Unlike many county races where candidates work to simply get recognized, a number of candidates for Salt Lake County offices will be immediately recognizable to voters.
In the biggest county race, no declared Republicans will try to oust Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman, although six people will challenge her in November, including two Democrats and last-minute candidate Merrill Cook, a Republican who is running as an independent. Because of the many state and county races he has ran, Cook may actually have an advantage in name recognition over Workman — who is not shy about plastering her name on everything from county facilities to scorecards at county golf courses. Cook will need all the help he can get to surmount the $300,000-plus war chest the mayor has built. Cook has previously lost eight races for various offices, although he did win two terms in Congress in the late 1990s.
As for the Democrats, lawyer and real estate developer Peter Corroon has the imprimatur of party leaders, with businesswoman Marilee Latta also in the race. Andrea Breeze and Joseph Irish of the Personal Choice Party and Diana Lee Hirschi of the Green Party, who challenged Councilman Randy Horiuchi for an at-large council seat in 2002, are also in the race.
Of the County Council races, the at-large seat held by Steve Harmsen is the most intriguing: Harmsen is being challenged in his bid for re-election by, among others, fellow Republican Brent Overson, a former county commissioner, and Democrat Jenny Wilson, daughter of former Salt Lake mayor Ted Wilson.
Of the three district council members whose terms are expiring, only Russell Skousen (District 4) opted not to seek re-election. "I never contemplated doing this for eight years," Skousen said. "I wanted to stabilize the unincorporated areas and establish a no-tax-increase culture, and I think we've done that."
Besides the incumbents, the most well-known candidate in the council district races is probably former county treasurer and county Democratic Party chairman Gary Pratt, who is challenging District 6 Councilman Marv Hendrickson.
In Davis County, incumbent County Commissioner Michael Cragun will face three Republican challengers in the GOP county convention April 24 and one Democratic candidate will be on the ballot for the four-year commission seat in the fall. Cragun said he enjoys the job and would like to continue working on what he sees as the major issues facing the county: transportation, increasing population at the jail and the growing number of people that need social services programs.
Former Clinton City Councilman Chris Martinez is the lone Democrat seeking the seat, while North Salt Lake Councilman Lynn Ballard is running to make the County Commission friendlier to cities in the south end of the county. Randy Stevenson of Farmington, the son of former commissioner Gayle Stevenson, filed Wednesday but could not be reached for comment.
In Utah County, Democrats continue to have few candidates, despite the decision by current commissioner Gary Herbert's decision to run for governor instead of re-election. There are five Republicans contending for the open seat, including Lindon mayor Larry Ellertson and Saratoga Springs city councilman Tim Taylor.
Three Democrats are in the running for the 12 House seats in Utah County, leaving six of the seats to interparty battles and three of the representatives unchallenged, and three candidates in the four Senate contests.