Candidates for several of Salt Lake County's elected offices generally agree that the importance of the job they seek doesn't always mean the campaign will be interesting.
While sparks have been flying in the County Commission and sheriff's races this year, the campaigns for assessor, auditor, clerk, recorder, treasurer and surveyor have had a much lower profile - as usual."Who cares whether the county clerk gets elected or not?" asked County Clerk H. Dixon Hindley, echoing the attitude of incumbents who said they are too busy running their offices to spend time running a campaign. Similar sentiments were expressed by other hopefuls whose campaigns have had little public notice because higher-profile races have grabbed all of the media attention.
Every elected Salt Lake County position except the commission seat held by Michael Stewart will be on the ballot Tuesday, and every incumbent is seeking re-election.
It is generally accepted that incumbency gives a candidate the advantage over a challenger for the office. And challengers often find it hard to get financial support for their campaigns. "I'd like to have a lot more money, but it's hard when you're running against an incumbent," said Harold Black, who had raised and spent only $300 on his campaign as of a week ago, while incumbent Auditor Craig Sorensen, a Republican, had raised $7,153.
Political action groups usually give some financial support to the candidates they endorse in the so-called "minor" county races, but the PACs save their big contributions for the neck-and-neck races for offices with higher profiles.
"The election process should be enough to bring the interest, but it doesn't," County Clerk candidate Sherrie Swensen said.
"Only a very few people have actually come face to face with the campaign," said Richard Miller, who is trying to unseat four-term County Recorder Katie Dixon.
And while most of the candidates told the Deseret News that they have attended a dozen or more "meet the candidate" events during their campaigns, the turnout at such events is typically low. "The candidates outnumber the citizens in most of the places we've gone," County Clerk candidate Betty Christensen said.
For County Commission Seat A, Democrat Jim Bradley is challenging 10-year incumbent Bart Barker, a Republican. Bradley almost defeated Stewart two years ago.
In the other County Commission race, Republican Tom Shimizu is being challenged by former state Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi. Shimizu was appointed to the commission in 1981 and re-elected in 1982 and 1984 before he unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1986. He returned to the commission after the 1988 election.
(The Salt Lake County Commission races will be spotlighted in stories Saturday in the Deseret News.)