Based on press release activity, Randy Horiuchi has already slain a forest of trees in his quest for a Salt Lake County commission seat.

And the general election is still more than a month away.All through the pre-, primary- and now the general-campaign season, Horiuchi, a Democrat and a master of catchy slogans, has easily out-stunted his competition, Commissioner Tom Shimizu.

But now Shimizu, the Republican incumbent, is responding with some headline-grabbing work of his own, turning this commission race into a hailstorm of press releases.

"When Randy talks, how do you know when it is fact and how do you know when it is fiction?" Shimizu asked in a release, which he promises is the first in a series of 10. "With the weekly barrage of press releases and press conferences, the line has become blurred.

David Marshall, Shimizu's administrative assistant, said the campaign machinery is ready to roll now that the primary election is over. "You'll start seeing our presence quite quickly. You'll see the signs, the billboards. We're anxious to get into the campaign season, to start the debate process, to start getting our media efforts in tow.

"Randy wanted to debate last March."

"Sometimes the facts can get lost in the blur of a Horiuchi sermon," Shimizu wrote. "His quips are fun, his barbs entertaining, but they lack substance, basis and fact."

Shimizu admits his opponent is colorful, but now that the primary election is over he plans to respond to Horiuchi's challenges. "We try to do our work quietly and not do it through the media. We accomplish a lot that way.

"I don't think he does anything unless it is through the media. I guess you would call it `administration through the media,' " the commissioner said.

Shimizu's press release spotlights a quote from Horiuchi's friend and political ally, Rep. Frank Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, who said that Horiuchi, as state Democratic party chairman, created a new issue every week.

"Not only every week," Shimizu said. "He does it twice or three times a week. I've never seen anybody like him. He's quite prolific with press releases."

Shimizu said he issued his own release to "unmask the myths" Horiuchi is making.

On Sept. 7, for example, Horiuchi held press conference to say the present all-Republic commission, who have logged nearly 10 years serving together, have created a "boondoggle of upper-level manager bureaucracy." The county has abdicated its decisionmaking powers to "faceless and voter-unaccountable" managers.

Horiuchi promises to establish a "Little Hoover" commission of local businessmen to examine layers of county bureaucracy. And he wants to develop a "business volunteer corps," all in an effort to save "millions."

But Shimizu counters that the county is actually serving 16 percent more people with 13 percent fewer employees than when he was appointed to the commission in 1981.

Creative use of technology, a highly educated work force and an army of volunteers makes Salt Lake County's work force one of the most efficient in the country, Shimizu asserts. Salt Lake County has 38 employees per 10,000 residents, while the national average is 75 employees per 10,000.