First, our current status is legal. After May 1, 2000, every new form of government adopted must comply with one of four forms. However, this statute is not retroactive, and it does not invalidate existing forms of government created prior to May 1, 2000. See Utah Code §§ 17-52-102, 402.
Second, Utah has not prohibited local term limits. Mr. McElhaney cites to federal case law which prohibits federal term limits (other than the U.S. Presidency). Such federal law has no bearing on our local elections, and I am surprised that the local Republican Party desires the federal government to interfere in Grand County politics. Our local term limits are legal and provide the best opportunity for representative democracy.
Third, our current plan and state law set forth a process for filling mid-term vacancies for councilpersons and elected officials. Our current plan sets forth the process for filling mid-term council vacancies. See Utah Code § 17-52-401. State law provides a clear process for filling mid-term vacancies of unaffiliated elected officials, as each of ours are, permanently. Utah Code § 20A-1-508. The process for filling interim vacancies (until the next election) of unaffiliated elected officials is more ambiguous. However, this ambiguity will persist whether a new form of government is adopted or not.
Grand County largely identifies as unaffiliated and will continue to elect unaffiliated candidates for every office, leaving this “concern” unresolved by Initiative 1. But, do not fear: deputies, as chosen by the elected official, are under a duty to perform the duties of the office for and in the absence of an elected official. Utah Code §§ 17-16-7, 8. In the unlikely event that we must temporarily fill an elected position, we can rely on the expertise and experience of our deputies to meet our needs. And, note that we have not needed to fill a mid-term vacancy of an elected official since Grand County residents voted overwhelmingly to adopt our current plan in 1992.
Our current form of government is legal and best represents the citizens of Grand County. Please vote “No” on Initiative 1.
—Christina Sloan, Esq.