It was a year that began with the promise of big changes in the political face of the state. But when the numbers were counted Tuesday night, voters in races across Utah's counties were apparently satisfied with tradition - and the two-party system.
The Grand Old Party easily maintained control of most county commissions in Tuesday's election, but Democrats picked up Wayne and Grand counties while Republicans added Wasatch to their fold.The Republican Party now controls 20 of the state's 29 county commissions. In addition to the two counties the Democrats picked up, they maintained their control in Beaver, Carbon, Daggett, Emery, Juab, Morgan and Tooele counties.
Not one of the very few independent, write-in or third-party candidates who made it onto the general election ballot walked away with a prize.
The state's most famous Libertarian, polygamist Alex Joseph, ended up with a scant 6 percent of the vote in the race for a four-year Kane County Commission seat.
There were changes, though. Carbon County elected not one, but two women commissioners - a first in that county's history.
And with the help of the Utah Supreme Court, a lawyer in Daggett County foiled the intent of a law passed specifically to hinder his efforts to become a county attorney.
Wayne Searle, the only licensed attorney in Daggett County, has long sought the county attorney's job. County officials, however, have been contracting with a Uinta County lawyer to handle the duties of that office.
Searle pointed out that attorneys from outside the county could only be hired if no qualified lawyer resided in the county - and he is both licensed and a resident. The Legislature then passed a law that said candidates for county attorney in counties with fewer than 18,000 people, like Daggett, must face a plebiscite-type "for"-and-"against" vote, rather than simply run unopposed.
Searle challenged that law and Monday the Utah Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that Searle must be allowed to run as a write-in candidate instead of in a plebiscite format. He won.
An equally touchy issue - placement of hazardous waste incinerators - influenced the outcome of commission races in Grand and Mil-lard counties.
GRAND County voters ran out of office two Republican commissioners who had voted to zone the county for hazardous waste incinerators. At the same time, spurred on by a strong environmentalist lobbying campaign, voters rescinded that commission's zoning decision.
Commission Chairman Jimmie Walker, a Republican four-year commissioner who had served an additional two years of an unexpired term, maintained that voters would support the commission's earlier action 3-to-1. He was wrong.
At the Grand County Courthouse, Walker conceded his loss to Democrat Merv Lawton. He said the incinerator was the biggest factor in his defeat but he had no regrets, "because I've done what I had to do."
The victorious Lawton said he felt his stand against the incinerator was only part of the reason he won.
Democrat Ferne Mullen captured Republican incumbent John "Dutch" Zimmerman's two-year seat. She said she hoped it wasn't just the incinerator issue that propelled her into office.
MILLARD - A proposed waste incinerator near Lynndyl was a major topic in the Millard County commission races, too.
All four candidates for both commission seats opposed the Lynndyl site. But Republicans Jer'E Brinker-hoff, the new four-year commissioner, and C. Frank Baker, who took the two-year seat, said they would consider other locations in the county. The unsuccessful Democratic candidates were Nord O. Brockbank and Neil R. Dutson.
DAVIS COUNTY - Republicans took both county commission seats and the county clerk's office with comfortable margins reflecting the county's reputation as the most Republican county in the most Republican state.
In the three-way race for the county commission two-year seat, GOP candidate Dub Lawrence bested Democrat Golden Sill, 37,540 to 24,725. Layton Mayor Richard McKenzie, running a write-in campaign as an independent, polled 2,698.
For the four-year seat, incumbent Gayle Stevenson, appointed to the post in July when former commissioner Glen Saunders resigned to become county clerk, led Democratic challenger Howard Stoddard from the beginning, keeping a 60 to 65 percent to 35 to 40 percent split all through the tabulating.
Stevenson polled 42,660 to Stod-dard's 22,671.
The battle for the county clerk's post pitted two newcomers, with Republican Margene Isom and Democrat Ella Anderson both making their first foray into politics. Isom, who defeated Saunders in the GOP primary in September, went on to beat Anderson, 43,751 to 20,524.
UTAH COUNTY - The Republican Party extended its control of the County Commission as voters elected Provo lawyer Sid Sandberg to replace outgoing Commissioner Gary Anderson.
Sandberg soundly defeated Democratic challenger Glen Hawkins, a farmer from Benjamin. Sandberg received 51,093 votes (63 percent) to Hawkins' 29,958 votes (37 percent).
Sandberg will join commissioners Brent Morris, who eased unopposed Tuesday into his second commission term, and Malcolm Beck, who did not face re-election this year.
County Auditor J. Bruce Peacock and Treasurer Leonard Ellis - Republicans appointed last fall to fill unexpired terms - also ran unopposed.
County Clerk Bill Huish said approximately 83 percent of Utah County voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election. That percentage, one of the highest voter turnouts in the county's history, could drop a couple points once absentee ballots are tallied.
BOX ELDER COUNTY - Republican incumbents were re-elected to the county commission. Frank O. Nish-iguchi captured 65 percent of the vote to beat Democrat Darald Fuller for the four-year term, while Robert G. (Bob) Valentine narrowly defeated Democrat Boyd K. Gardner, 7,683 to 7,196.
GOP candidates swept the four four-year County Council races. In Districts 1 and 2, incumbents H. Randall Weston and Sarah Ann Skanchy ran unopposed. In the North District, incumbent Darrel Lee Gibbons fended off Max Christiansen, while Bette W. Kotter claimed the South District seat over Democrat Donald Jeppesen.
