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Springville woman joins race for Utah County Commission

PROVO — Another candidate is jumping into the race for the seat held by embattled Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves.

Karen Ellingson, a Springville planning commissioner, announced Friday she plans to run for Graves' seat, which is up for grabs at the end of this year.

Also in the race is Tanner Ainge, a business consultant and son of Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge, who finished last in a three-way GOP primary last year to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Ellingson and Ainge announced their candidacies amid Graves facing calls for his resignation after he was accused of sexual misconduct. A county investigation couldn't confirm the sexual assault claim but did find that Graves is widely viewed as a workplace bully with explosive, intimidating and vulgar tendencies.

“It’s time to do more than just recognize that the hostile behavior and lack of leadership over the last four years has been unacceptable,” Ellingson said in a news release. “We need a commissioner who will fulfill the dual responsibilities to be both a member of a legislative body and a leader in the workplace."

Ellingson interned with former Provo Mayor John Curtis, who won Chaffetz's seat, and has served on Springville's library board and board of adjustment, according to her LinkedIn page. She's also a member of the Utah County Republican Party.

The official Utah County Commission candidate declaration filing period doesn't open until March 9, but candidates since Tuesday have been able to gather signatures to get on the ballot.

Ainge has signed up to gather signatures for Graves' seat, as has candidate Russell L. Billings, but Ellingson hadn't filed to gather signatures as of Friday, according to the Utah County Clerk/Auditor's Office.

Graves has said he doesn't plan to seek re-election, but he doesn't intend to resign before the end of his term.