Less than two years after he stepped down to wage an unsuccessful campaign for Congress, M. Tom Shimizu has announced he wants to regain his seat as a Salt Lake County commissioner.
Shimizu, 54, made the official announcement Monday in front of more than 100 supporters assembled in the Commission Chambers of the $54 million Salt Lake County Government Center he helped plan.Standing against the backdrop of a giant poster announcing "Return of the Shimizu" designed as a parody of the hit movie "Return of the Jedi," Shimizu said he wants to emphasize his past accomplishments while pointing out what he could do if elected.
But to regain the seat he held from 1981 to 1986, Shimizu must defeat incumbent Democrat Dave Watson, a strong critic of the way Shimizu performed during his previous 2 1/2 terms. No other Republican has announced plans to run for the two-year post.
A loser in the race for the state's 2nd Congressional District in 1986, Shimizu said his commission campaign would concentrate on the need for economic development, improvements in the transportation system and greater efficiency in government.
"The Salt Lake Valley is a wonderful place to live," he said. "We must have a vision. We must be able to see forward."
During his five years as a commissioner, Shimizu said, he helped form the county's volunteer program that now uses up to 10,000 volunteers and saves taxpayers $6 million, expanded the parks and library systems, and turned other government functions over to private business.
Shimizu, an engineer, said he has visited Japan and other countries in an effort to attract business to Utah.
"Economic development is at a crucial stage," he said. "To plan for the future economic security of our area and to provide job opportunities for our citizens, the time has come for us as elected
officials to stop talking about economic development and to do something about it."
Shimizu said he would urge creative solutions to the county's immediate transportation problems while saving money to solve expensive long-range problems.
"Maybe we can construct extra lanes on the freeways. Maybe we can encourage car pooling and encourage people to ride mass transportation," he said.
Shimizu began serving on the commission when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner William E. Dunn. Shimizu then ran successfully for the office in 1982 and 1984.
He and his wife, Junko, live in the Butler area with their four sons.