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Tanner Ainge: Utah County deserves better leadership — time to oust Graves

When I decided to run in the 2017 special congressional election, I kicked off my campaign highlighting the many great things taking place in our state and district. Our nation desperately needs to hear Utah’s strong voice as it relates to values, policy and enviable outcomes. Our governor, state Legislature, local leaders and federal delegation are generally doing a great job of this. More importantly, our businesses, families, nonprofits and educational institutions are continuing to thrive.

While I have a strong desire to remain involved in our community, my intention has been to focus on my business and legal career for the foreseeable future. However, the recent news regarding Greg Graves of the Utah County Commission has me seriously considering another race. We have now had the terms of two consecutive commissioners end in disgrace and embarrassment and we deserve better. While we should be carefully planning for the incredible growth and transformation we are experiencing as a county, we’ve instead seen corruption and scandal. Our county should be a shining light; a beacon of family values, integrity and civility against the wave of improper conduct sweeping our country. Instead, we’re dealing with allegations of harassment, hostility and indecency from Commissioner Graves.

Over the past few weeks, I have been contacted by numerous community leaders and elected officials who have encouraged me to run for the commission. As I’ve looked into it, I have learned of the hardship Commissioner Graves has placed on many of our county employees and the other two commissioners who are forced to deal with his antics. Replacing Graves is a first and important step in restoring trust and good governance in Utah County, but there is much more that we can do. Current law allows for a public process of re-evaluating our county form of government, which other counties in our state have been through. As our population grows, a three-member commission may be inadequate. I have current concerns that the concentration of power in just three individuals has not served us well when one of the three is a bad actor. In the 2018 legislative session, a bill will be introduced that would create a cleaner process for counties to modify their form of government. I will be following this closely, along with the data and research, to identify ways for Utah County government to be more transparent, accountable and responsive to its citizens.

In terms of my own potential candidacy, I expect to come to a decision over the holidays and will make an announcement early next year. Regardless of who may ultimately run or who you choose to support, please join the cause of making the dysfunction and embarrassment of our county commission a thing of the past. Let’s combine the values, entrepreneurial spirit and exciting growth of our county with the type of leadership and good governance that will actually address our current issues and prepare for our bright future.

Tanner Ainge is a transactional attorney and business adviser from Alpine, Utah, and a former congressional candidate.