Facebook Twitter



Solid Republicanism. That defines both politics and government in Sevier County this year as the Democrats failed to come up with a single candidate for either the primary or general elections.

Among Republicans, there are only two contests, county commission and treasurer, in the June 28 primary. The winners are shoo-ins because they'll run unopposed in November.In all other offices, Republican candidates are running unopposed.

Incumbent Gene B. Mendenhall, a retired businessman, is being challenged in the commission primary by attorney Tex R. Olsen. Both are from Richfield. That race holds true to a "gentlemen's agreement" tradition of candidates running from the same area of the county, alternating with different sectors each election.

Peggy Mason of Salina, in the northern sector, gained sufficient support in the county Republican convention to eliminate other candidates. She will replace longtime commissioner Merlin Ashman, who didn't seek re-election.

Jerry Nice is the holdover commissioner from Annabella, in the south area of the county.

Incumbent Leda Jensen has served as Sevier County treasurer since 1975 and is seeking her sixth term. She has been popular with voters, running mostly unopposed through the years.

The challenger is former Sevier County resident Charles H. Wat-kin, who recently retired from a career in the U.S. Air Force and is living in Tucson, Ariz.

Military service exempts a candidate from the residency requirement that applies to others.

Mendenhall and Olsen have held civic positions through the years, and the incumbent, who is completing his first term on the County Commission, is a former city councilman. The challenger has been a county attorney for Sevier, Wayne and Kane counties.

Neither commission candidate has talked much about issues in the quiet primary election campaign.

Mendenhall wants to help complete ongoing large projects. Olsen sees a need for an infrastructure and long-range county planning.

Mendenhall believes the commission is a "people job." He said he has thoroughly enjoyed the position, where he has been directly responsible for county roads and a new county landfill.

"We have big projects in the mill," he said. "There are a lot of things yet to be done, and I have the experience to continue to be of service to the county."

Among those is a new $10 million criminal justice and court complex.

Mendenhall is concerned about federal and state mandates that are not funded from those agencies and sees this as one of the most critical problems facing the county.

The commissioner also sees a need for a diversified group of small businesses in the county. "We now have the vehicle set up for that."

Olsen outlines the two most critical needs of the county as planning and preparation for future population growth and careful expenditures of taxpayers' dollars.

"We need a study of infrastructure needs and long-range planning. It is projected that Utah's population will grow by 400,000 people in the next 10 years (and) Sevier County will get its fair share or possibly more than its fair share."

Olsen, a lifelong Sevier County resident, said he wants to give service "to a community which has been my lifetime residence and means so much to me. My children have received the benefits of our community, and I would like to make some contribution to help maintain the quality of life we have."

Six candidates, all incumbents except for Mason, are running unopposed in both the primary and general elections. Others are Pam Hendrickson, assessor; Don Brown, attorney; Steven C. Wall, clerk/auditor; Dorothy B. Henry, recorder; and John L. Meacham, sheriff.