OGDEN — A new slate of leaders will be coming to the Weber County Democratic Party.
The organization holds its convention on Saturday, and with Chairperson Zach Thomas not seeking reelection after back to back two-year terms in the post, new leadership is in the offing. Two hopefuls are seeking the top spot, Kerry Wayne and Carly Cassidy.
Kate Miller, now the secretary of the party, is the sole candidate for vice chairperson. Aubrey Allen, the incumbent, isn’t seeking reelection.
Joshua Peterson is the only candidate for secretary, to succeed Miller. Jeremy Shinoda is the sole hopeful for party treasurer, to replace Linda Mitchell, who isn’t running again.
Thomas, a Weber State University student, isn’t running again to focus more on school and other things, he said. He’s optimistic about the future of the party here in Weber County, where Republicans dominate despite scattered blue zones, chiefly in the Ogden area. “I think prospects are bright, the party just needs to unite for a common good,” Thomas said.
The convention will be held virtually starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, featuring addresses by Ben McAdams, the former Democratic U.S. House member for Utah, and Utah Rep. Rosemary Lesser, Weber County’s sole Democrat in the state legislature. It will be viewable by the public from the party’s Facebook page, facebook.com/WeberDemocrats.
The Weber County Republican Party holds its internal elections on May 8.
THE CANDIDATESIn a statement on his candidacy to Weber County Democrats, Wayne, one of the two candidates for chair, put a focus on his involvement in the party.
“We need real world experience, dependability, independence and a proven work ethic at the helm of the party if we want to be successful and I bring those attributes to the table. My experience this past six years in the party includes board member, candidate and volunteer,” said Wayne, who’s from Marriott-Slaterville. He unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for the District 29 seat in the Utah House in 2018 and last year.
He called for community engagement, efforts to increase voter turnout, year-round fundraising and involvement with Black, Latino, labor and women’s groups. He also called for creation of a scholarship in honor of the late Lou Shurtliff, who held the District 10 Utah House seat, now held by Lesser, until her death last December.
“With your support we can turn Weber County blue. I have the experience, energy and time to make that happen,” Wayne said. He cited endorsements from several Weber County Democrats.
Cassidy, from the Eden area, said she’d push for continued growth, on top of the growth she said the party has had in recent years. “To be successful in a state like Utah, we have to be willing to create adventurous and innovative approaches that we can use to convince voters that Democratic values are right for them,” she said.
More specifically, she calls for fewer restrictions on “issue and identity caucuses,” using funds with firms that share party values and increased transparency with regard to party contracts and expenditures. She’d also like to see more efforts to connect with other groups that promote civic engagement and “embrace the Democratic cause.”
“My plan for expanding on the growth the party has seen over the last few years will require a very active executive board,” she said. She’s gotten to know the other board hopefuls, she said, and they “have all committed that they will be active in building the party.”
She’s a recent Weber State University graduate planning to seek a master’s degree in public administration starting in the fall. Her involvement with the party started in 2018 when she volunteered for Shurtliff’s Utah House campaign that year.
Miller, the vice chairperson hopeful, has volunteered with the Weber County Democratic Party for the last three years and has produced more than 100 newsletters as the party’s communications director. “I plan to take on an active role as county party vice chair and I know we can make strides together!” she said.
Peterson, the secretary candidate, has served as president of College Democrats at Weber State University since 2019. He’s also helped organize several food drives for the Weber County Democratic Party and other Democratic Party causes. In 2020 elections, he served as the party’s field director for the races for the District 9, 10 and 11 Utah House seats.
Shinoda, the hopeful for treasurer, committed to “prompt and accurate reporting” of Democratic Party financial information. He serves other roles in the party, sits on the Ogden Diversity Commission and previously served as a member of the Ogden School District Board of Education.
Weber County Republicans are still in the process of seeking candidates for the party’s leadership posts — chairperson, vice chairperson, treasurer and secretary. Lacy Richards, the current chairperson, said she won’t seek the post and that one candidate for the top spot has thus far stepped forward, Jake Sawyer of Ogden, who’s handled communications for the party.