In your editorial dated July 20, you derided those of us who oppose changing the current form of government to a mayor/council form as nay-sayers and stated, "For some reason, these people feel the county is different from most other democratic governments and that it is OK to concentrate all the power in the hands of three people." County government is different from other levels of government. County government is essentially a service district of the state. Much of what it does is dictated by the state Legislature and federal mandates.
"All the power" is not concentrated in the hands of three people as you stated. It has nine other independently elected officials that other governmental entities do not have who have say over various departments of government: the offices of treasurer, auditor, assessor, clerk, recorder, surveyor, county attorney, district attorney and sheriff. To suggest, as you did, that "most of them know better than to challenge the folks who control their lifelines" is an insult to the integrity of each of these elected officials.Because they are elected by all of the people and are subject to answering to them, these elected officials run their offices in the best interest of our county without having to answer to any elected official who might try to influence them improperly. They also serve as watchdogs over the commission, as does the media and the public.
It is incumbent upon those advocating change to prove that a change is necessary. None of the people who testified at this committee's task force hearings, nor the hearings conducted by the 1987 task force, cited any problems that were directly related to our current form of government nor that would be resolved by changing to a mayor/council form of government.
A mayor/council form of government would still be different from the state and federal forms of government. There would not be three independent but coequal branches of government. It would not have a judicial branch. The district attorney's office (which will incorporate the county attorney's office beginning next year as it used to do) is not equal to the U.S. Supreme Court nor the Utah Supreme Court. Furthermore, at both the federal and state levels of government, voters elect the second in command, i.e., the vice president and the lieutenant governor. Both of these governments are also established by constitutions, which the county government is not.
No one has tried to minimize the importance of administering a budget of more than a half-billion dollars. However, under the state and federal forms of government, lawmakers frequently make laws that others have to implement while they, themselves, are immune to the consequences. Having the commissioners implement the rules they create makes them much more responsible to the public than are these other elected officials. Your statement that a part-time council, elected by districts, would look out financially for the entire county while full-time commissioners elected by all of the people only look out for their particular departments is fallacious. Part-time council members are elected to look out for their own segment of the county, and that is where their primary allegiance falls. Full-time commissioners are elected by all of the people, and their allegiance falls to the entire county.
I urge voters to vote against a change in form of government for Salt Lake County.