Salt Lake County voters reward experience in primary contests

 The Salt Lake Tribunekj

Salt Lake County Republicans gave appointed incumbent Kevin Jacobs a shot at retaining his position as county assessor.

Jacobs captured 52 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s primary election to turn back GOP challenger Jake Parkinson. Democrats, meanwhile, also sided with experience in the county auditor’s race. Jeff Hatch, who held the office for one term before being defeated in 2010, beat Christopher Stout.

A 23-year veteran of the assessor’s office, Jacobs was selected to fill out the final year of his predecessor’s term after longtime assessor Lee Gardner left in September 2013 on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jacobs, Gardner’s chief deputy at the time, had his former boss’ support as well as that of the Salt Lake County Republican Party, which picked him over Parkinson in an internal party vote.

An appraisal supervisor in Tooele County, Parkinson contended the operation of the assessor’s office is behind the times and that new blood is needed to make it more efficient. Jacobs maintains that his experience and knowledge of the entire system is crucial to ongoing modernization efforts.

Jacobs will face Democrat Tyler Andrus in November.

In the auditor’s race, Hatch is attempting to regain the position he lost to Republican Greg Hawkins in 2010. He contends his background in the office will enable him to begin work immediately.

His challenger, Stout, is a businessman whose company advises multinational companies on risk and compliance issues. He previously ran for state treasurer on the Democratic ticket.

Hatch faces Republican Scott Tingley in November.

Outside of Salt Lake County, several other primary races drew light voter interest.

Primaries on tap for two Salt Lake County offices

Tuesday’s primary election represents round three in a competition between Republicans Kevin Jacobs and Jake Parkinson to be Salt Lake County’s assessor.

Round one went to Jacobs last September, when the county Republican Party picked him over Parkinson to complete the term of longtime assessor Lee Gardner, who resigned to go on an LDS Church mission. Jacobs was Gardner’s hand-picked replacement, based on his 23 years with the assessor’s office, including two as chief deputy.

Then the two rivals battled to a draw at April’s county GOP convention, neither securing enough delegate support to avoid a primary runoff.

Parkinson, an appraisal supervisor in the Tooele County Assessor’s Office, is hoping he can break through Tuesday on his third shot.

He contends the assessor’s office needs some fresh perspective because it is “30 years behind the times. Innovation will come with new vision and new leadership,” Parkinson said, maintaining he will make the office more efficient.

Jacobs counters that his experience is vital to running an assessment system as complex as Salt Lake County’s, which involves setting taxable values on almost 350,000 parcels.

He knows the office through and through, having been at various times its fiscal manager, administrative director and manager of the motor-vehicle section. “I’m definitely making changes to increase the performance of the office,” Jacobs said, citing changes in the ways appraisers are assigned work and proposals to streamline the appeals process.

The only other county government primary involves two Democrats vying to be auditor — former auditor Jeff Hatch and former state treasurer candidate Christopher Stout.

The winner goes up against Republican Scott Tingley, who unseated one-term incumbent Greg Hawkins at the GOP convention. Hawkins defeated Hatch in a close contest in 2010 after the Democrat served one term.

“I have the education and, most importantly, the experience to start working on day one,” Hatch said, noting that he was a founding member of Envision Utah, is chairman of the Pioneer Craft House board and is active in Rotary.

Stout similarly argues that experience is his strong suit. He has spent the last decade running a business that reviews multinational companies’ accounting systems for risk and compliance issues.

“I’m also a progressive Democrat. While I’m auditing the county books,” Stout added, “I’ll also be advocating for important social issues.”

Elsewhere, Utah County Republicans will choose between Bill Lee and Lorne Grierson to be their candidate to replace outgoing commissioner Doug Whitney. Lee is a former aide to Sen. Mike Lee, Grierson a businessman who owns marketing and media businesses.

Davis County Commissioner Bret Milburn is facing a GOP primary challenge from Brian Muir, a North Salt Lake City councilman. In Tooele County, banker Dean Johnson and retired Utah State University Extension Service agent Wade Bitner are seeking to fill a vacant commission seat

What does the Politician Say?

The Utah Alliance of Government Employees
would like to invite you to
Meet the Candidates

Salt Lake County Employees have two races they will see in the primaries.
We have invited;

Jeff Hatch
Christopher Stout
Running for the
Auditor’s Office
Kevin Jacobs
Jake Parkinson
Running for the
Assessor’s Office

We will ask each candidate a few questions and allow them time to address you, as employees, why they feel you should vote for them.

It doesn’t matter if you work for one of these two offices; they can and will help shape all county policy for the term of their election.
Come learn about these candidates from the candidates themselves. Make an informed decision on June 24th on who you want to see on the ballot for the 2014 election.

We will meet the candidates on

Friday, June 20th Beginning at 5:15 PM
In the Salt Lake County Council Chambers
2001 South State Street
North Building
We hope to see you there

UAGE does not endorse candidates. We do however encourage Members meet the candidates and make informed decision during the primaries and on Election Day

UAGE and The Political Process

polarized-politicsOne of the reasons people tell UAGE they do not want to join is because they do not think we should politically involved? I understand where this is coming from; many talk radio host keep saying that Employee organizations and Unions should not be involved in influencing politics.

Let’s separate the issue from one blanket statement into two separate parts; influencing policy and laws, and endorsing and supporting candidates.

Influencing policy and laws is what UAGE does and should be doing. When we work toward dignity and respect for all public employees, we want to ensure there is policy or law that will keep our efforts alive long term. To say we should not be involved in the day-to-day politics is to say that public employees should not have a voice nor an advocate.

In general, Public Employees are not paid what they are worth, they are under market value. We push for fair wages and benefits to make up the shortfalls. While it used to be that Public Employees benefits were better than private sector to offset the lower wages, that no longer stands true. Legislators are comparing benefits to the private sector, but not comparing their wages. UAGE continues to push that to compare one without the other is like driving a buggy without a horse; you have to look at the full package to make a proper comparison. If you do not have an employee advocate group pushing back, what do you have?

However, UAGE does not endorse candidates nor do we support them financially. First of all, there are laws to protect your dues money. UAGE has chosen to follow the letter and intent of the law while other organization have found legal was to manipulate dues collected and contribute your money to candidates you may not support.

We have chosen the stand because we know that our members are diverse in their politics. We have members in every political party. Each political party has some platforms and candidates that can support public employees. Which politician and which party should you support should remain your decision.

However UAGE will call out politicians that pass anti-employee legislation, and we will share their record with members and the communities they live. We believe that sharing their record lets you make an informed decision based on their actions, not just their words. When you are informed, we encourage you to donate your time or money to the candidates you feel will best represent your interest.

In short, anyone who tells you that UAGE should not be involved in politics is saying that want you to stay silent so they can have more power to push their agendas through. It’s together that we will influence the policies and laws that affect us every day at work.

Salt Lake County Primaries

canidatesSalt Lake County offices have a couple of elections in the primaries this year.

In the Assessor’s office; Kevin Jacobs, the incumbent, is being challenged by Jake Parkinson. And in the Auditor’s; Office there is Jeff Hatch running against Christopher Stout.

The primaries will decide who will run for these offices in their respective parties, and in some circumstances, who may be your boss.

UAGE does not endorse candidates, but we feel that it is important that members be involved in the election process.

Early voting is always a good option and begins on June 10th. Voting early ensures your voice is heard. Locations and hours to vote can be found here.

You can learn more about the election process on the Salt Lake County Clerks Website.

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When you join UAGE it gives all of us a stronger voice to positively change our wages, hours, and working conditions. Fill out the form below and become a member.
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