Among the contested races and measures on my 2022 election ballot are races for Utah State Treasurer, Utah State House District 53, Utah County Commission Seat A, Utah County Clerk, Alpine School Board District 4, a proposed amendment to the Utah Constitution, and approval of a proposed Alpine School District bond issue. There are several uncontested races, which is unfortunate, no matter how good the lone candidates in those races may be.
Here I present state, county, and local contests in the order in which they appear on my ballot. With so many races it would be awkward to separate information and opinion, so I don’t. (In my previous post, on US Senate and House races on my ballot, which fairly drips with opinion, I did.)
Please remember that mailed ballots must be postmarked by Monday, November 7. We can also leave our ballots at drop boxes around the county through 8:00 p.m. on Election Day (Tuesday, November 8).
Utah State Treasurer
Four candidates for Utah State Treasurer are on my ballot:
- Incumbent Marlo M. Oaks (Republican) – https://www.marlooaks.com/
- Thomas Alan Horne (United Utah Party) – http://vote.talanhorne.com/
- Warren T. Rogers (Independent American Party) – https://warren-t-rogers.net/
- Joseph Geddes Buchman (Libertarian) – (campaign website not found)
I’m probably a typical voter, in the sense that the Utah State Treasurer isn’t really on my radar screen. I haven’t paid any attention to the incumbent’s performance in office, for example. However, my enthusiasm spiked when I saw this item on the menu of his campaign website: “Stop ESG.”
If you don’t know what ESG is, it’s time to find out. Here’s Oaks’ explanation of ESG. Soaring energy prices and jeopardized energy supplies are just the tip of the iceberg. Freedom itself is in jeopardy.
I’ll vote for Marlo Oaks with some enthusiasm.
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Utah State Senate, District 21
Republican incumbent Mike Kennedy is unopposed. While I think candidates running unopposed in elections, especially general elections, is bad for good government, I haven’t the power to conjure good candidates to oppose them. More to the present point, I’ll offer no opinions as to whom we should vote for in uncontented races.
Here’s Kennedy’s campaign website: https://kennedyforutah.org/
Utah State House of Representatives District 53
My ballot lists three candidates for Utah House District 53:
- W. Andrew McCullough (Libertarian) – If this is the same Andrew McCullough who ran for Utah Attorney General a few years ago, the main link to his website redirects to an e-commerce page.
- Incumbent Kay J. Christofferson (Republican) – I can only find an old campaign website, not a current one.
- Ann Schreck (Democrat) – https://schreckforutah.com/
In my view, a decent respect for the voters requires a campaign website which voters can easily find and which actually works. In this race only Ann Schreck clears that low bar. The next test is whether the website explains the candidate’s views and intentions related to specific policy questions. Ms. Schreck’s doesn’t; all I get there are platitudes.
I haven’t had too many beefs with Mr. Christofferson’s votes, and he’s going to win by a country mile. So maybe I’ll vote for him. Maybe I won’t vote in this race at all, since he doesn’t seem to value my vote enough to help me with a substantive campaign website. Either way, I currently have no enthusiasm for candidates with “LIB” or “DEM” after their names.
Utah State School Board, District 11
Incumbent Republican Cindy Davis is running unopposed — which, again, isn’t ideal. On the happy side of the ledger, she is highly regarded in my community, where she was principal of Shelley Elementary.
Here’s her campaign website: https://cindydavisforschoolboard.com/
Utah County Commission Seat A
Here are three candidates for this seat:
- Incumbent Amelia Powers Gardner (Republican) — https://www.amelia.vote/
- Tom Tomeny (unaffiliated) – https://www.nomoneypolitics.com/
- Jeanne Bowen (Democrat) – http://votebowen.weebly.com/
Amelia Gardner was elected to fill a midterm vacancy last year.
I’d like to see one candidate on my ballot who would keep alive an issue that was at the forefront recently: changing Utah County’s form of government. Three commissioners, elected at large, are too few to represent a large and growing population. And we ought to have the good sense to separate the executive and legislative branches of our county government. Otherwise there’s too much potential for insularity and mischief.
If we judge candidates by their campaign websites — at least these three have them — then I have to say both Powers’ and Bowen’s sites are light on substance. Tomeny’s site has some meat on the bone, but it’s fairly exotic meat, you might say. See what you think.
I’m no longer a Republican, but my default position (not always my final position) is to vote Republican, when I lack specific knowledge of candidates that would direct me otherwise. However I vote in this race, I’m confident Powers will win.
