After a petition count Tuesday night, tax revolt organizers say they have enough names to get three controversial tax rollback measures on the ballot, but they want to gather 23,000 more signatures to ensure the petitions make it through reviews by county clerks.
"We have got to work hard to get enough signatures that make sure no matter how many patsy politicians they have with sharp pencils and red crayons, they won't be able to cross out enough names to keep us from putting these petitions on the ballot," said Mills Crenshaw, a radio talk show host and Utah Tax Limitation Coalition leader.More than 300 people packed the Salt Lake County Commission chambers and the adjoining lobby to hear the results and cheer on pro-rollback candidates, including independent gubernatorial hopeful Merrill Cook.
"I wish I could stand here tonight and tell you to go home and sleep. We have approximately 67,000 signatures for petitions. The legal number we need is about 63,000," said Greg Beesley, another tax revolt leader. "There is going to be a percentage of those names that aren't going to be any good."
The petition promoters want to gather 90,000 signatures before June 1 because about 34 percent of the signature names will likely be disqualified as they are checked by county clerks, Beesley said.
If the the movement doesn't get the rollback initiatives on the ballot, the tax protesters are all going to be laughed out of the state, Beesley said during a rally marked by standing ovations and the crowd chanting "no more taxes."
Some people carried signs sporting the slogan, "Greg Beesley for Governor," hoping to convince Beesley to use his tax revolt following to run for the state's top office. Beesley, instead, pledged his support to Cook and asked the crowd to donate money to Cook's cause.
Appearing at the gathering with
his family, Cook said, "The issues in the race are not only taxes, but educational reform and a program to get Utah's stagnated economy going again," Cook said.
"Government has got to remove the barriers to opportunity. If you remove the barriers we will have success in our families and in our schools, in our businesses and in our lives. There is nothing more a barrier to opportunity than the fact that Utah has among the highest sales and income taxes in the country."
Lloyd Selleneit, a former state legislator, told those gathered to attend mass meetings April 25 to help get the tax revolt message written into party platforms. He said powerful special interest groups, like the Utah Education "Take your friends, take 50 people, and you'll change the direction of politics in Utah," he said.
Beesley warned revolt participants to be wary of the Utah anti-tax revolt organization and its organizing committee.
"This committee, the big guns committee, will come out with some very polished advertising. It won't be a grass roots thing like this, but it will be something through the media," Beesley said. "They will probably spend more money the first week than this grass-roots campaign will cost for the entire petition effort."