
Seven candidates are seeking the county attorney's post. Democrat C. Robert Collins and Independent candidate William S. Christian will be on the November ballot with their party nominations.
Five Republican candidates will run for the seat tonight: Kay Bryson, George E. Brown Jr., Dean W. Payne, Don R. Strong and Wayne B. Watson.