Utah County Commission Seat B
Incumbent Republican Brandon Gordon is unopposed for this seat. Here’s his campaign website: http://electgordon.com/.
Utah County Attorney
Republican Jeff Gray is unopposed. The real victory is that he defeated incumbent David Leavitt in the Republican primary. Leavitt was a pale copy of the George Soros-backed extreme leftist prosecutors who have ruined law enforcement in several large US cities.
Even in Utah County, this pendulum swung far to the left in recent years. I hope the enhanced scrutiny of the office that resulted will keep the pendulum from swinging all the way to the opposite extreme. I am guardedly optimistic.
Here is Jeff Gray’s campaign website: https://electjeffgray.org/home
Utah County Auditor
Republican Rod Mann is unopposed. Here is his campaign website: https://www.rodforutah.com/
Utah County Clerk
The candidates are these:
- Aaron Davidson (Republican) – https://davidsonclerk.com/
- Jake Oaks (Independent American) – (no campaign website found)
I’ll vote for Aaron Davidson. He has the virtue of intending — so he says — to clean up the voter rolls, which is even more urgent and crucial now that we vote by mail. It’s not that the voter rolls are full of fake voters; it’s that people move or die, but stay on the rolls. At my house, we received four ballots for this election, only two of which are for people who can legally vote in this election Most people will act properly in this situation, I believe, but the potential for mischief is too great.
Several years ago I studied the voter rolls for my neighborhood (part of my precinct). Roughly 30 percent of the registered voters were, for one reason or another, no longer at the addresses where they were registered. Only a handful were at other addresses within the precinct. There’s a lot of work to do.
There are stories here and there that Jake Oaks, if elected, will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the famous Supreme Court decision that requires it. Whatever your views of that issue — or mine — I’m not crazy about the cost to taxpayers of the inevitable lawsuits (in dollars and distraction). Moreover, I think that if someone is not willing to fulfill the statutory duties of an office, one should not run for that office.
Utah County Sheriff
Incumbent Republican Mike Smith is unopposed. https://www.mikesmith.vote/
Alpine School District Board of Education District 4
Because of redistricting which takes effect for the coming term, this race has two incumbents running for a single seat:
Here’s a link to an April 8 debate which also included candidate Lana Nelson, who was eliminated in the primary. I recommend it. Once you get past the opening statements, which are often more personal than political, the substance-to-platitude ratio is quite high. The candidates take up a host of difficult current issues, from tax burdens and third-party data gathering about students and their families to gender identity and Critical Race Theory. As a voter, I think it’s useful to see how candidates both think and speak on substance.
Most of what I know of Amber Bonner is based on that debate. Sarah Beeson has been my friend and neighbor for years.
Both Beeson and Bonner excel at communication. Their approaches differ slightly; Bonner prefers her blog and social media; Beeson prefers e-mail and phone calls. But that doesn’t matter. I clearly remember two recent four-year terms where my elected representative on the Alpine School Board did his best to be helpful in other matters, but declined to offer his personal views on specific issues relevant to his duties, even when I asked. I expect better, but some school board members see their primary role as something other than representing the voters. That’s why the Utah Legislature was moved to codify representation as the primary duty of local school boards. I’m confident that neither of these candidates needs that reminder.
Family lore includes a story about a parent approaching an Alpine School District official with a concern about a particular child. That official said he was responsible for thousands of students and couldn’t pause to worry about just one. I’m confident that both these candidates are better than that too.
Amber Bonner is a strong candidate too, but I’m voting for Sarah Beeson. Her politics are mostly compatible with mine, as I know from many conversations over the years — but even if that were not true, I think friendship is a perfectly appropriate reason for casting a vote. And she has one other advantage over her opponent for me: she gets the arts. (With Bonner I don’t know either way. I’m not saying she doesn’t.)
Sarah Beeson is a strong supporter of the arts. I’m not opposed to sports; junior high and high school sports did me a world of good, when I was a student. But sports programs rarely lack advocates on school boards. Arts programs, including music, often do. People involved in local schools’ arts programs speak highly of Sarah’s active and effective support.
I don’t have any personal experience with the judges on my 2022 ballot for retention. The state has a website with some information, including results of a survey about each judge. Follow this link, choose Utah County (or whichever county you inhabit), and then look in the list for the judges on your ballot: https://knowyourjudges.utah.gov/s/.
Again, I have no personal experience here, but you might take a look at D. Scott Davis, if he’s on your ballot. He faired poorly in the survey, by comparison. Click “View More” by his name in the list and see what you think.
