The field of Republican candidates for outgoing County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi's seat is getting bigger.
Commission chief of staff David Marshall and West Valley Councilwoman Margaret Peterson announced earlier this year that they would run for the seat, and now two others have thrown their hats into the ring: former Salt Lake commissioner Steve Harmsen and Mount Olympus Community Council member Paul Walker.Harmsen ran for Salt Lake mayor two years ago but was defeated in the Republican primary.
The two newest candidates are running for different reasons. Harmsen is concentrating on his experience in public works (he was over public works as Salt Lake City Commissioner from 1972 to 1976) and says he can "hit the ground running."
Horiuchi oversees the county public works department, and the new commissioner would likely inherit that responsibility.
"The person who runs a $112 million public works operation ought to have some experience," Harmsen said. "I have proven myself in the private sector (he is president and owner of the $16 million Steve Regan Co., a farm, ranch and nursery wholesaler). I haven't fed off the government trough all my life. I think I can offer independence that the county currently does not have."
Harmsen is not afraid to get detailed. He wants to coordinate traffic lights ("this is not rocket science") and get rid of the windmills in front of the Salt Palace.
Walker is a former federal inspector general, with responsibility for investigating fraud and waste in seven Western states, including Utah. He has been president of the United Association of Community Councils, which he calls the largest grass-roots community organization in the state, manages a small investment fund, and teaches political science part-time.
He is running primarily to stem the recent tide of infighting among county elected officials.
"My motivation for running is the mismanagement and numerous allegations of wrongdoing that surround our county government," he said. ". . . I feel it's time for a different perspective. We need to bring in some new blood, particularly leaders from the different communities, to open up county government and give the people a greater voice. It is definitely time for a change."
Walker decried the practice of sitting commissioners "putting up" candidates for the open seat - Horiuchi has endorsed deputy county public works director Mike Reberg for the position, while Commissioner Brent Overson has endorsed Marshall. Commissioner Mary Callaghan is running for re-election.
Here are Harmsen's and Walker's views on some of the more salient issues facing the county:
- County reorganization: Harm-sen doesn't like the idea of separating the legislative and executive powers of the commission such that there is only one executive. He says that position would be too powerful. Nevertheless, he supports the ongoing efforts of the Citizen Committee charged with recommending a change of form and says its recommendations should go to the voters. Walker says the recommendation should go to voters and says the two branches should be co-equal, with adequate checks and balances.
- Growth and planning: Harm-sen says zoning is inadequate to ensure enough open space and that the county should buy up land on its own account to create parks and other open spaces. Walker advocates a countywide planning commission, including cities, to coordinate planning and exchange information.
- Other: Harmsen pledges not to raise taxes and says juvenile crime is one of his top priorities. Walker wants to examine all county functions to determine if private contractors could perform them more cheaply and efficiently and supports neighborhood policing (he organized and leads a neighborhood mobile patrol in his area).