Salt Lake County Commission candidate Mark Shurtleff has left his position as deputy county attorney, in part to distance himself from his boss, County Attorney Doug Short.

Shurtleff took a permanent leave of absence from his duties Thursday, tantamount to a resignation. He originally intended to resign (and still contemplates the possibility), but Short prevailed upon him to take a leave instead, contending that upon resignation the position could be taken over by county commissioners and filled by them, not him.A leave will allow Short to hire a temporary employee.

Shurtleff said his primary motivation for getting out was to get more time to campaign. However, he acknowledged that he wanted to distance himself from Short, who is locked in legal warfare with the commission and has been subjected to considerable criticism from many quarters.

Shurtleff's relationship with Short proved to be a significant liability for him during the Republican primary campaign, providing an easy target for opponents.

"I don't want to be involved in any of that stuff going on right now, with all the problems and the feelings going on toward Doug and all that nonsense," Shurtleff said.

"People didn't like Doug, and they automatically didn't like me. I never really had a chance with those people, (even though) here I was, coming in, just trying to do my job."

Shurtleff said he will try to get part-time work to pay the bills during the balance of the campaign.