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Should officials stay for Games?

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No one should be mayor for life, state Rep. Dave Ure says.

But the Utah lawmaker thinks it's a good idea if some mayors and city council members are in office two months beyond their terms in early 2002 so they can reign during the Winter Olympics.Ure, R-Kamas, will present his ideas next week at legislative hearings. "I don't know if this will fly. There are a lot of people up here (in Park City) that don't like the idea much now. They're beating the heck out of me."

Ure, who represents a three-county district that includes Park City, home of the 2002 slalom and other events, says it makes sense to him to have the elected officials of cities that host Olympic events stay in office through the Games, keeping personal contacts with local, national and international Olympic officials and commitments and understanding intact.

The four-year terms of mayors and city council members who were elected last November are scheduled to end in early January 2002, when the winners of the 2001 municipal elections are sworn in.

Depending on local races and issues, you could have a whole new crop of city officials taking office just five weeks before the Olym-pics come to their towns Feb. 8-24, 2002.

While Ure says he hasn't decided which cities should be included - where Olympic events are held, where practices are held or where transportation hubs are set up - certainly on the list would be the state's two largest cities - Salt Lake City and West Valley City - along with Park City, Ogden and Provo, where other Olympic events will be held.

"There are all kinds of personal agreements, understandings, that depend" on the current officeholders, says Ure, who has been involved as an Olympic watchdog for the Legislature.

"You're supposed to have those agreements in writing. But already we've found that not to be the case," says Ure, a conservative Kamas rancher who runs cattle and has a dairy operation on about 800 acres in Summit County.

In short, it doesn't make sense to change horses in midstream.

And there's another aspect. Ure has already heard that some current officeholders may run for re-election in 2001, win and then resign in March 2002 after the Olympics end, just to be in office during the events.

Being in office during the Olympics will bring all kinds of opportunities, not only to see the fruits of one's labors take place but also special seating, event tickets, receptions and the chance to rub shoulders with some of the world's top winter athletes and government leaders.

"Will we have continuity because people are leaving (resigning) after the Games? Can we solve that problem, too?" he asks.

Ure's change wouldn't affect Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini. If she wants to be mayor of the official host city during the Games and carry the Olympic flag like she did at the end of the Nagano Games, she must run again in 1999, when her current term ends.

Corradini, who declines to say whether she'll seek a third term, recently told the Deseret News that the reason there are already three or four candidates running for her office is because they want to be mayor during the Olympics.

But four Salt Lake City Council members would be affected: Keith Christensen, Carlton Christensen, Tom Rogan and Roger Thompson all would have their current terms extended two months and would be in office during the Games if Ure's proposal goes through.

Ogden Mayor Glenn Mecham is on the same election cycle as Corradini; he'd have to run in 1999 to be in office during the Games, but four Ogden City Council members would be affected by Ure's idea.

Park City Mayor Brad Olch and two of his council members, Roger Harlan and Shauna Kerr, would be affected, as would West Valley Mayor Gearld Wright and three of his council members, and Provo Mayor Lewis Billings and three of his council members.

They all won election in November 1997, and their terms ends Jan. 1, 2002.

Wright says Ure's plan "is a very good idea." In Atlanta, home of the 1996 Summer Games, "multimillion-dollar decisions were being made just days before the Games began," says Wright. "To trust someone new to make those decisions or to hope someone still at the city can do it, that's not wise. And then to say to people who have put in so much work, know so much `come up to the front door but you can't come in' - that's not right, either."

Olch said he doesn't much care if Ure is successful or not. "I will run for re-election in 2001; I want to be here (in office) during the Olympics and said as much" in his 1997 re-election campaign. "If I loose (in the 2001 race) I imagine I'll still be involved in the Olympics in some way, whether I'm mayor or not," said Olch.

The mayor says there are personal contacts with Olympic officials that matter. "But we have a staff in place to handle the Olympics, and they will still be here" even if he and council members either don't run or are defeated in re-election in 2001.

Ure says he agreed to bring up the matter after a supporter of Olch and a supporter of Corradini both called him to express concern over changes in elected city officials right before the Olympics are held.

Ure says it "would only be fair" to put his idea to a vote in the affected cities, should it get that far.

"The voters elected these people (in November 1997) believing they'd be out of office" in January 2002. To extend their terms by two months "should probably go back to the voters again. And if I get that far (in the legislation), that will be part of it." The mayors and council members themselves wouldn't be up for election again, but the idea of extending the terms would be.

One thing Ure won't do is include any state officials or legislators in the extended term. First, their elections are in even-numbered years, so they would either be in office for a year or out of office for a year by the time the Games are held - enough time to make needed accommodations, Ure said.

But he also jokes: "State officials and legislators aren't worth it; aren't worth that much" to the Olympic effort. "Let those suckers run for office again if they want to be here" during the Games, Ure said.