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County commission races focus on taxes, generating jobs

Published October 14, 2012 1:17 pm

Election • Voters in Davis, Weber and Utah counties to elect commissioners on Nov. 6.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Voters in Davis, Weber and Utah counties will choose representatives to sit on their respective county commissions next month. Here's a look at how the races are shaping up:

Davis County •Not surprisingly, given the state of the economy, financial matters, from salaries to taxes, are among the major issues in the Davis County Commission race.

Facing off for a four-year term are Republican John Petroff Jr., the incumbent, and Democrat Steve Andersen. Both describe themselves as a fiscal conservative and both say they have a commitment not to raise taxes.

Andersen says commissioners are overpaid and pledges that he will work for free, forgoing what he estimates would be about $171,000 a year in salary and benefits.

"I want to restore public service back to public servants," he said. He also pledges to do more with less by streamlining government and creating a business friendly environment, to avoid debt and to use discernment when seeking bonds.

Andersen, 48, a Farmington resident, owns several companies. He served four years on the Farmington Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment and has served five years on the Patient Safety and Culture Committee for Intermountain Health Care.

Petroff, who sparred over the salary issue with his opponent in the Republican primary earlier this year, said he typically works 50 to 60 hours a week dealing with county issues and representing citizens on various boards.

The most important aspect of the job is to be careful with tax dollars, according to Petroff. And he contends that his experience as a small business owner and an elected official makes him the best candidate for commissioner.

"There's a lot to know about the job and I know it," he said.

Petroff, 67, of West Point is a small business owner. He served as a member of the West Point City Council from 1999 until he was elected mayor in 2001. He left that office when he became a Davis County commissioner in 2009.

Weber County • With Weber County Commissioner Craig Dearden not seeking a third term, his seat is up for grabs, and candidates Matthew Bell and Corey Combe are busy pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in an effort to gain votes.

Bell, 51, chairs the Weber County Republican Party and also works as a lieutenant in the Weber County Sheriff's Office. He currently owns Weber Self Storage and is previous owner of Bell Photographers, a business in which he still serves as a partner.

"I have experience in both the private and public sector," Bell said, "and understand how important it is not to spend money you don't have."

Combe, 61, describes himself as an independent running on the Democratic ticket. He grew up milking cows at his family's South Ogden dairy, and in 1972 launched a successful landscaping and nursery business. He also develops commercial and residential properties in Weber and Davis Counties.

"I will show up to work — you can pretend to care about things, but you can't pretend to show up," Combe said of his commonsense approach to problem-solving.

One task he hopes to tackle, if elected, is to generate better paying jobs.

"We need to stimulate growth so that our young people can earn enough money so they can live," Combe said. "I was told two days ago that we have county employees who qualify for welfare assistance. Something is amiss there."

When asked what voters want to talk about as he meets them face-to-face, Bell had two words: Mitt Romney.

"Everyone wants to talk about him," Bell said, "and that will definitely bring people out to vote."

The winner of November's election will join Jan Zogmaister and Kerry Gibson on Weber County's three-member commission.

Utah County • Incumbent Utah County Commissioner Larry A. Ellertson, a Republican from Lindon, and his opponent, Larry L. Ballard, a Constitution Party candidate from Salem, each have different visions for Utah County, a place that's home to 11 of the state's 12 fastest-growing cities.

Ellertson, who served as mayor of Lindon before his election to the commission in 2005, said his main goals are related to transportation, fiscal responsibility, safety, growth and balance.

Ballard's goals include allowing residents to use gold and silver, now allowed as legal tender in Utah, to pay property taxes. He also wants to protect residents' property rights and limit federal control from local education.

Ellertson has stated on a blog that his top priority is to "find long-term solutions to Utah County's critical transportation issues."

Ballard says since the legislature has passed The Legal Tender Act leaders need to support it because the value of the dollar is failing and a back up plan is needed.

"All I'm saying is we need to get behind what has already been done,"said Ballard, who has worked as fire marshal for Orem for 27 years.

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