The two candidates running for the two-year Utah County Commission seat are stressing experience, clean air, water rights and county growth in their campaigns.
George Tripp, a Democrat, said electing him to the position will bring balance back to the County Commission.A clean sweep of the commission seats may be just what the county needs to avoid the kind of controversies that have plagued it in recent years, Tripp said.
"Good government happens when there is a two-party system," Tripp said.
Republican Gary Herbert believes good government is not based on party affiliation but on qualifications. His commitment and the experience he's gained during four months in office "make the difference" in his ability to serve the county effectively.
The Utah County Republican Central Committee selected Herbert in June to fill the seat vacated by Brent Morris, who resigned to run for Con
gress. County Commissioners Malcolm Beck and Sid Sandberg approved Herbert's selection.
Tripp said the county would benefit from his experience as mayor of Lehi and his longtime public involvement. The main reason he is running is to "bring a good name back to the County Commission and we certainly don't enjoy that at the present time."
Tripp served as mayor of Lehi from 1983 to 1990. While mayor, he served on the board of directors of the Timpanogos Special Service District, the Council of Governments and Mountainland Council of Governments. He also has been director of the Lehi City Civic Improvement Association, a member of Lehi City's Personnel Board and director of the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Herbert vowed to bring stability to the "circus-like atmosphere" surrounding the commission when he was appointed to office.
"My first priority was to move ahead on a positive note," Herbert said. "I think I've done that."
Herbert, an Orem resident who worked as a real estate agent before accepting political office, believes the biggest challenge facing Utah County is growth because it impacts all city and county services.
"We are going to have growth whether we are in favor of it or not," he said. "The only question is are we going to have good, proper growth. . . . My background will help ensure we have proper growth."
Part of that "proper growth" will occur through the realignment of the Utah Valley Economic Development Association with the county, which Herbert has pushed while in office.
Tripp, who works as a cabinetmaker for the Alpine School District, believes one of the biggest concerns facing the county is protection of water rights. He said the county needs to assist cities in securing water allocations from the Central Utah Project.
Tripp said 20,000 acre-feet of water has been allocated to Provo, Orem and north Utah County cities but only Orem has applied for rights to the water.
"If we don't do something that water will go to (Salt Lake County), Tripp said. "That is a concern of mine. I want to work to make sure that water stays in our county. Our cities and county are going to grow . . . we need what water we can get. We can't afford to let it go."
Both candidates believe it is possible to have clean air, clean water and jobs in the county. They say Geneva Steel should be applauded for its efforts to clean up its operations; pressure should be put on the mill's management if the company does not comply with state and federal regulations, however.
"We need to give them a chance (to clean up) rather than trying to shut Geneva down," Tripp said.
In a related clean air issue, Tripp supports relocating interstate, non-destinational truck traffic from Provo Canyon to Parley's Canyon.
Herbert said Geneva Steel is an asset to the local economy.
"I believe we have the technology to have both clean air, clean water and jobs," he said.
Because neither side in the clean-air debate is angry at him, Herbert believes he can be a "conduit" to bring the factions together and resolve clean-air problems.
Both candidates said the county has done a good job with its austere budget. Herbert said the county, which provides government at the lowest per capita cost in the state, will depend on natural growth to provide increased revenues to maintain services.
Tripp, however, said it is a "shame that the second largest county in the state can't produce a quality county fair." He would work to bring the Utah County Fair back.