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Prosecutor Nathan Evershed announces run for district attorney

Salt Lake County prosecutor Nathan Evershed gives his closing arguments during the trial of former Canyons School District bus driver John Carrell in West Jordan on Wednesday July 22, 2015.
Salt Lake County prosecutor Nathan Evershed gives his closing arguments during the trial of former Canyons School District bus driver John Carrell in West Jordan on Wednesday July 22, 2015.
Al Hartmann

WEST JORDAN — Citing a loss of confidence in Sim Gill's leadership that he claims is eroding public trust and leading to an exodus of prosecutors from the county, prosecutor Nathan Evershed announced his campaign Tuesday for Salt Lake County district attorney.

Accompanied by law enforcement officers, fellow prosecutors and a few defense attorneys backing his bid, Evershed touted his experience prosecuting "everything from traffic tickets to homicides" over the past decade as he kicked off his campaign outside the 3rd District Court in West Jordan.

"The effects of the leadership currently in the district attorney's office is being felt by victims, it's being felt by law enforcement, it's being felt by justice, really," Evershed said following the announcement. He went on to add, "Our credibility and the public trust has diminished. … Someone needs to fix it."

Gill — Evershed's boss who has held the office as a Democrat since 2010 — has not yet indicated whether he will run for re-election. In response to Evershed's announcement, Gill emphasized he remains committed to public service and is currently focused on business in his office, including preparing for a move to the new office building nearing completion behind the Matheson Courthouse.

"My biggest worry right now is to finish the project and get ourselves moved into our new building. This has been a long (process), and doing the day-to-day things running the office," Gill said. "There will come a time in the near future, we will make those decisions at the appropriate time."

Gill has been peppered with criticism from multiple fronts over the past several years.

In October, following the death of former Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott, the county Republican Party called for Gill to resign and lambasted him for apparently failing to follow through investigating allegations Ott had been exploited due to his failing mental and physical health.

Protestors decrying police use of force and delays by Gill's office to release body camera footage of critical incidents have also urged Gill to step down.

Among the supporters for Evershed, a Republican, was defense attorney Greg Skordas, who worked previously as a prosecutor in the county and challenged Gill as a Democrat in 2010.

Skordas also lamented investigators and lawyers leaving the district attorney's office, as well as "the loss of some significant cases that never should have happened," as he shared his confidence that Evershed can bring respect from all areas of the justice system.

Ian Adams, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, announced Tuesday that law enforcement in the organization voted unanimously to give its support to Evershed.

"I sense that the community at large is hungry for a change, and I know my community, the community of police officers, is hungry for a change," Adams said.

A Salt Lake City native, Evershed graduated from West High School and the University of Utah before attending law school at the University of Nebraska, according to his biography. While he dabbled initially with estate planning, Evershed got a job early in his career with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, where he has remained.

Gill praised the country's system of participatory democracy, saying he believes anyone interested in serving their community should consider seeking public office.

"Especially for me as an immigrant son, this has been something that is fantastic, that you get to be part of the political process," Gill said. "Democracy is hard work and it requires people to get involved. If you want to make the kind of changes you want, you should be actively involved. … We have a wonderful country where you can do that."