Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Peter Corroon delivers his State of the County address. He focuses on cleaning up scandals and improving morale of employees.

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon unofficially started his re-election campaign Tuesday by highlighting his cleanup job of the county's scandal-ridden past.

"When I came into this office, there was a great need to restore Salt Lake County's morale and reputation," Corroon said at Tuesday's annual State of the County speech. "Today, I'm proud to say that we've done what we said we'd do."

Corroon was elected in 2004, when Salt Lake County leaders, including his predecessor, faced intense scrutiny and criminal charges.

Since then, the county has been controversy-free, Councilman David Wilde said. But Corroon can't take too much credit for cleaning things up — Wilde believes Salt Lake County wasn't that dirty to begin with.

"I don't want people to feel like Salt Lake County government was in shambles when Peter Corroon came into office," Wilde said. "I think it was in very good shape, despite a couple of controversies with Mayor (Nancy) Workman."

Even still, Corroon touted his platform of a "transparent, not opaque" government run by "planning, not politics" during his State of the County speech Tuesday.

After the speech, Corroon posed for pictures as a paid photographer snapped shots of the mayor in action with fellow Democrats for some election literature.

Now, if he only had an opponent.

No Republican has stepped to the plate as of yet, but that isn't stopping Corroon from gearing up for the November election.

Corroon's State of the County speech included no real new ideas. Many of his platforms mirror those he included in his 2007 speech: quality, open government, economic development, protecting the environment, quality of life and public safety.

Councilman Joe Hatch attributed that to good, long-term planning.

"He set the right agenda a year ago," Hatch said. "These are goals that will exist over the long haul. It's not like a checklist — build a theater. This is a philosophical statement."

The mayor did add one new priority this year: education.

The county does not manage a school district or university, but "we do play a vital role in education."

"The opportunities we carve out for children buttress our entire economy," he said.

The county will continue to run after-school programs in Kearns and West Valley City. Corroon didn't announce any plans for expansion of the program.

Corroon will continue pushing his environmental agenda in 2008. The year will see an expansion in curbside recycling, a push to place solar panels in homes, businesses and government buildings, and a continued effort to plant one million trees in the next 10 years.

"Protecting our environment is practical, good stewardship, life-sustaining and life-enhancing," Corroon said. "It is the most important investment we can make."

Work on a criminal justice master plan will start in the coming months, a move Corroon dubbed a "more comprehensive approach" to figure out how to both keep people from committing crime, as well as keep them from returning to jail once they've been released.

Corroon, a former business owner, said the county will also work to help local businesses expand in 2008.

The mayor also touted county leaders' collaboration to "hold the line on property taxes" in a year where property taxes are climbing across the state.

"As the demands of our time and efforts are ever increasing, the windows of opportunity are shrinking by virtue of the sheer enormity of how much money it takes to provide government services," Corroon said. "Our needs continue to grow, while our revenues are fairly fixed.

"Planning with the future in mind is not an option, it is a reality. It is what good government is all about."

Councilman Randy Horiuchi praised the mayor after the speech, calling it "vintage Corroon."

"He really represents the best of what we as a county have tried to portray," Horiuchi said. "He's a very steady hand at the oar. County residents are truly getting their money's worth."

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