Jim Shea

2002 Olympic gold medal champion Jim Shea Jr. says he hopes he will be allowed to run in his Summit County Utah House district as a Republican, but the issue of his legal residence is now up to the state Elections Office.

Shea, who has spent a lot of time in his Summit County residence, says he does not recall voting in a November 2003 election in Lake Placid, N.Y. "They are looking at my signature" on that election ballot, "but I sure don't remember voting," Shea said Tuesday.

Utah law says you must be a resident of the state for three years before you run for a Utah legislative office, said Utah Democratic spokesman Jim Bell.

Shea, a third-generation Olympian, won the skeleton at the Bear Hollow track in the 2002 Olympics. He has since been active around Utah, addressing the House Republican caucus last year asking for more state funds to keep the Winter Olympic facilities active and well-maintained.

"It's pretty clear that he voted in New York" 2 1/2 years ago, said Bell. "We've already lost three of our legislative candidates due to appeals" by Utah GOP leaders, said Bell. "This is part of the process."

Bell said a Democratic college student in Weber County was two months shy of the three-year residency requirement and couldn't run, and two military veterans coming back into Utah this week can't run because they were out of the state and couldn't file in person last Friday — another state requirement.

"I did everything that the (Summit County) clerk asked me to do," said Shea, "I suppose it is now up to the Lieutenant Governor's Election Office. I hope I can run. I love the Wasatch Back, I've lived here a long time. I hope to get a fresh face in the Legislature."

Shea, if he can stay in the race, is running for an open seat against former House speaker Mel Brown, also a Republican; Libertarian Gary Shumway; Republican Dee Putnam; and Democrat Laura Bonham.

District 53 is Republican in nature; it's been held by Rep. Dave Ure, R-Kamas, for 14 years. Ure is running for the state Senate this year.

E-mail: bbjr@desnews.com