Salt Lake County Commission hopeful Randy Horiuchi may be behind in the polls, but that hasn't kept him from campaigning against all three commission members.
At a debate Thursday with his real campaign opponent, incumbent Republican M. Tom Shimizu, Horiuchi continued to launch attacks on the commission collectively and on Shimizu in particular. He also mentioned County Commission "monkey business," referring to his latest newspaper and broadcast campaign spots that peg the three Republican County Commissioners as the "see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil" monkeys.Horiuchi's newest ad campaign began after the results of a poll by Dan Jones & Associates showed the former State Democratic Chairman trailing Shimizu 52 percent to 29 percent.
The advertisements do not mention Horiuchi's opponent or the other two commissioners by name.
On Friday, Horiuchi accused the commission of losing touch with the public by being in office too long. Over the past 10 years, the three current commissioners have been in office a collective total of 27 years.
Over that time, commissioners have begun to develop a loyalty to each other and have insulated government functions from the public, Horiuchi said. He added that he will promote legislation that would limit commissioners to two four-year terms regardless of whether he becomes elected.
Shimizu said it is not fair to talk of his seven years as a Salt Lake County commissioner in terms of the entire commission's collective tenure. Should County Treasurer Art Monson, who has been in office 16 years, also be thrown out because of his length of service there, Shimizu asked?
Several Democrats in elected county offices have referred to Horiuchi's earliest campaign slogan, "Let's Clean House," in terms of its seemingly blanket suggestion that they, too, should be voted out. Besides the treasurer, the county attorney, sheriff and surveyor are all Democrats.
Horiuchi has since abandoned the early slogan and has made his attacks more pointedly against the incumbent Republican commissioners.
Responding to questions from the audience at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, the candidates voiced their positions on the following local political issues:
Ligh-rail mass transit
Horiuchi said officials should continue to acquire right of way for light rail and even expand their plans to include an east-west rail line. But he also said additional lanes should be added to the freeway and other transportation systems should be improved before a light-rail system is built.
Shimizu said he has been working to improve and widen county roads to ease the traffic flow while working to obtain the right of way needed for a light-rail system. "Some form of mass-transit system has to be in place soon," he said, but the attitude to use mass transit also has to be developed.
There is a current need for $500 million to improve the Salt Lake area street system while local governments have about $10 million available for the work. "I feel that we must take care of our surface roadways now. However, mass transit must come into place because of air quality that we want to maintain for the future, and for the movement of the general public," Shimizu said.
Sponsoring the Olympics
Both candidates said they support Salt Lake City's work to win the 1998 Winter Olympics bid.
"I feel very strongly that we should try to get the Olympics here. I believe it will help us economically as well as have the eyes of the world upon us so that they can see what a good place Salt Lake is," Shimizu said, adding that he doesn't believe an Olympics bid will create havoc in area growth.
Horiuchi said the Olympics would help make Salt Lake County the capital for winter sports. "The Olympics is a one-shot deal, but the lasting benefit is to have the facilities here," he said. At the same time, environmental sensitivities should remain an integral part of all Olympics planning.
Wall-to-wall cities and city-county relationships
Horiuchi said several incorporation attempts in recent years point to residents' frustration with county services. "If the county does a good job, there is no need for incorporation." He said he supports wall-to-wall cities if municipal services like police and fire protection can be shared to eliminate bureaucratic duplication.
Shimizu said the incorporation attempts, all of which failed, demonstrate people living in unincorporated areas of the county would rather receive county services than become part a city. Annexations and incorporations can interrupt the continuity of delivering municipal services, Shimizu said, but he generally supports annexations and incorporations if people decide that's what they want.
Shimizu said the right mix of administration-level personalities must be in place before police services in the county can be combined.