For the first time in our history, Tooele County residents are faced with a choice that would change our government for generations to come. As one of the original study committee members, I oppose Proposition 6 for a number of reasons:
Less accountable to the people.
Prop-6 would create a new, high-paid, appointed manager position. This unelected manager would have the power to run executive functions in the county, may even live outside the county, and would only need support from three council members to stay in power. Without the ability to elect, we the people would not be able to directly hold the manager accountable for their actions.
Centralized voting power
The reality of creating districts based on population density, as Prop 6 does, is that each district would have higher density areas that would outvote rural voters in that district. As districts are redrawn to accommodate population growth, more power would be consolidated in the more populous city areas. Consequently, more and more voting power would move to where the population grows the quickest, incentivizing more high-density growth in population centers.
Economic opportunity loss
Changing our government representation to part-time would cause Tooele County to suffer under inadequate and ineffective leadership. Our county is on its way to becoming a major economic player. Because of this, we need decisive leadership, not bigger government with more leaders who are less involved and less informed. We need full-time leaders who can dedicate all their time to serve us effectively.
We must change ourselves
There is no need for a long-lasting structure change based on temporary personal frustrations. Just because some may not like a current county official or a decision they made, remember that it was We The People that put them into office. The structure itself is not to blame. It is actually a great structure used by 36 percent of all counties nationwide with populations of 50k or more (according to 2014 ICMA statistics). In Utah, that number jumps to 78 percent of all counties with a population of 50k or more, showing that it is the most widely used model for our state.
Vote No on Prop-6!
In closing, I want to mention that regardless of how the Prop-6 vote goes, the resulting vote will outlast any of the officials that are currently in office. Two of them are not seeking reelection this election cycle, which means that we are guaranteed to have two new faces for commissioner seats A and B with fresh, new perspectives. These new commissioners will be full-time professionals who will be elected by you, will represent you, and who are accountable to you, regardless of where in the county you live. Make sure that you choose wisely, because no matter what structure we end up with, it’s really the person that you choose that makes the difference.
Whitney Cook was a member of the Prop-14 study committee that researched county governments across Utah. He holds a B.S. in Human Resource Management and is a resident of Grantsville.