by Louise R. SHAW
SYRACUSE/LAYTON—Candidates met with delegates at party conventions in Davis County last Saturday to share their ideas and get input from their constituents.
While there were no contested county races among Democratic candidates, candidates for Republican positions were anxious to share their ideas and earn enough votes to get on the primary ballot.
There were a few surprises.
Bret Millburn, a Davis County Commissioner, lost his bid for re-election to Seat A on the commission when he didn’t get enough votes from delegates in the first round of voting.
His challengers, Bob Stevenson and Brian Muir, did earn spots on the primary ballot. Stevenson, the mayor of Layton, won 51.35 percent of the vote in the second round and Muir won 48.65 percent, so both candidates will move on.
Davis County Republican Party Chair Teena Horlacher started the general meeting with a speech promoting the Republican platform and the caucus/convention system.
“The beliefs that define us must be guarded as we guard our lives,” she said.
There are ways to improve the caucus system, she said, but having delegates and conventions allows delegates to “look candidates in the eye” and “hold incumbents accountable,” she said, making sure they “protect the principles that are important to us.”
The signature gathering that has been in effect since the passage of the controversial SB54 in 2014 has altered the election landscape and affected the convention results in myriad ways.
In District 19, Ray Ward, who is running for re-election, received 66.07 percent of the delegate vote. Before SB54, that would have been enough to declare him the party nominee, making a primary unnecessary.
After the new signature system passed, however, the county Republican Party changed the rules so that candidates who do not gather signatures can be on the ballot if they get more than 30 percent of the vote.
Phill Wright did not gather signatures but since he received 33.91 percent of the vote for District 19, he will be on the ballot for the Republican primary.
Those who do gather sufficient qualifying signatures are assured a place on the primary ballot regardless of the outcome at the convention.
In the race for House District 20, Matt Jensen received 60.2 percent of the vote from delegates and in past years would have moved on to the general election without a primary. Melissa Garff Ballard (39.8 percent of the second round) and Glen Jenkins (who did not receive enough votes to go to the second round of voting) will also be on the primary ballot because they successfully gathered the necessary signatures to qualify.
No candidates for county attorney or sheriff sought signatures.
Troy Rawlings came away with 80.12 percent of the second round voting and will advance to the general election, defeating David Cold and Samuel Knight for Republican nominee for county attorney.
In the race for sheriff, Kelly Sparks won 61.83 percent of the votes and will go on to the general election after defeating Arnold “Butch” Butcher, who received 38.17 percent.
The other contested race was for Seat B on the Davis County Commission. Five candidates had thrown their hats in the ring for commissioner. Bruce Young received the most votes from delegates and will advance to the primary, as will Thomas Christopulos, who earned both enough votes and collected signatures to be on the ballot. Lorene Kamalu also gathered sufficient signatures to advance.
Seats in House Districts 13 to 18 and Senate District 21 and 22 were uncontested.
At the Democrat convention, Adam Alba said he wanted to “share a message of positivity and hope” and ensure there are “continuing resources to care for the poor and disenfranchised.” Alba is running for House District 18, the seat now held by Timothy Hawkes.
“There needs to be reform,” he said. “There needs to be better pay for public education.”
Besides Alba, Democrats running for seats in the Utah House of Representatives are Jason Allen in District 11, Rick Jones in District 12, Tab Lyn Uno in District 13, Shanell Day in District 14, Rich Miller in District 15, Cheryl Nunn in District 16, Dawn Nunn in District 17, Courtney Jones in District 19, Ryan Jones in District 20. Jacob Penrod is running for Senate District 21.
Lee Castillo and Kurt Weiland are both running for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 1, the seat now held by Congressman Rob Bishop. Shireen Ghorbani and Randy Hopkins are running for District 2, the seat held by Chris Stewart. Mitchell Vice and Jenny Wilson are running for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
“There comes a moment where you say, ‘I’ve got to do something,’” candidate Kurt Weiland told the Clipper. “Silence is support, compliance and collusion. You’ve got to try to do something.”
The convention, he said, provides the opportunity to get feedback from constituents.
“Conventions give the opportunity for me as a candidate to ask questions and talk to voters to find out what are their concerns,” he said, “and to add their thoughts to mine.”