These are my picks for Salt Lake County offices as part of a continuing series of who I’m voting for this election cycle. As a resident of an unincorporated township, these offices are especially important to me as they are, in effect, my city government.
Salt Lake County Mayor: Ben McAdams
This is probably one of the most difficult races I’ve had to weigh in on. This is one of the few occasions where I think we’re getting a chance to pick between the better of two goods, so I don’t have a clear choice to be made. While I believe Mark Crockett’s political positions match my own most closely, general temperament concerns me. Several high-profile Republicans have opted to cross party lines and endorse Ben McAdams. More than a few of them have alleged that the campaign has threatened them with intra-party reprisals for doing so. Among them is Steve Urquhart, someone who I know to be honest and unlikely to make up something like this. I’m also a bit concerned at his adversarial tone in the campaign including during the GOP primary.
Ben McAdams leans a good bit left of where I do, but he’s a competent manager, and I believe he will carry out his executive duties exceptionally well. Given that the county is often providing services to and working jointly with cities throughout the county, I think his experience building consensus is going to be a much better asset to county government than matching my ideology so rigidly.
Salt Lake County Council At-Large C: Joseph M. Demma
The big question facing the county is between contraction in the face of wall-to-wall cities or an attempt to preserve things largely as they are. The shrinking direct tax base lost to incorporation leaves the remaining islands of county land in the position of incorporating, being annexed, or seeing a tremendous tax increase to pay for municipal services to an ever-shrinking base. While I’ve been very happy to not be a party of the city of Sandy (and it’s sales tax-obsessed mayor, Tom Dolan), I can see the writing on the wall that this is likely to end up changing Real Soon Now(TM) as Millcreek moves towards incorporation and drives the final nail into the tax base. As such, I’ve got to support the candidate that acknowledges this eventuality and tries to get ahead of it.
The county needs to move away from the 20% of the budget stuck in municipal services and focus more on its duties to provide the services delegated to it by the state. I’ve met Joseph Demma and think he’d do well carrying out this vision. Jim Bradley has left me with the feeling that he wants to keep things as they are. While I get that this is a popular idea for hold-out communities like mine (White City), I think we need to take our lumps now and move forward.
Salt Lake County Council 6: Max L. Burdick
This one has the same issues as the at-large race with a twist: I’ve known Paul Recanzone, one of the candidates, for a number of years and we share a passion for broadband policy. Outside of this, though, I don’t know that we can find a lot more common ground. The county doesn’t have a role to play in education (that’s handled by school districts), labor laws (that’s a state function), or the state code (a function of the legislature), but he takes positions on all of them. What about incorporation of townships? Parks and trails? The Unified Police District and Unified Fire Authority? I’m left with a feeling that there’s a lot of passion, but not necessarily for county issues. It doesn’t help that Paul leans a lot further left than I’d like either.
I’ve been happy with Max Burdick’s work so far, and I feel he’s on board for the county to make the upcoming transitions into a more focused role.