For the last couple decades, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has been mired in controversy. As the state’s current Attorney General Sean Reyes is not running for reelection, Utahns face a choice: Who will the people choose next?

Nine candidates have filed. There are four Republicans, two Democrats, one libertarian, one United Utah and one unaffiliated. The field will narrow as political parties select their official nominees at convention — only one candidate affiliated with a party indicated on the filing form that he would be collecting signatures and that’s Derek Brown.

Ahead of the upcoming conventions, the Deseret News asked each candidate what their actionable plan was to return public trust to the office if they are elected. Here are their answers (candidates are listed alphabetically by last name).

Rudy Bautista (Democratic)

Bautista said he believes public oversight would restore trust to the attorney general’s office. He said similar to how the Salt Lake City Police Department has a citizen review board, the office could also have a review board.

In addition to public oversight, Bautista said he would make his calendar public, refrain from involvement in national politics, disclose income tax, have his bank accounts and investment accounts monitored by the internal affairs department and handle some of the cases in the courtroom.

“I pride myself in being politically independent,” Bautista said. “I’m not tied to any ideology one way or the other.”

Derek Brown (Republican)

Brown said if he was elected attorney general, he would make his calendar public, establish a constituents service office, study and look at implementing recommendations from the legislative audit of the office, and have an open line of communication with county sheriffs and county attorneys.

Additionally, he wants to collaborate “with the legislature on policies that will help not only with transparency, but with issues that impact the office.”

Brown believes that the office needs someone like him to come in from the outside to make changes. “I did the same thing when I was the state party chair. ... I was able to come in with a fresh set of eyes and make a lot of the changes that were needed to redirect where the party went,” he said. “I think I can do the same as attorney general.”

David Carlson (Democratic)

Carlson said people in the attorney general’s office have “dedicated their lives to doing good, to serving others” and he thinks the role of the attorney general is to put them in a position where they are able to do their work.

The day-to-day work of the attorney general’s office should be public knowledge including who the attorney general meets with.

The last great Utah Attorney General who Carlson said he worked for was the late Jan Graham, who served in the position from 1993-2001. He said Graham was an example of leadership in this respect. “It starts with picking the right leaders for the office, involving them in managing the office and being hands-on knowing exactly who’s leading the office and what they’re doing.”

Trent Christensen (Republican)

Christensen said he would do an investigation into what happens on election day — “an electoral integrity audit.” He said, “I want to see the ballots, I want to see the mail-in ballots, I want to see the machines, I want to talk to the county clerks, I want to talk to their staff,” and he added that he believes people need to know if their vote counts.

On day one, Christensen said he would make his calendar public. He also plans on “making sure that the AG’s office is doing the will of the people, not just the will of the bureaucracy” through prosecutorial reform and other measures.

Christensen said he wants to make sure the office is working for the people and that the office enforces the law. “We’re going to be tough on crime. We’re going to work with local law enforcement,” Christensen said.

Austin Hepworth (Unaffiliated)

“The attorney general is supposed to enforce the law against all who break it, whether they be government officials, corporations or individuals,” Hepworth said. “But, there is a natural conflict or tension in a Republican enforcing the law against other Republicans, especially when politics can come into play.”

Hepworth said he’s running “independent from and unaffiliated with any political party” to solve that issue.

If elected, Hepworth said he would share his calendar and use the office to help everyday Utahns understand what the law is and how it impacts them. “The attorney general should actively communicate with Utahns and provide information related to the law that allows them to understand what is going on, why it is taking place and how it may impact them.”

Andrew McCullough (Libertarian)

McCullough said he wants to see the attorney general’s office transform. Drawing from what George Bush Sr. said years ago, McCullough said “I would like the attorney general’s office to be kinder in general. I would like them to remember that they are here to represent the people.”

If McCullough is elected, he said he would tell everyone that he’s not seeking higher office, but he’s there to do the work the office requires. He wants to avoid self-aggrandizement and “stop the noise and stop the press releases.”

In addition to implementing kindness in the office and avoiding “political manipulation,” McCullough said in general he would support the work of the office being known to the public as long as there were reasonable exceptions.

Frank Mylar (Republican)

Mylar said honesty is part of his actionable plan if he’s elected. That starts during the campaign. He said as a candidate and an attorney general, he wouldn’t take money from corporations and lobbying groups. “I like what St. Thomas Moore said years ago. ... He said he would never accept a gift from anyone if he thought he was going to hear their case.”

In addition to not accepting gifts, Mylar said he would draw on his experience as an attorney to manage the office. He has litigated civil rights cases in the state and federal courts in addition to working throughout the attorney general’s office and starting his own law firm.

Mylar said that he would make his work calendar public, adding that he would make an exception for investigative work that could compromise a case.

Related
An overview of candidates for Utah Attorney General

Michelle Quist (United Utah)

The work of the office, not politics, is what Quist said she’ll focus on if she’s elected. “Instead of changing the constitution to appoint an AG, thereby consolidating power in the (super-majority Republican) executive and taking the democratic power of choice away from the people of Utah, my solution is to elect a third-party candidate untainted by party politics and untethered from national bosses or purse strings.”

Quist said she would get the best lawyers in the state and pay them competitive salaries, bring the office’s e-discovery system up to modern standards and “open the AG’s public calendars, finances, hiring, and other public activities appropriate for public officers, and communicate regularly about these efforts.”

“Trust requires transparency and communication,” Quist said, adding that she’ll get the office focused on “lawyering, transparency and communication.”

Rachel Terry (Republican)

“At the heart of trust is transparency, accessibility and accountability,” Terry said. She said she would have a public calendar and have a constituents service office. This office would give the public an avenue for feedback and questions.

“I will make sure that there are people in my office who will work with the public to answer their questions, and importantly, to connect them with them with resources,” Terry said. Additionally, Terry said she would hold town halls where members of the public can ask questions and give feedback.

Terry said she also believes being clear about her credentials and the cases she has litigated is important for restoring trust.