Davis County Republican Commissioner Gayle Stevenson defended the record of the administration he recently joined, while two Democratic challengers Wednesday afternoon took pot shots at commission pay raises and "bickering."

Speaking to the Bountiful Area Chamber of Commerce, incumbent Stevenson kept his remarks focused away from recent conflicts in county administration, including a feud between the commission and County Auditor Ruth Kennington.However, during a question-and-answer period he said the commission never told Kennington to resign, and they had only talked about eliminating her position in the context of an expected cut of 30 county employees in next year's budget.

Regarding a suit alleging malfeasance in office by two fellow commissioners and one he replaced, he said, "The men have been vilified in the press and it is unjustified. The charges are absolutely groundless," Stevenson said.

Stevenson, who is running against Democrat Howard Stoddard for the four-year commission seat, praised the record of the Republican administration in the face of a dramatic growth in the county.

"There is good government in Davis County. You need to know that," said Stevenson, who was appointed to the commission in July.

While not blaming his opponent, Stoddard criticized the county commissioners for giving themselves pay increases, building a garbage-burning plant, and misusing money and equipment. Stoddard said that while the county budget has increased by only 15 percent over the past four years, the commissioners have had a 64 percent increase in wages.

"I would be against a salary increase for the first two years I am elected," Stoddard said.

During a somewhat unusual emotional plea he said it is time for a change in county government.

"All of these men in the commission are good friends. But sometimes the best friends fall by the wayside. We need to give them a helping hand to right this and put Davis County on an even keel," Stoddard said.

William "Dub" Lawrence, Republican candidate for the two-year commission seat, was kinder to the present commission, but noted decisions he felt were shortsighted.

He said that by waiting to implement the county's 911 emergency phone system until this year and building a second jail within a decade showed poor judgment. He similarly characterized decisions to relocate the fairgrounds and build a burn plant.

"We need to think for the future, not for the term of office," Lawrence said.

Stoddard, Lawrence, along with Lawrence's Democratic challenger Golden Sill, said that the county auditor, whose role has been limited by the present commission, ought to have the right to examine records of more county offices.

Sill chided the present commission for its record in economic development.

"I'm sure they haven't been sleeping on the job, but no industry has been coming in," Sill said.

He proposed giving free taxation to big industry and cited his record as Layton mayor to encourage economic development.

Calling himself a "friend of the taxpayer," Sill said he wants to eliminate duplication of services. He said he would like to study the Davis County Sheriff's Department for such duplication.

He also said that county employees need to receive more recognition to help curb morale problems.