Republican domination of Davis County's government will continue as GOP candidates swept the two County Commission and county clerk's positions in what election officials are describing as a record turnout of voters.
In the three-way race for the two-year commission seat, the last-minute write-in bid of Layton Mayor Richard McKenzie tallied 2,698 and was swamped by the regular party vote.Republican William "Dub" Lawrence, a former Democrat, defeated Democratic challenger Golden Sill, 37,540 to 24,725. All vote totals are unofficial, from the county clerk, pending a canvass by the county commissioners.
Lawrence, as a Democrat, was sheriff of Davis County for four years before converting to the Republican Party and faced opposition not only from his two opponents in the race but from one of his fellow Republicans, William Peters, with whom he will serve on the commission.
Lawrence defeated Peters in 1974 for the sheriff's position. And, to complicate the race further, it was McKenzie three years ago who defeated incumbent Sill in their race for Layton mayor.
Gayle Stevenson, appointed as interim county commissioner in July, soundly defeated his Democratic opponent, Howard Stoddard, 42,660 to 22,671. It was Stevenson's first venture into elective politics and the third, and apparently final, try at a county post for Stoddard.V
Two political newcomers, Republican Margene Isom and Democrat Ella Andersons, were in the race for county clerk, with Isom winning handily, 43,751 to 20,524.
Lawrence was clearly the most controversial figure in the race, facing opposition not only from his Democratic opponent but from his own party members _ someof whom actively campaigned against him _ and from an independent challenger.
"It was a chess game, a real chess game for us," Lawrence said of the campaign strategy he began studying last spring, aiming first at the party's county convention, then toward the September primary and finally into this week's general election.
"It went pretty much as we planned, except for McKenzie's entry into the race, but I think we countered that fairly well by campaigning strongly up where we thought his strength would be," said Lawrence.
Sill said the campaign between Lawrence and him was clean but McKenzie's entry "muddied up the waters some, by some of the things he said about the candidates."
Sill said the 60-40 party vote split is about what he expected out of the race and he's not disappointed in his final standing. But, "this is my last time out," the former Layton city councilman and mayor said. "It's time for me to get out of politics, do some traveling and see some of the country."
In the Stevenson-Stoddard race, Stoddard also said Tuesday's defeat is his last try at county politics. Stoddard, who still holds a seat on the West Point City Council, previously lost bids for the county clerk and two-year commission seat.
"It wasn't too bad of a race," Stoddard said. "I just fell victim to too many Republicans in the county. It was a good campaign. I appreciate Gayle Stevenson's fine, clean campaign. I'll just sit back now and give him my support."
"It's nice to have a vote behind you rather than an appointment," Stevenson said of his win. His first priority, Stevenson said, is to rebuild employee morale and re-establish a good working atmosphere among county workers, disturbed over the past months by a political fight between the commissioners and the county auditor.
"With the election over, I feel we can get on with the county's business," Stevenson said.
Although relieved the three tax initiatives failed to pass, Stevenson said elected officials cannot afford to ignore the strong feelings and motivation behind the initiatives and keeping spending and taxes low will be a top priority.