Davis Commission Seat B candidates voice priorities
FARMINGTON — First-term Davis County Commissioner Lorene Kamalu has a prominent challenger in her first bid for re-election in Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd. The two are facing off in the June 28 Republican primary after splitting the delegate vote at the county GOP convention in March.
Shepherd got 50.42% to Kamalu’s 49.58%, meaning a primary election is required. No other parties are fielding candidates, so the GOP primary winner will be unopposed in November.
Kamalu said she has found success on the commission by working hard to bring people together and improving public health and safety initiatives. “It takes a lot of people,” she said. “I am a convener. I am proud of that reputation of being responsive.”
That’s especially useful, she said, because the county does not provide great amounts of direct services — but it does work with major partners, such as Davis Behavioral Health and the Safe Harbor Crisis Center.
She said the commission, and other county officials, deserve credit for maintaining the county’s status as having one of the lowest costs of government in Utah.
Managing the county’s fiscal situation and working to protect both public health and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic were listed by Kamalu as successes during her tenure in office.
Kamalu, asked about Shepherd’s candidacy, said, “I never really expected to be unopposed. I was surprised when he chose to run against me, but I’m not taking it personally. I’m staying focused on my own campaign and doing work for Davis County.”
Shepherd said he promised Clearfield voters this would be his last term, he is in his third term, so he’s looking forward to a shot at the Commission Seat B.
“Lorene and I are good friends and I respect her,” Shepherd said. “But I do feel that we need commissioners that understand things better from a city level and a local government perspective. The county does a good job working with the communities on a monthly basis, but I think we can do better.”
He remains chagrined at the county’s transfer of paramedic services from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office to city fire departments and local fire districts. The move looked good to the county, but cities are having to raise taxes to take on the service, he said.
Shepherd said he wished the county would have paused the move until a “revenue neutral” transition was found.
He also thinks the county should “at least discuss” adopting a different form of government, one not dependent on “three people with their offices right next to each other.”
Shepherd noted that Tooele County has a five-person commission whose members are part-time, with a full-time county manager. Such a form would widen representation while reducing county expenses, he said, but added there are other forms to consider as well.
He would not advocate a form of government like Salt Lake County’s, with a full-time mayor and full-time commissioners.
Shepherd said there was “no interest whatsoever” in studying a different form of government when he brought it up during the GOP convention process. “We owe it to the voters to at least look at this,” Shepherd said.