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Republican seeking balance on S.L. County Commission

SHARE Republican seeking balance on S.L. County Commission

Mark Shurtleff wants change in Salt Lake County government, and he's running for County Commission to bring it about.

"Good government requires exemplary performance by elected officials and trust by the citizens who elect them," said Shurtleff, currently a deputy Salt Lake County attorney. "Both are missing in Salt Lake County today."He believes the current commission is not responsive to its constituents. With legislative and executive powers combined in three people, "you have a question of checks and balances. It can be done with the right people in there, but I think with the current commission they've circled the wagons. It's not fair to a lot of lot of individuals."

A Republican, Shurtleff is running for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Randy Horiuchi. He is one of eight candidates, five of them Republicans.

The issues most important to Shurtleff include better relations between commissioners and other elected officials, cracking down on crime, not raising taxes and planning for growth. He says the county needs to adopt a comprehensive growth strategy and work better with local communities on planning and crime prevention.

"We don't need just more cops," he said. "It needs to be a balanced approach."

Shurtleff has litigated various civil and criminal cases. He holds degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, making him half red and half blue. He served in the U.S. Navy.

"I would come in hard-hitting on certain issues I care about," he said. "I'm an experienced leader. I would open up government and serve the people, not special interests."

Shurtleff labels David Marshall, the candidate with the most experience in county government, as "more of the same." Marshall is currently the commission's chief of staff.

Commission members' contentious nature in recent months has made them easy targets for commission candidates. If he had been commissioner, Shurtleff said he would have worked harder to find common ground, especially with regard to the commission's feud with his boss, County Attorney Doug Short.

"I don't think there's enough leadership on the commission right now to reach a compromise," he said.

With regard to taxes, "I've seen a lot of waste. Because of the commission's favoritism, there are a lot of groups and individuals that we're paying more than we should."

For example, Shurtleff would have cut down on cash the commission gives to charities, the subject of a lawsuit between Short and the commission.

Shurtleff often criticizes Commission Chairman Brent Overson but likes commissioner Mary Callaghan's approach to issues - an approach that has recently put her at odds with Overson and Horiuchi.

"I think it's unfair that she's been attacked," he said. "That just goes to show that they can't compromise. I think I could work well with her."

Married with five children, Shurtleff lives in Sandy.