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Not even the most paranoid candidate could foster the notion he might lose when running unopposed, but Gary Herbert still wonders - if only for a moment.

"In politics, you've always got to be cautious," he said.However, Herbert, 49, will be the only candidate on the Nov. 5 ballot for the Utah County Commission seat he has held for more than six years.

Barring the impossible, the Orem Republican will have a chance to become the longest-serving Utah County commissioner ever.

As far as anyone knows, no commissioner has ever served more than 10 years. If Herbert finishes out the entire term, which he is virtually guaranteed to win, he will have served 10 1/2 years since he was appointed to the commission in the middle of 1990.

"I've enjoyed serving as a commissioner," Herbert said. "I brought some skills to the job that have been needed."

Herbert isn't really into longevity records, but he does concede he probably will have accumulated more hours of work than any commissioner in Utah County's history by the time he finishes his third term in 2000.

He's not saying whether or not he'll consider another run at the commission seat as the 21st century opens, but he won't rule it out either. "I know I've got a job to do now and I'll just concentrate on that and take it one day at a time," he said.

Herbert said his No. 1 challenge as commissioner is dealing with growth and accompanying issues like air quality, transportation and crime.

One of the commissioner's priorities during his next four years in office will be maintaining the county government's efficient use of tax dollars and keeping costs down.

Herbert said he will push a county sales-tax proposal before the state Legislature during its 1997 session. The sales tax would allow the county to cut back on property taxes and more fairly distribute the tax burden, he says.

"Everybody that receives the services ought to pay their fair share," Herbert said.

In the June primary, Herbert defeated intra-party challenger Jim Larsen of Mapleton by 61 percent to 39 percent.