Let me say at the outset that I know the Tooele County Form of Government Study Committee worked hard to come up with its recommendation, and the fact that I strenuously disagree with the committee’s conclusion should not take away from that. But the fact is I believe its recommendation will not be in the best interests of our county.
I believe that we must reject the recommendation for a couple of reasons: The lack of accountability of the one who will be at the helm of our county, and your ability to have a say as to who has a lion’s share of decision making and impact ability on our county government.
A major reason this study was undertaken was a lack of enthusiasm for decisions some of the commissioners were making. The study would not have occurred if everyone was happy. But if you consider what is going on right now, you see that the current system works because two of the commissioners who were doing a less than adequate job chose not to run for re-election — probably because they knew they would lose. In other words, your vote can remove a poor decision maker/manager.
That would not be the case under the proposed form of government. Five part-time commissioners would hand over the day-to-day operations of the county to a full-time hired bureaucrat. That person would have a great impact on the tone, direction and management style of our county.
If you believe that the county manager will simply carry out the orders of the part-time commissioners, you are gravely mistaken. The part-time county council will not micromanage the full-time manager; they won’t have the time.
Just look at the impact and direction capability of the Mayor of Tooele City. Although the part-time council passes regulations and laws, it is up to her to bring those things about as she sees fit. The way she handles the day-to-day operations of the city greatly affects the morale and effectiveness of the city employees, as well as how the communities and the counties around us perceive our city. Again, if you doubt me, just look at how much influence and impact the city mayor has as compared to the part-time city council members.
That would be no less true of a county manager. The difference is, if you don’t like how the city mayor/manager handles things, you can fire her at election time.
You may say, well the same is somewhat true of the proposed county form. Not at all! The city council may accept how the mayor acts, so it wouldn’t vote her out of office, even though you would. Similarly, the part-time county commissioners (council members) may believe the county manager’s performance is adequate, and they wouldn’t choose to replace her or him. Remember, the county manager will be far more concerned with making the council members happy than listening to you or me.
In addition, since the county council members would represent specific areas of the county, your representative may agree with you regarding the manager’s lack of performance, but if they are not with the majority of the council regarding the manager, your voice will have no impact at all.
Ultimately, you will have no say regarding the one who would have a lion’s share of decision making, as well as a huge impact, on our county government, its employees, and its citizens.
We are not always happy with the decisions of our full-time county commissioners; sometimes you just don’t get what you were hoping for in a person you select. But what makes you think that will be any different under a new form of government? People are people, whether they are full-time or part-time; whether they are elected or hired. Some people just need to be replaced from their jobs.
When it comes to something as important as your say in your government “managers,” people who can greatly impact your family, you should be able to have a direct say as to who stays or goes!
A change of government form does not change the nature of people. Retain your voice over those who directly impact you. Reject Proposition 6 and work hard at choosing good commissioners, and have the willingness to remove bad ones.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.