The Salt Lake County Democratic Party's executive committee forced the county party's chairman out of his job Thursday.
Christian Burridge resigned a day after the executive committee asked him to leave his post. The committee forced Burridge out at an odd time, considering the county Democratic convention is a little more than a week away.
But the change "needed to be made now before we get into the heart of the election," said Ellen Birrell, a member of the executive committee.
The executive committee felt Burridge was too busy to handle the demands of a busy election season, Birrell said. In January, Burridge took a new job at another law firm and is handling both his old and new cases, in addition to raising three young children.
"The citizens of this state want leadership that is principled, that operates with integrity, and we have to model it at the Salt Lake County executive level. That takes running on all pistons," Birrell said. "Based on Christian's personal demands, it's not happening at the level we must have."
Burridge said the executive committee "ambushed" him Wednesday night, with complaints he was too hard to contact and was deferring important decisions to his assistant
"Sometimes I'm hard to get a hold of, but I always return calls," Burridge said. "I didn't think that was a reason for me to step down."
Burridge said the committee tried to force him to do things "that I don't think are part of my job description. The fight is over whether Christian can do his job or not in the way he deems fit."
If the board wasn't going to let him do his job his way, Burridge said, "I'm not going to work for them, especially if I'm doing it for free."
Burridge said if the committee had a problem with him, they should have at least waited until after the party's April 26 convention.
"There is a lack of foresight," Burridge said. "It was impulsive, it was emotional. It was a total lack of professionalism."
Some party delegates were upset with Burridge after he had to reschedule the county's convention. The meeting originally was scheduled for April 12 but was bumped back to April 26 because Jordan High School already was booked.
In the end, the party didn't want to share space and have to keep quiet while high school students took their ACT tests.
Former county Democratic Party Chairman Joe Hatch feels for Burridge. Being the chairman is a rough job, he said."If you do the job right, you piss people off," said Hatch, who serves on the Salt Lake County Council. "You cannot do that job without making people upset. The best chairs are those that start in and when they leave office are leaving office where people pretty much are not pissed off at them and say, 'You know what? That was pretty good."'