Dave Watson believes voters are pleased with the way he strongly criticized Salt Lake County government during his first two years as a commissioner.
Since taking office, he has publicly despised the new $56 million county government center and has taken credit for bringing to light scandals in various county agencies.As he prepared to announce his plans to run for re-election, Watson, a Democrat, said he intends to be just as vocal during
the next two years.
"Good government and leadership mean not hiding problems from the public, but openly working to solve problems and ensuring they don't happen again," he said.
Watson scheduled a noon press conference Wednesday to announce his candidacy. He chose a fire station at Harmony Park for the announcement, in contrast to his opponent, Republican M. Tom Shimizu, who chose the commission chambers of the new county government center for his announcement last month.
Watson believes the locations are symbolic. Shimizu, who left the commission in 1986 to run unsuccessfully for Congress against Democrat Wayne Owens, helped plan the government center that has been the focus of much of Watson's criticism.
In a copy of the speech he planned to deliver Wednesday, Watson said a fire station is for the people, while the $56 million government center "Taj Mahal" is a misuse of tax money.
"He (Shimizu) made his announcement . . . next to the $900 chairs and the $200,000 of art work in a palace for elected officials all paid for with your tax dollars," he said. "What my opponent's announcement really did was to clearly frame the choice for the voters."
Much of Watson's speech is critical of Shimizu and the things he did as a commissioner, setting the tone for a race some think will provide plenty of personal attacks.
Watson said Shimizu is responsible for Hercules Inc. almost moving out of Utah. Officials at the aerospace plant threatened to leave because the county had allowed too much residential construction in the area construction that could be destroyed by an accidental explosion at the plant. Watson also accused Shimizu of leaving the county's firefighting budget in shambles.
Watson said he helped solve both problems with creative leadership. Hercules agreed to stay after the county signed an agreement calling for West Valley City to annex the plant and buy land surrounding it. The fire department reorganized into a system that cuts costs and increases service, he said.
"Elections are the choices we make in our great American democracy, but rarely are the choices as clear as in this race," Watson said.
Watson criticized Shimizu's slogans, calling them "cutesy campaign gimmicks."
"I challenge my opponent to take this election as seriously as the people want government to be performed," Watson said. "I challenge my opponent to run this race on issues, not gimmicks, on debates, not cutesy billboards, on the facts and not on fairy tales."