Primaries on tap for two Salt Lake County offices
Election • Democrats will choose between auditor candidates, GOP between assessors.
Published: June 22, 2014 08:06PM
Updated: June 22, 2014 03:44PM

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.

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg