Before we jump too far into the New Year, let’s review last year for a moment.
Let’s begin with the elections from last year. 2018 was the first year Tooele County has voted entirely by mail. While I was hopeful, I had no idea what would happen. The last time these offices were up in a Primary Election (2014), our turnout was 12.5 percent. In 2018 it was 52 percent.
The General Election, which had the same offices and several very important constitutional amendments and propositions, also generated improved numbers. Again, in 2014, the turnout for the General Election was 45.82 percent and in 2018 it was 72 percent. What an improvement.
Of the 22,000-plus votes cast, over 20,000 were cast on ballots that were mailed to voters. By sending each registered voter a ballot to the address we had on file, we were able to clean up our files to your most current address. It’s amazing how often citizens move! Thank you for your support. We have listened to your suggestions and hope to improve our procedures going forward.
There is much reflection to be had with separating the County Clerk and County Auditor’s offices. In 2014 I was elected as the Clerk/Auditor, where for the eight years before I had been the Clerk. As with most changes, I had no idea how big the job was until I had it. For us to be able to do the work of two completely different offices, with the addition of only one employee, was magnificent. Of course, when you have the right people working with you it helps! I cannot give enough kudos to my staff for the double workload they have handled for the past four years. Out of necessity, we streamlined the procedures and made great improvements.
It has been such a pleasure working with those who qualified for help with their property taxes through the abatements. The Veterans cannot be thanked enough for their service. What an honor it has been to serve you. I’m certain the new Auditor will be sending out a postcard to begin the process for the 2019 abatement year. Usually those are not sent out until after the Legislature sets the amount, but please look for the postcard in the mail around April 1. My office wishes the new County Auditor Alison McCoy great success.
Another first: We had seven referendums filed during the last quarter of 2018. These referendums were to put zoning changes the commissioners had approved on the 2020 General Election ballot. Each referendum needed 2,749 signatures of registered voters within Tooele County. That’s a total of 19,243 signatures! I wish there was a machine that could check the signatures, but as with each ballot that comes into our office, those signatures are being checked by hand. That is a lot of signatures.
The signatures are compared to up to five documents we have in the voter registration files for each registered voter, documents like voter registration, driver license, changing party affiliation, absentee ballot application, etc. It’s amazing how many different ways a person can sign their name. Usually by comparing with all five signatures, one of them will match the one on the petition. We have three petition series completed and we’re working on the other four.
Now onto 2019. The previous County Commission changed the dates the board terms ended to be at the end of the year. Therefore, there are several board positions that are open. If you are interested in getting more involved with your county government and have some spare time on your hands to volunteer, we may have just what you’re looking for.
The list of board openings can be found at http://www.co.tooele.ut.us/boards-committees.htm along with a board application. The applications come directly to me. Once I receive an application, I email the applicant to let them know we received it, and then the applications are forwarded to the County Commission.
Bring on the New Year!
Marilyn Gillette is the Tooele County Clerk.