Utah Constitutional Amendment A
We recently amended the Utah Constitution to allow the Utah Legislature to call itself into special session without having to rely on the governor to do so. There were fairly narrow limits on what they could do; now they want to broaden those limits. Bear in mind that the limits only apply to sessions the legislature calls, not sessions the governor calls.
Given the frequency — in my interpretation — of the governor having to veto the legislature’s excesses, and given that the original amendment was offered as something that would only rarely be used (which has turned out not to be true), I’m inclined to vote against the amendment, mostly to avoid weakening the governor’s check on the legislature.
Alpine School District Bond Proposal
The Alpine School District wants the voters to approve the issue of $595 million in bonds, for the construction of new schools, needed rebuilds and renovations of existing schools, safety and security improvements, and land acquisition (for still more new schools).
Here are some opposing arguments which do not move me, with my comments.
- It’s too much debt. This sounds to me like, “that’s a really big number!” Well, it’s a really big school district, with the rapid, sustained growth which strains school districts through much of the state. There’s no attempt in the opposition rhetoric to define what enough debt would be. Somehow we just know that the proposed number is too much.
- It’s the “largest school bond in Utah history.” It’s also the largest school district in Utah. I’m suspicious of largest/smallest/worst/best-in-history arguments generally, because they’re so often transparently false to anyone with more historical memory than a goldfish, but let’s assume that this one is true. It still means little unless (a) it is true in inflation-adjusted real dollars, and (b) it is true per capita — either per student or per household or per taxpayer. Some comparative data on student population growth would offer a useful perspective too. I haven’t seen any such data from opponents; perhaps it’s too hard to spin. Until I do, this is just another “wow, that’s a really big number!” argument. It’s about the shock value, not the facts in context.
- The district has offered no specifics about how the money will be spent. This is an overworked, knee-jerk criticism offered of nearly every bond issue I’ve ever encountered — even when it’s easily disproven, as in this case. I have a sheet in front of me listing the priorities quite specifically; I believe it was mailed to every address in the Alpine School District. (You can see it here.) There’s always some doubt as to how far down such a list we can go with a given amount of money; construction and other costs are dynamic, not fixed. But that doesn’t mean they’re not telling us how they will spend the money.
- There’s no accountability. I’m not sure what this means, except that opponents don’t have a lot of substance to offer. This too is a nearly universal trope in opposing bond issues. It’s not as if they can legally spend the money on something other than what they propose to the voters. And we’re not suspending school board elections. What other accountability should there be?
- It’s irresponsible, when everyone’s cost of living is already rising, due to sustained inflation and other factors. I disagree with this too, though I feel the strain of prices which are increasing faster than any official inflation rate, and I’m also trying not to watch my 401(k). I think the ASD’s plan is a judicious, responsible approach to a sustained, high rate of growth that would strain any community’s fiscal resources.
- It’s not fair. Some cities get a lot of money, and others get none. Making sure everyone gets something in order to get a measure passed is how we get pork-barrel politics, not fiscal prudence. Some cities got new schools and rebuilt schools in the last bond or the one before that, and they don’t need any more new schools right now. Some cities’ student populations are stable or shrinking, and while brunt of the growth is in a few cities in the district, not all of them.
Opponents of this proposed bond issue have a website: https://www.NoBond.org. It’s worth a look — a thoughtful, reflective look, not a quick, agitated look.
I’m comfortable voting for the bond issue for several reasons.
- Growth won’t just go away if we refuse to pay for new schools to accommodate it.
- As government entities go, the Alpine School District is well managed, in fiscal terms.
- The ASD carefully staggers (layers) bonds so that old bonds are paid off as new ones begin, minimizing the effect on taxes.
- The ASD has a very favorable bond rating (credit rating).
In a curious development, someone sent a fake press release to KSL, which KSL published without seeking confirmation. It was reportedly aimed at persuading voters to defeat this bond issue. It listed schools in Orem which ASD supposedly is planning to close — but really isn’t. That’s a big mistake by at least one writer and at least one editor, and a sleazy play by someone.
I wonder if it was meant to sway the vote in Orem on leaving the Alpine School District to form an Orem district. That interesting issue is not on my ballot — I don’t live in Orem — so I haven’t commented here.
Having considered issues and candidates as best we can, let’s not forget to mail our ballots on time (no later than Monday) or use a drop box on Tuesday. When we do, perhaps we can pause for a moment of gratitude that we have meaningful elections at all, and that we usually have candidates who are willing to run in them, despite slings and arrows and irritating bloggers like me.
Photo credit: Sora Shimazaki at Pexels.com.
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