Salt Lake County Surveyor M. Carl Larsen, a Democrat, is the only Salt Lake County elected official facing an inside challenger in Tuesday's election.
Republican Robert Smeltzer has worked for the surveyor's office for 24 years and describes the campaign against his boss as "a ticklish situation."Campaign efforts, Smeltzer said, have been complicated by office staff meetings and other job demands. He questions Larsen's outside business interests and believes they keep Larsen from being as effective as he could be with the surveyor's office. "Carl may be legal in what he's done, but I don't think it's ethical."
Larsen said maintaining an outside business is not uncommon for elected officials whose elected post is more of a tour of duty than a career. "I'd hate to be in a position where if I lost (the election) I wouldn't have anything to do," Larsen said, adding that his son and business partner attend to most of the private surveying and engineering company duties.
Larsen said being challenged for the office by an insider is "awkward and uncomfortable."
"There are times when you're at a meet-the-candidates event and he'll say something that I take personally, but I realize that's how the system works," Larsen said. "I'd rather have had a challenger from outside the organization, but that's how it goes."
Larsen said his re-election campaign has been endorsed by the Home Builders of Greater Salt Lake, the Salt Lake Board of Realtors and labor representatives, including the state AFL-CIO and Teamsters.
Smeltzer said that in addition to his 24 years with the county, he has worked nine years with the Salt Lake City engineer's office, is past president of the Utah Council of Land Surveyors, is chairman of the Utah Chapter of the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping and is the county surveyor's office field division administrator.