The Utah Constitution outlines a careful and deliberative process to consider a change in the form of government.
I was careful to select petitioners along with myself who represent the demographics of the county but who feel there is a better solution in county government. We are represented by a member from Spanish Valley, Monticello, Paiute Mesa, Blanding and White Mesa.
If a study committee is formed, it will represent a broad demographic of the county with members recommended by the County Commission and each of the three incorporated cities, Bluff, Blanding and Monticello. I don’t know what, if any, change in government a study committee will recommend. That is for them to decide. I personally favor a Five Member Commission.
There are a number of reasons a Five Member County Commission makes sense. Primary among these is that it provides a greater voice to the people. It does this in numerous ways, among which are:
1) Share The Load. Five members share the workload more effectively than three. This may give more time to any individual commissioner to spend on specific issues of concern. Also, it may help to prevent council members from becoming overworked, burned out and less effective. We have an enormous county. There is plenty of work to go around.
2) Better Decisions. More people involved in the discussion almost always leads to better ideas because there is more variety of opinion, experience and expertise. At times, more voices on a commission can make decisions more difficult or the commission less responsive. However, most towns, cities and counties run just fine with a five-member commission/council. I maintain that if the discussion doesn’t clearly identify the best solution on an issue, then more time and a more deliberate approach should be taken. Sometimes, especially in government, slower is better.
3) Share the Power. A five-member commission shares the power and the attendant responsibility and liability with more people. In this case, there is certainly safety in numbers. Safety for the commission as more people share in the decisions being made and more safety for the citizens against possible abuse of power.
4) More Responsive. Even though every commission member represents the entire county, it has been decided we will have districts. Five districts puts each representative closer geographically, and likely more in tune with the citizens in their district. This is in turn makes them more accessible to the citizens and more understanding and responsive to their needs and opinions.
5) Open Meetings Compliance. There has been debate in the Utah legislature to either relax or tighten up on three-member commission compliance with the Open Meetings Act. Under current law, any two commissioners or council members constitute a quorum and may violate, or appear to violate, the act with many of their conversations. These conversations, when they are in the spirit of the Open Meetings Act, facilitate good governance and can happen legally with a five-member commission.
6) Restore Representation for Blanding. Since I originally published this paper, decisions by a federal judge have stripped Blanding of representation as a legally protected “community of interest”. A five-member commission restores this representation as explained in #4 above.
It has been claimed that this initiative is a reaction to the election of two native commissioners. That claim is patently false. I asked the prior commissioners to place the question on the ballot. I asked Judge Shelby to consider a five-member commission as a better alternative, both in person and in writing before the election.
I have been asked if I would have started this process had the election turned out differently. The answer is absolutely YES! I had already started the process and all six reasons would still have been valid. The ethnic makeup of the commission doesn’t change anything.
The hallmark of our nation is government of the people, by the people and for the people. Currently, we have government by court order, dominated by outside parties, hardly democratic. The race or ethnic background of any commissioner is not relevant to me. I only want them to be chosen by the people.
A change in the form of government will require TWO countywide votes of ALL Voters before any change could be made. That is democracy.
We have a right to petition our government and be self-governed. Vote for self-determination, Vote FOR the Study Committee.