Salt Lake County Democrats have chosen a former county commissioner, a current and a former commis
sion candidate, two county officials and a local party officer as nominees to replace Dave Watson in the commission's two-year seat.The new commissioner could be appointed as early as Monday.
During a central committee caucus Saturday, the county Democratic Party named Nick Floros, Dale Gardiner, Brenda Hancock, John Hiskey, Pete Katulas and Ella Westley as nominees for appointment to Watson's seat.
County commissioners Bart Baker and Mike Stewart, both Republicans, will appoint a new commissioner from the Democrats' list of nominees to fill the remainder of Watson's term, which expires in January.
The item has been placed on the agenda for the commissioners' regular Monday meeting, allowing the replacement to be named then - if Barker and Stewart have been officially notified of the nominees and had an opportunity to agree on the appointment.
Both the commissioners and Democratic Party leaders have said they want Watson's replacement appointed as quickly as possible.
Hiskey, the county Public Works director Watson appointed 20 months ago, is considered the leading candidate for the job. Watson, in his letter of resignation, recommended Hiskey as his replacement.
Barker and Stewart have commented that the ease of Hiskey's transition to the commissioner's job and his knowledge of the Public Works Department make him a leading contender for appointment to the vacant seat.
Hiskey ran unsuccessfully against Stewart for a commission seat in 1980.
Floros is the chief deputy to county surveyor Carl Larsen and the co-chairman of the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign in Utah.
Gardiner, the mayor of Riverton, is running for election to the two-year commission seat against Republican former commissioner Tom Shimizu.
Hancock, in charge of personnel training for Salt Lake County, narrowly lost to Gardiner in a convention bid to be the Democratic Party's nominee for the two-year commission seat in the November election.
Katulas is a former county commissioner who is now in charge of security for the Salt Lake County Government Center.
Westley, a former candidate for the Legislature, is the secretary of the county Democratic Party.
Watson announced his resignation last week, saying he wanted to put the painful memories of his May arrest on drunken driving and cocaine possension charges behind him and get on with his life.
Resisting heavy pressure to resign immediately following his arrest, Watson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunken driving, attempted drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia charges.
He was sentenced to a total of $1,400 in fines, 120 days in jail - all of which was suspended - and five days community service.
After the arrest he dropped his bid for re-election. Under Utah law, a physician's excuse that the campaign would be too stressful for Watson allowed Democrats to replace Watson as a candidate with Gardiner, despite Gardiner's failure to file for the commission race before the filing deadline.