Long-time Sevier County Commissioner T. Merlin Ashman of Redmond and newcomer Gene Mendenhall of Richfield are expected to quietly slip into commission chairs without even worrying about the outcome of the general election. They won their posts in the primary and are unopposed in the Nov. 6 election.
It's the first time many can remember that a Democratic slate has been totally absent for a general election, although very few Democrats have won election in the traditionally strong Republican county.Mendenhall replaces Jay F. Gardner, who chose not to seek re-election. The candidate defeated Donnell Spencer in the primary, 1,869-1,517, to get on the ballot for the uncontested seat in the general election. Ashman defeated former Salina Mayor Grant Stubbs, 1,753-1,570.
Property tax for schools
A recall for a school leeway tax to finance computer technology will get a lot more attention in the general election than the candidates. The issue went down to defeat by a narrow margin in the primary election when about 600 of those who voted for candidates failed to cast a vote for the leeway tax. School board members feel the issue was not well understood.
The money that would be raised from the leeway is needed to take advantage of state funding that is available for 32-station computer labs and other needs pertinent to the program. Board members have pledged that if learning skills of students involved in the technology does not improve by 10 percent in three years, they will remove the leeway tax.
The district will receive about $3 in state funding for each dollar the leeway tax would raise. The owner of a home valued at $83,000 would pay about $20 per year if voters approve the leeway the second time around.
Six Republicans are seeking a return to office in addition to commissioners. All six are running unopposed and adding to the quietness of the general election. Returning to offices will be Pam Hendrickson, assessor; Don Brown, attorney; Steven C. Wall, clerk/auditor; Dorothy Vee Henrie, recorder; John L. Meacham, sheriff; and Leda Jensen, treasurer.
Residents will get a chance to cast votes for one of two Sevier County natives, Bradley Johnson or E. Dean Christensen, who are seeking the seat in the Utah House of Representatives representing District 71.
Commissioner T. Merlin Ashman, at 74, is a retired accountant and rancher.
Promising to keep the public better informed about the business of county government, he said, "Most problems between citizens and elected officials are a lack of communication."
Ashman said the almost continuous flow of state and federal mandates keeps pressure on elected officials. "Environmental protection laws regarding solid waste, clean air and clean water are recent examples."
A new landfill is one of the major problems facing the commission, Ashman said, and commissioners have studied upwards of 20 potential sites.
Gene Mendenhall's primary campaign revolved around equality for all citizens in county programs, more availability of commissioners to the public, opposition to wilderness designation and expanding local business opportunities. He sees a need for more industrial development but said, "If we can promote growth within our county with existing enterprises it would represent a greater impact than bringing in new businesses."
Mendenhall frowns on "bickering" between communities, saying, "We shouldn't look at it as individual municipalities but as one community encompassing Sevier County as a whole." At 66, he is retired after operating a clothing store for 45 years.