Facebook Twitter

Salt Lake County: County Commission Seat A

SHARE Salt Lake County: County Commission Seat A

Mary Callaghan (R)

One-term incumbent Salt Lake County Commissioner Mary Callaghan is stressing her experience and knowledge of government in her bid for re-election.

Callaghan, a resident of Salt Lake City, has campaigned on her record, saying she has been responsible for various improvements in coun-ty government, such as decreased spending, more efficient management of her primary area (she is over the Department of Human Services) and better methods of combating crime.

She claims much of the credit for the new county jail, as well as additional sheriff's deputies, dispatchers and youth intervention programs. She heads up the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee.

Many on the political right like Callaghan because of her attitude against raising taxes and for political and fiscal conservatism. Opponent Wendy Smith, however, challenges many of her claims as inaccurate.

Callaghan says she will not raise taxes, and will make government more efficient by implementing more technology and being flexible with changes in national and state government that may benefit Salt Lake County.

Unlike many observers, who have said the squabbling that has characterized county government has been harmful, Callaghan says the differences of opinion have been good for government.

"I think it's healthy," she said. "I think the citizens are entitled to three votes and three opinions."

She is endorsed by several prominent state and federal political officials, including Gov. Mike Leavitt and four of the five members of Utah's congressional delegation.

Callaghan worked for several years in administration for Hercules Aerospace. She is the mother of a son and a daughter.

Wendy Smith (R)

Wendy Smith has focused most of her campaign for County Commission on trying to discredit incumbent Mary Callaghan's claims and promises.

"Shame on you, Mary Callaghan, for fooling the voters in 1994," she said. "Fact: In 1998, we won't be fooled again."

Smith says Callaghan has not kept her 1994 campaign promise to cut taxes 4 percent per year. Callaghan responds that her department's costs are down 5 percent per county resident from when she took office four years ago.

Callaghan's department was consolidated from four to three divisions when she took office. She takes credit for thus reducing it 25 percent, but Commissioner Brent Overson, who is closely tied to the Smith campaign, said it was a done deal before Callaghan came on board.

Callaghan has said that her department is more streamlined and efficient than when she took office. It has grown in absolute figures in terms of budget and personnel, but she attributes that to additional programs being added, swelling the department.

Smith disputes that, saying that most of those programs were added before Callaghan took office, and that the rest amount to only a very small portion of the department's total budget.

Callaghan has also taken much of the credit for the new county jail, saying that a site wasn't even chosen before she took office. Smith points out that the county had already agreed to purchase 30 acres of land for the jail before Callaghan took office, but Callaghan said even then there was still some question of where the jail was going to go.

A Riverton resident, Smith works in real estate acquisition and development. She is the mother of a seven-year-old son, Spencer.