CARBON COUNTY - For the first time, Carbon County voters elected two women commissioners. Democrat Emma R. Kuykendall, who had defeated longtime Commissioner Guido Rachiele in the primary, held off a last-minute write-in campaign by Wellington Mayor Gary Rich to win a four-year term.
Lynda Critchlow Varner, also a Democrat, beat 4-1 write-in candidate J.R. "Bob" Olson, whom she had only narrowly defeated in the primary.
DUCHESNE COUNTY - Incumbent Republican County Attorney Herbert Wm. Gillespie ran unopposed for another term in a plebiscite-type election, where he gained 2,970 favorable votes and 762 negatives.
In county commission races, Republican Clinton S. Peatross received 1,903 votes to Democrat Guy L. Taylor's 1,186 and won the right to serve a four-year term.
Incumbent Republican Larry S. Ross ran unopposed for the two-year seat.
IRON COUNTY - Republican James C. "Jim" Robinson was elected to a fourth term as county commissioner. The director of information services at Southern Utah State College defeated Democrat Wesley E. Blake, 5,940 to 1,462. The four-year term went to Robert L. Gardner, a Republican, who beat Democrat Sonny G. Richardson, 5,936 to 1,534.
JUAB COUNTY - Incumbent Democrat James M. Garrett was unopposed for a two-year commission term. Richard M. Brough, a Republican incumbent, handily defeated Democratic challenger Max K. Williams, 1,507 to 969.
KANE COUNTY - A polygamist mayor and Libertarian hopeful was trounced by the Republican candidate for a four-year commission seat.
Jack Maxwell outdistanced Big Water Mayor Alex Joseph and Democrat Vern Blanchard to take the seat being vacated by Republican Jay Ramsay, who is retiring.
Joseph, who has nine wives, won about 10 percent of the vote when he ran for a two-year commission seat in 1986. This year, he only received 128 votes or 6.04 percent of the tally. Maxwell received 1,387 or 65.51 percent and Blanchard got 602 or 28.43 percent.
Joseph and his four City Council members constitute the only city government in the nation controlled by the Libertarians, who espouse free enterprise, limited government control and personal liberty.
Republican incumbent Vince Underwood cakewalked past Democrat Rocky Wright, 1,610 to 464, to claim the two-year commission seat.
SANPETE COUNTY - Mt. Pleasant Mayor Amoir Deuel lost a hard-fought race for the four-year County Commission seat to Republican incumbent two-year Commissioner Robert D. Bessey. Bessey, a former mayor of Manti, received 3,510 votes to Deuel's 3,007.
Leonard M. Blackham, Republican, with 4,355 votes, had no trouble defeating Democrat Ed Painter, 2,044, for the two-year commission seat.
In the sheriff's race, Chief Deputy Wallace S. Buchanan, a Republican, bested Fairview Police Chief James R. "Jim" Cheney, a Democrat, by garnering 55 percent of the vote.
SEVIER COUNTY - GOP incumbent Commissioner Jerry Nice, who stressed the importance of economic development and job creation, defeated Democrat Bill Laird, who had described himself as unemployed yet volunteered to serve without a salary. Nice retained the four-year seat with a comfortable 4-1 margin.
The battle for the two-year seat was closer, but Republican Jay F. Gardner was able to defeat Democrat Clair Rickenbach, 3,329 to 2,692.
SUMMIT COUNTY - Newcomer Republican Franklin D. Richards Jr. squeaked past former Democratic Commissioner Cliff Blonquist to claim the two-year commission seat in Summit County. Richards received 3,150 votes, while Blonquist got 2,949.
G. LaMar Pace, a Republican, who has served on the County Planning Commission for 16 years, lost his bid for the four-year commission seat to former educator Sheldon D. Richins, a Democrat, 2,559 to 3,423.
TOOELE COUNTY - Democratic incumbents Kelly Gubler and William E. Pitt ran unopposed for the four-year and two-year County Commission seats.
UINTAH COUNTY - A former Duchesne County commissioner, Republican Jim N. Reidhead, outdistanced Democrat Raymond Murray, economic developer for the Ute Indian Tribe, to win another term on the Uintah County Commission. He garnered 4,521 votes to Murray's 2,483 for the two-year position.
In the four-year race, H. Glen McKee, Republican, narrowly defeated Democrat Wayne Hall, 3,587 to 3,412.
WASATCH COUNTY - It was a good day for Republicans in Wasatch County Tuesday as the GOP claimed control of the formerly Democratic County Commission. In his first political race, Moroni Besendorfer wrested the two-year seat from incumbent Larry B. Duke, 53.5 percent to 46.4 percent.
In the four-year commission contest, Republican LaRen Provost even more handily defeated the other incumbent Democratic candidate, Lorin Allred.
WASHINGTON COUNTY - County voters elected two Republicans to the County Commission Tuesday. Gayle M. Aldred, a St. George general contractor, took the two-year seat, besting Democrat Edna Mae Sampson and independent candidate Ronald Wesley Nelson.
Scott Hirschi, a member of the St. George Water and Power Board, beat Democrat Ferdinand Neilson for the four-year term.
WEBER COUNTY - Weber County voters decided to stay with the county commissioners they had, choosing Republicans William "Bill" Bailey and Lowell S. Peterson over Kenneth E. Pace and Dee Wilcox.