In order to protect the integrity of our political process however, it’s crucial to put their actions into context.
In an attempt to control the process, five Republicans from Grand County (Lynn Jackson, Jeramy Day, Jerry McNeely, Gene Ciarus and Manuel Torres) sponsored a petition to change our county’s form of government, moments after House Bill 224 was signed into law. The petition sponsors purport that they alone, a non-elected group with their own political agenda, should initiate the process rather than the democratically elected Grand County Council.
The council is now forced to ask Utah’s Attorney General to arbitrate the matter. If allowed to initiate the process, the sponsors will have sole authority to choose the seven members of the study committee. This committee will recommend the new form of government that will ultimately be submitted to voters. If they put forth an unpopular recommendation, voters will face a no-win situation. If a new form of government is not approved by Dec. 31, 2020, the county defaults to a three-member (at large) county commission form of government, a form that has no support from voters.
There are still many questions about the passage of this bill that citizens deserve to have answered. Why didn’t state legislators ask the council to weigh in on such a critical matter? Why did Council Member Curtis Wells lobby state legislators to pass a bill that would make the county’s current form of government obsolete, and find it acceptable not to inform other council members or include an opinion from the full council on the matter? Were the five petition sponsors and one council member simply paying closer attention, as they assert, or were they given privileged information?
A genuine democracy requires a level playing field. Grand County citizens should view these moves for what they are — a small partisan group attempting to undermine democratic values by claiming that they got to the finish line first while no one else was looking. They claim victory in a race that only they knew was at hand.
Voters will remember the underhanded manner in which H.B. 224 was enacted and vote to elect leaders with integrity and accountability.
—Mary Beth Fitzburgh