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Callaghan to seek re-election

Mary Callaghan announced Tuesday that she will run for a second term as Salt Lake County commissioner next November.

Callaghan, 43, won her seat by beating incumbent Jim Bradley in 1994. At the time, she said she would reduce crime problems and hold the line on taxes. Now, three years later, she says she has fulfilled those promises.She points to a new 2,088-bed county jail now being built on 3300 South and 900 West, more than 300 additional beds in the Metro and Oxbow jails, 58 more deputy sheriffs, 23 additional dispatchers, increased coordination in helping troubled youths and gangs, and a larger federal presence in the form of more U.S. attorneys and Immigration and Naturalization Service agents.

She is chairwoman of the county's Criminal Justice Advisory Committee.

Though total crime in the county has generally increased with population over Callaghan's term, annual crimes per 1,000 people have generally stayed in the 55 to 60 range.

Regarding taxes, Callaghan points to the tax increase proposed during last year's budgeting process that fellow commissioners Brent Overson and Randy Horiuchi supported and that she opposed. It was ultimately withdrawn.

"I stand for responsible government - fiscal responsibility," she said.

The tax issue was only one of many in which Callaghan has found herself at odds with Overson and Horiuchi. Last year the two voted to relax restrictions on billboards in the county, with Callaghan dissenting. They voted to retain the county's current lobbyist at the Utah Legislature (at double the fee), with Callaghan dissenting. Over Overson's objections, she voted with Horiuchi to withdraw a proposed change-of-government referendum last fall.

Callaghan claims the moral victory on the billboards, as most potential commission candidates have said they side with her on the issue.

Nevertheless, being the odd woman out does have its drawbacks. Callaghan was recently voted out as commission chairwoman as part of the lobbyist issue fallout - she had called for a criminal investigation into the matter, at which Horiuchi and Overson took offense. Overson's name is conspicuously absent on a list of prominent Republicans endorsing Callaghan's re-election bid, including Gov. Mike Leavitt, U.S. senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, U.S. representatives Merrill Cook and Chris Cannon, state Senate President Lane Beattie and various others.

Even though some observers believe Callaghan has made herself politically vulnerable by not being able to build a power base with at least one other commissioner - particularly fellow Republican Overson - she makes no apologies.

"I am representing the voice of the people," she said. "I represent the citizens, and that's how I vote." She added that she has received a large amount of positive feedback on the various issues in which she has been the minority.

She cites "proactive preparation for growth" as the most pressing issue currently facing the county.

So far Callaghan has no challengers - Democrat or Republican - who have announced they will run against her. Horiuchi, whose seat is also up, is not seeking re-election; David Marshall, the commission's chief of staff, has announced his candidacy for that spot. The filing deadline is March 17.