Opinionated @ CFE

Where I Stand 2010: County and Local Offices

Oct
15

Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time studying each candidate and, if needed, attempting to contact them to get answers to specific questions. I would strongly encourage each of you to do the same. Here are my picks for the county and local offices.

Salt Lake County Council At-Large B: I was thankfully able to eliminate one candidate in this race almost immediately. Warren T. Rogers spends his entire campaign website talking about federal issues, but not one lick of anything about local things like the townships, transportation, the Unified Police Department and it’s fee… nothing. That kind of gross ignorance cannot be allowed in local governance. It comes down to a race between a well-known (and somewhat combative) journalist, Holly Mullen, and a Republican Party insider, Richard Snelgrove. I e-mailed both candidates some questions and didn’t initially get a response. After a public upbraiding and second round of e-mails, I had received responses from both candidates within a couple of days.

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A Lack of Communication in the Salt Lake County Council At-Large Race

Oct
11

As a resident of an unincorporated township, I have a special interest in who gets elected to the Salt Lake County Council. After all, I depend on the county for police, fire, garbage, plow, and a host of other municipal services. Sadly, I’m finding that the two candidates I’d like to choose from don’t appear to be very interested in my vote.

On September 30, I e-mailed both Holly Mullen and Richard Snelgrove a series of questions about their candidacy. (I had already eliminated the Constitution Party candidate as entirely unqualified for the office.) As of this writing, I have received no response from either of them. Did I send offensive questions? Did I ask too many? Are they not relevant to the office which they seek? Check them out for yourself and you decide:

1) I currently reside in White City Township, an island surrounded by Sandy. Because of the close geographical proximity to Sandy and dependence on city businesses for darn near everything (gas, groceries, etc.), it almost feels as if we’re a non-voting part of the city. What role do you see the council playing in working with Sandy to insure that the needs of White City are being met?

2) Do you have any opinions about UTOPIA? If residents wanted to form a Special Assessment Area to bring UTOPIA services to their neighborhood, would you support or promote it?

3) While I appreciate the novel way in which the Unified Police District fee is being used to collect revenue in a level way from all property owners, I have concerns that this kind of creativity could provoke a negative response from the Legislature. Do you think any changes need to happen regarding the service fee? If so, what would you propose to augment or replace it?

4) As mentioned above, the legislature can sometimes pass bills targeted at restricting actions by local governments that they do not approve of. Do you currently have a working relationship with anyone in the Legislature so that the county is better heard?

5) It appears that most mass transit in Salt Lake County takes an “all roads lead to downtown” approach. I’m concerned that while this may maximize ridership, it sharply reduces usability for anyone not going there. At the same time, it seems like there’s a news story every few months about how money is being spent unwisely on personnel costs, primarily at the top. What kinds of measures will you propose to improve the operations of UTA?

Huh. Those seem like perfectly reasonable questions to me, but neither Mullen nor Snelgrove will respond. That leaves me to figure out what kind of elected official they would be based on their campaign websites and public profile. This, however, doesn’t end up being helpful at all.

Mullen doesn’t even bother to have an issue section on her website. No, I’m not making that up; go see for yourself. How can a candidate seeking an office to represent over 1M people not even be bothered to state her policy priorities? Combing through the blog on her site yields very little in the way of tangible positions. Most of it is thanking her supporters (who I can only imagine are either hardcore partisans or have the magic decoder ring required to see where she stands) or touting her various endorsements. Occasionally, you’ll find something about a relatively small portion of the job of running the county like old age services or open spaces. There’s nothing on townships, nothing on the policing fee, and nothing on any of the other core services managed by the county. Is Mullen expecting to coast to victory on her name recognition or party identification? It sure seems like it.

Snelgrove at least has the courtesy to list some issues, but it’s a somewhat incomplete list as well. Yes, I’d rather not see a county-funded hotel either and I like open spaces, but what about transportations, townships, and getting along with the legislature? There’s also the partisan attacks and constant complaining about liberals. News flash: not everyone is a partisan, and slamming a party with a thin majority in the county isn’t exactly a winning strategy. I’m also not impressed that Snelgrove goes on the attack about tax increases, yet fails to mention the deep cuts that the county made just the year before. Selective truth-picking isn’t a good quality.

For both of them, I have little hope that constituents will be heard after the election. They appear to both be content with the close supporters calling the shots. Failing to respond to an inquiry from a voter does not bode well for the future of the seat.

UPDATE: Both of them got back to me after a second e-mailing. I know campaigns are busy, but I don’t like how this bodes for future communications attempts.

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