A Salt Lake County employee running for state senator now agrees with the Salt Lake County attorney's office that he must either quit his job or quit the race because of federal laws.
So Robert E. Gallegos said Friday he will quit the race for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 2 if his opponent - incumbent Senate Minority Leader Rex Black, D-Salt Lake - will agree to fight more for the concerns of Hispanics and other west-side minorities that support Gallegos.If Black won't, Gallegos said, "I'll just quit my job" and stay in the race.
Gallegos monitors federal community development programs for the County Job Training Development Division. His job is funded largely by federal money. The federal Hatch Act prohibits such employees from holding elected office.
When the county attorney's office told him that last week, Gallegos sought a private opinion from an attorney for the Utah Public Employees Association. Gallegos also complained that several other employees of agencies receiving federal funds, such as schoolteachers, are now serving in the Legislature.
However, Gallegos said his lawyer agreed with the county that he is subject to the Hatch Act - which disqualifies him, no matter what others such as schoolteachers are doing.
"What I want to do now is set up a meeting with Sen. Black and (tate Democratic Party Chairman) Randy Horiuchi. I want to talk about the issues we are concerned about and the needs of the Hispanics and the west side," Gallegos said.
Gallegos said Hispanics are upset about such things as the state not having any Hispanic judges, even though Hispanics make up 7 percent of the population. He said he will also discuss concerns of blacks and Asians in his district and wants leaders of those groups to meet with him, Black and Horiuchi.
"We want them to know we want a voice up there. We expect him (Black) to retire in four years regardless. It's time for a change, and people expect it."
Gallegos said if Black will agree to his conditions, he will drop out of the race.
If Black won't agree, Gallegos said, "I'll just quit my job. I'll resign and go out and get another job doing something. But I think we can resolve some of these issues."
Gallegos earned the right to face Black in a primary by surviving the county convention last month. Black received 49 delegate votes, Gallegos 15 and George H. Searle 12.