At least six candidates intend to vie for the Utah County Commission seat currently held by Greg Graves.
Graves, who has told the Daily Herald previously that he does not intend to run for re-election, has been called on many to resign after a Utah County employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against him and a subsequent investigative report that concluded Graves bullied county employees.
Graves’ term will end in December. Whoever wins the Nov. 6 general election will take office in Jan. 2019.
Five candidates have filed intent-to-gather-signature forms with the Utah County Clerk’s office to run for Utah County Commission, Seat A, and one more has announced an intent to file in March.
If those candidates gather the required number of signatures, they will be guaranteed a spot on the primary ballot June 26. Filing intent-to-gather-signature forms is not a formal declaration of candidacy, and candidates must still declare candidacy during the filing period in March. Candidates can continue to file these forms through March 15.
Candidates can gather signatures, be selected via their party’s convention or participate in both routes to obtain a spot on the primary ballot in June.
Here’s a look at who has filed and announced so far for the seat:
Russell Billings has filed intent-to-gather-signatures to get on the ballot, though he says at this time he does not plan to gather signatures but will go through the convention process. A longtime employee of the Provo Police Department, Billings has worked in the patrol division, narcotics enforcement team and is currently a detective.
Billings also works with the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, a multi-agency effort to “identify, investigate and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Utah County area,” according to utahcounty.gov.
“I work with a lot of county employees,” Billings said. “I hear the concerns of the employees and citizens while working, and it’s become an interest of mine to do this and be part of making things better.”
His 25 years as a police officer with a solid record should speak for itself about his integrity to be able to do the job, he said.
“I just want to do my best to make things better and not put a blight on seat A, which has had several issues in the past,” Billings said.
The Daily Herald was unable to connect James Ashman by deadline for this story. Ashman has filed intent to gather signatures for Utah County Commission Seat A, is a Republican and lives in Mapleton, according to his filing paperwork.
James Dixon announced his candidacy early in December, and filed as a Republican to gather signatures for the seat, though he plans to take the dual route to the ballot.
Previous experience in the public sector includes four years on the Lehi City Planning Commission as well as 12 years on the Lehi City Council, according to his website.
Dixon has also previously served as both a precinct chair and legislative district chair within the Utah County Republican Party.
Dixon has also worked in Rural Development for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and has a master’s degree in public administration from Brigham Young University.
“I am passionate about bridging the gap between citizens and their government. My desire for Utah County is to see businesses and communities grow and prosper,” Dixon said in a press release.
Karen Ellingson announced Friday her intent to run for the seat as a Republican, and filed to gather signatures to get on the ballot. She plans to take the dual route to the ballot by also going through convention.
“It’s time to do more than just recognize that the hostile behavior and lack of leadership over the last four years has been unacceptable,” Ellingson said in a press release. “We need a commissioner who will fulfill the dual responsibilities to be both a member of a legislative body and a leader in the workplace.”
Ellingson’s past experience includes two terms on the Springville Library board of directors and chairing the board for three years during the construction of the new library, the release says.
She also served on the Springville Board of Adjustment and currently sits on the Springville Planning Commission.
Ellingson has a bachelor’s degree in health science with an emphasis in public health, and has a master’s degree in public administration from BYU.
Tanner Ainge, a familiar face considering his recent congressional run, was the first to announce and file as a Republican for the seat.
Ainge, an attorney and business advisor, had no political experience coming into his congressional bid, but focused his campaign on his experience in the private sector.
In the Facebook post, which announced his run for the commission seat, Ainge said he had jumped back into his work and routine following his loss in the Republican primary to now-Congressman John Curtis.
“But, we have also found that when you spend an entire summer daily expressing your love for this state and country and act out of a genuine desire to serve and represent this community, it sticks with you,” the Facebook post said. “Those feelings are no longer buried down like they were for much of our lives, but sit right at the surface and are ready to be acted upon.”
Ainge also said he plans to take the dual path to get on the ballot, both by gathering signatures and by going through the convention system.
Teri McCabe does not intend to gather signatures in her run for commission, but participate in the caucus-convention system. She said she is not announcing which party she is running with until she files for candidacy in March.
McCabe has a master’s degree in athletic training from BYU, and currently works as a substitute school teacher at locations around Utah County.
McCabe said she left a neighborhood meeting about a year ago wondering what more she could do about problems in her community. The next morning, she said, she felt heavenly inspiration to run for commission.
For the last year, she has been attending Utah County Commission meetings and learning about county issues.
Addressing growth in the county is one of her top issues, McCabe said, because if projected growth is not addressed now, the county will have to play catch up later. Transportation, water and agriculture are a few other issues she believes should be prioritized.
Updated filing information for local candidates can be found at utahcounty.gov.