Utah County Commissioner Brent Morris will glide next week unopposed into hissecond term, but he doesn't plan to rest on his laurels over the next four years.
County Auditor J. Bruce Peacock and Treasurer Leonard Ellis - appointed last year to fill unexpired terms - join Morris in running unopposed this fall. All three are Republicans.Brent Morris, seeking a four-year term on the commission, said he hopes people perceive him as a politician who is not influenced by special-interest groups. He said he based his decisions during his first term on the county's interest as a whole and will continue that practice during the next four years as he works on several projects he considers vital to the county.
First, Morris wants to see policies and procedures developed for all county departments and a general policies and procedures manual written for all county employees.
"It's just a good administrative practice to have it," Morris said of the manual, which he has worked on for more than a year. "I think the public expects that of us as administrators."
Had the county established and followed policies and procedures in the past, he said, taxpayers likely would have saved more than $200,000 paid out in lawsuits the past year because of improper employee terminations.
In addition, Morris said he will move ahead on turning the recently organized Utah County Water Advisory Committee into an active political entity.
"We've got to evolve this committee into a greater political force in order for us to have any influence on water as it pertains to Utah County," he said.
Morris said he will push for legislation that will permit cities to convert existing agricultural water rights to municipal water rights. Water is necessary for continued economic development, and "economic development is the key to our success as a community."
Also during his second term, Morris says, he'll work to resolve safety concerns at the Thistle landslide site, continue to promote a countywide emergency preparedness program and address environmental concerns. Elected leaders throughout the county must work together to address landfill problems, the future of Utah Lake and air pollution, he said.
"We can have clean air with everybody pulling together rather than blaming and fighting each other," he said.
J. Bruce Peacock said the county will have more internal audits in the futureas he endeavors to promote cost-effectiveness and efficiency throughout county departments.
Peacock called the auditor's job cut and dried, but said he appreciates the opportunity to serve. "I think it's a great job, and I'm impressed with county employees and their desire to serve the people of Utah County."
Though he feels the proposed tax initiatives will fail at the ballot box next week, Peacock, a certified public accountant from Orem, said government needs to be responsive to voters who support the initiatives. Budgets must be scrutinized and cut to levels acceptable to taxpayers.
Leonard Ellis said the good thing about running unopposed is that he's been able to concentrate on his job, not the election. Ellis said he, too, is happy serving the public and working with county employees.
"Contrary to what everyone might believe, they're dedicated people doing the best job they can," he said.
Ellis feels good about his performance so far. Utilizing his investment and banking experience, he developed an investment program that earned the county, cities and school districts $940,000 in interest. He said combining and realigningemployee duties has brought the county another $50,000 in payroll savings.
As a certified public accountant who operated an accounting firm in Spanish Fork, Ellis said he understands the need to control costs, has looked for ways to save the county money since taking office and will continue to do so.