Experience and knowledge - that's what each Republican candidate for the Utah County Commission's seat "A" says he has and what his opponent lacks.
Incumbent Utah County Commissioner Malcolm H. Beck says his eight years on the commission has given him the political smarts to get the job done. His opponent, Jerry D. Grover, sees Beck's two terms as reason to look for a fresh face."Some things need to change," Grover said. "We need qualified, competent people running for office. I worry that the current system does not generate ideal candidates but is instead generating people who are more concerned about getting elected than about their own principles."
Beck counters by saying residents "deserve proven leadership" and that he "has the integrity and ability to represent the county in an effective manner.
"Utah County is facing some challenging problems," said Beck, currently the commission chairman. "My leadership experience, my contacts in government and business, place me in a unique position to help Utah County in a positive and responsible way."
The two Republicans face off in the June 28 primary for the four-year commission seat, with the victor facing the winner of the C. Thomas Anderson-Robert W. String-ham Democratic primary in the November election.
Beck, who currently serves as chairman of the commission, also served terms on the American Fork City Council and completed a term as that city's mayor before reaching county office.
Grover ran unsuccessfully for a commission seat against Gary Herbert in 1992. He ran that year as an independent grass-roots candidate, opposing traditional politics and basing his campaign on issues. However, he said that no candidate can win in that manner and therefore decided to run as a Republican this go-round.
"It was pretty clear to me that you have to spend some money if you're going to win," Grover said. "And nothing has changed since I ran last time. The same issues are still facing us. There is nothing I'll find in politics that I haven't already cleaned up before."
Probably the only areas the two say they agree on are meeting federally mandated air-quality standards (considered by both as the county's key issue) and fighting similarly needless federal requirements.
Grover, a senior environmental engineer at Geneva Steel, said the issue is his area of expertise. He said that he already brought up possible solutions currently being proposed by the commission, including installing a remote sensing program and eliminating oxygenated fuels.
With his fellow commissioners, Beck supports a nine-point plan to reduce emissions and meet the federal standards and opposes mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency that he said would be a needless burden on Utah County taxpayers.
Both candidates call themselves fiscal conservatives.
In Beck's two terms as commissioner, the county has benefited from having a balanced budget and reduced county taxes. Consequently, the county has prospered more than any other in one of the most prosperous states in the United States, he said.
According to Grover, the county could save nearly $7 million if the federal government were forced to pay taxes and other fees from which it exempts itself. Those savings would allow the county to eliminate fees and taxes, including motel and restaurant taxes, he said.
Grover criticizes the current county political system, which allows commissioners, who are paid nearly $50,000 per year, to show up for meetings only once a month.
"They may come in more than that, but no accounting of their work is required," he said. "(That is) unacceptable."
Beck, who worked for U.S. Steel for 30 years, is retired. As commissioner, he labels himself a full-time public servant.
"Since I've been in office, I've been giving to it full time," Beck said. "I have no outside business interests or anything else going on. I'm here in this office all the time."
Additionally, Beck said none of the current commission candidates, excepting himself and current County Commissioner Rich-ard Johnson, have bothered to put in the required time, like attending meetings.
"If somebody's going to run for public office, they should show up to the meetings," Beck said. "Before I ran (for the American Fork City Council post), I attended their meetings. Someone who is concerned about the county and its issues will take the time to find out what is really going on."
The two also disagree on the idea of equal commission representation. Beck said the commission has operated on a "gentleman's agreement," that the commission should have members coming from the north, middle and south ends of the county, prior to 1975. Beck lives in American Fork, and his fellow commissioners, Gary Herbert and Richard Johnson, live in Orem and Benjamin, respectively. Of the four candidates for the commission seat "A," two - Grover and Stringham - live in the Provo-Orem area. Anderson lives in Alpine.
"The largest areas of unincorporated land in the county are in the north and south ends," Beck said. "The agreement ensures that there is equal representation on the commission. No one area receives special treatment this way."
Grover said geographic locations mean nothing and that commissioners should be elected to serve the entire county.
"When I vote, I vote for the best person," Grover said. "There are smart people all over the county. That's not the point. If the commission is going to have this requirement, then maybe they need to change the law."
During the 10 days preceding the primary election June 28, the Deseret News is publishing a series of articles on candidates and the issues they are discussing.
In the coming days you'll see the following stories:
Thursday: Utah County Commission seat A (Democrat)
Friday: Utah County Commission seat B (Republican)