With the exception of the 3rd District congressional race, the hottest race in town is for Utah County attorney.
Two candidates accuse each other of misrepresentation and of not knowing the facts; a third is sitting silently by - admitting his chances of winning are slim.Democrat C. Robert Collins says the county attorney's office lacks leadership and professionalism.
"If my opponent is elected, things won't change. He's part of the `good old boy' system already," Collins said.
Republican Kay Bryson, who is a deputy county attorney, agrees that the office needs more leadership, but says the coun
ty attorney's office is doing a good job.
"I'm not (current County Attorney) Steve Killpack, and I don't do things like Steve Killpack," Bryson said.
Meanwhile, Independent Party candidate William S. Christian says he is the non-political alternative. He doesn't like the fact that the county attorney is an elected position and refused an invitation to have his photograph appear in the newspaper.
"I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat, and I'm not a politician," Christian says.
Collins is a graduate of the Brigham Young University law school. He was a police officer for 10 years and worked for two years for the Salt Lake County attorney's office. He managed a financial institution for six years and is a member of the Utah and Washington Bar associations.
Bryson has worked in the Utah County attorney's office since 1987 as a criminal prosecutor. He previously served as a law clerk for the 8th District Court in Las Vegas. For four years he was a judge in the 6th Precinct Court and the Payson City Justice Court. He graduated from Western States University College of Law in 1978.
Christian has a master's degree in management from the Krannert Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Purdue University and received his law degree from the BYU law school. He is counsel for a telephone legal service and a local financial planning firm.
The main issues in the race are the county attorney's role, plea bargaining and victims' rights.
Role of the county attorney
Collins says he would serve full time, with his priority being office management. He said his experience in civil matters can save the county money.
"If you don't properly handle that kind of litigation then you're going to cost the county a lot of money," he said.
Bryson says that as county attorney he too would serve in a full-time management position and promises to be accessible to the people. He said he will remain active in prosecution.
"My role will be to be here each and every day and to be actively involved in every aspect of what's going on around here," he said.
Christian says that after the first few months he would serve on a part-time basis. He said the county attorney should treat everyone equally and should be the watchdog for the county taxpayers.
"I don't have the expertise, but I will hire those who do," he said.
Collins says plea bargaining is appropriate in some circumstances but allowing each deputy attorney to determine when it is appropriate is wrong. He said the office needs an established policy. He said the Legislature has determined what the laws are and what the penalties should be. Without prosecution, he said, the deterrent factor is reduced.
"Our prosecutors have decided that they know more than the Legislature," he said.
Bryson says that because of the variety in each case a plea bargaining policy would not be efficient. He said no policy can take the place of an educated, caring, responsible and informed prosecutor. He said deterrent comes from penalties, which are determined by judges, not prosecutors.
"If the judge does not think the plea is proper, then he does not have to accept it," he said.
Christian also says plea bargaining should be used sparingly. He said plea bargaining takes away from the theory that people are innocent until proven guilty.
"You can't just railroad everybody through the system. If prosecution is done right you don't need plea bargaining," he said.
Collins says the county needs to be more responsive to victims and more active in pursuing grant money. The $20,000 the county received during the past year is not enough.
"That's a drop in the bucket compared to what's available," he said.
Bryson said most grant money for victim programs is new and the county will pursue any money available. He said all victims are contacted and advised of available help - some choose to participate and some don't.
"We want to provide anything the victims feel they need, but we don't want to force them to be a victim," he said.
Christian says victims are most satisfied when justice is served. He supports going after more grant money and says victims need to be more educated on how the justice system works.
"The system is not perfect, but it's the only one we have, and we need to work within the system," he said.