"Interesting" is the word that pops up most frequently when participants and observers are asked about the three-way race for the two-year seat on the Davis County Commission.
Interesting, indeed.The candidates are Golden Sill, Democrat and former Layton mayor; William "Dub" Lawrence, Centerville, the Democrat-turned-Republican who was county sheriff but lost his job in 1978 to a last-minute write-in opponent and two years ago launched an unsuccessful write-in campaign of his own for sheriff; and Layton Mayor Richard McKenzie, an independent who defeated Sill two years ago for the mayor's job and who announced his write-in campaign Oct. 5.
Sill, a lifetime resident of Layton, served four terms on the Layton City Council and as mayor for three years until defeated by McKenzie three years ago. He spent 32 years in the Davis school system as a teacher and administrator in addition to 28 years of active and reserve U.S. Army duty.
Sill said he is running for the commission at the urging of fellow Democrats and because he sees some problems with the way county government is being handled.
"I believe in efficient government, of living within the bounds of your revenue. I'm against higher taxes without public approval," Sill said. "We need to look into areas where some cuts can be made, to eliminate waste and duplication.
"I'm familiar with the budget process _ I was involved in it for years in city government _ and I know how cuts can be made to make a department operate more efficiently but without crippling it," said Sill.
The Democrat, who while he was Layton mayor strongly opposed construction of the county's garbage-burning plant, agrees it's too late for further opposition on that issue but said the plant should be watched carefully to ensure that it doesn't turn into a financial fiasco for the county's taxpayers.
Sill also believes the $44,000 annual salary for county commissioners is too high and should be cut drastically, perhaps to $10,000 a year. "County employees are doing the work, and they don't make near that," he said. He also urges closer scrutiny of travel and convention expenses for county employees.
Sill opposes all three tax-limitation initiatives on Utah ballots Tuesday but supports holding the line on taxes.
Lawrence, a Centerville resident, was sheriff from 1974 to 1978, losing the 1978 election to Republican Brant Johnson, who mounted a write-in campaign two weeks before the election when the GOP candidate died.
In 1974 Lawrence defeated incumbent Republican Sheriff William L. Peters _ now a county commissioner who has endorsed Lawrence's opponent, McKenzie.
The Republican commissioner Lawrence defeated in the September primary, Harold Tippetts, also has endorsed McKenzie as being better qualified for the job.
None of that fazes Lawrence, who said he's been working toward the commission seat for the past two years. As for his conversion to the GOP party, Lawrence said it's simple: It's the only way he can win in Davis County.
And he points to another GOP incumbent who also used to be a Democrat: Ronald Reagan. Lawrence also said he's played it by the rules, challenging the GOP incumbent first in the party caucuses and then in the primary election, which he won, so the voters have decided.
Lawrence has raised several issues in the election, ranging from the pay scale of commissioners to the $18 million in bond money being spent to build a new jail and court complex.
"I feel it's been an issues-oriented campaign, with me reacting to things the commission has done. They've created the opportunity; I've just been reacting to them," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said he wants more openness in county government, with issues discussed above board in commission meetings instead of beforehand.
Lawrence opposes the initiatives that would limit local property taxes and roll back 1987 tax increases, but he said he can live with Initiative C, the tax credit for private education tuition.
McKenzie said he entered the race knowing a write-in campaign would be difficult because he doesn't feel the other two candidates are qualified to be commissioner.
"I didn't care for the choices. I feel the county deserves better," said McKenzie, who has been Layton mayor for three years. "I also feel the county has been getting a little bit careless in its relations with the public and the citygovernments. I think the county is getting indifferent to public opinion."
He is retired from 35 years of federal employment at Hill Air Force Base.
As a federal employee he was barred from political activity, a party label wasn't needed for the Layton mayor's race, and McKenzie said he has no formal political affiliation.
McKenzie said the county is faced with providing services to a rapidly growing population and as more land is incorporated into cities the types of services offered will change.
The county needs to re-examine its fiscal and management policies, McKenzie said, and become "a lean and mean team, ready to do its job. We have to be responsible to the taxpayers, first of all."
McKenzie said he is "unalterably opposed" to the tax initiatives, and he fears that if they pass the brunt of the funding cuts will be passed down to local governmental entities.
"I don't think the Legislature, if the initiatives pass, will make the deep cuts they're talking about in education. I think they'll find a way to maintain that funding level, by shifting revenue, but the ones that will suffer even more are the cities and towns," McKenzie said.