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Demo's top aim is county ethics

Peter Corroon, Democratic candidate for Salt Lake County mayor, has tailored his campaign toward cleaning up the mass of scandal and controversy that has engulfed county government over the past several months.

His billboards and radio ads reflect that emphasis, and now Corroon, currently the clear front-runner in the race, has released a plan whereby he intends to improve the county's ethics policies and practices, if elected.

"When the citizens of Salt Lake County voted to change their form of government, they were expressing a clear desire for greater accountability, more checks and balances, and government more representative of the people," he said in a news conference last week. "Now, we see that county government was not transformed. It still needs to be reformed and overhauled."

Corroon wants to audit all county departments, maintain a permanent, independent, bipartisan ethics panel, eliminate all gifts from outside sources, prohibit high-level employees from accepting positions as director or officer of any major county contractor or vendor, and prohibit employees from using county property for personal use.

He also wants to publish a list of county contractors, eliminate county cars and car allowances as employee benefits and open mayoral cabinet meetings to the public.

"These reforms should have been in place four years ago," Corroon said. "Some of them are being currently proposed (the County Council is currently looking at a comprehensive ethics policy) and I will support them. Others are ideas that have not been proposed."

Independent candidate Merrill Cook has chosen to concentrate on the campaign finance area, saying all contributors to county races should be limited to $5,000. That, he says, would eliminate undue influence-peddling arising from contractors contributing thousands of dollars.

"This is, I think, my centerpiece of reform, where the real corruption is," Cook said.

Corroon also proposes a $5,000 limit for county-wide races, $2,000 for district races, and no contributions whatever from contractors.

The candidates have signed a "clean campaign pledge" created by Corroon, promising to "conduct my campaign for public office openly and fairly" and "debate with respect to my views and qualifications rather than engage in personal attacks," among other things.


E-MAIL: aedwards@desnews.com