Longtime Utah County Clerk/Auditor Bryan Thompson was ousted from his position at the Utah County Republican nominating convention Saturday in Provo.
The party uses the nominating convention to select which candidates will represent Republicans on November’s ballot. If a candidate gets 60 percent or more of the delegates’ votes, they automatically advance. If no candidate gets more than 60 percent, the top two candidates advance to a primary. A candidate may alternatively gather signatures to get their name on the primary ballot.
In the first and only round of voting for the clerk/auditor’s position, Thompson received only 24.9 percent of the votes of the more than 1,300 delegates who voted in the race. He lost big to Amelia Powers, who raked in 74 percent of votes — 14 percent more than needed to block Thompson from advancing to the primary.
Utah County had a few election glitches during the 2017 municipal and special congressional election — something Thompson acknowledged during his stump speech before the vote.
Thompson specifically cited an incident where 68,000 ballots with a Republican primary question were mistakenly sent to unaffiliated voters.
Thompson focused on what his office had done to correct that issue after the fact, implementing internal quality checks and communicating regularly with other clerks on a statewide basis.
Powers said her vision for the office was simple: integrity of elections, defined processes, transparency and availability of public information and preparation for growth through modernization and cost reduction.
“My No. 1 priority in this office will be to secure our voting processes,” Powers said. “So that everyone knows that their vote was counted and counted correctly. I will ensure that we have systems in place to make sure we have a secure, accurate and timely election results, that we can all have confidence in.”
Preparing for the county’s growth through modernization and cost reduction is important to the county, she said, and the county needs to tap into its resources to make sure the clerk/auditor’s systems are the best they can be.
“It is time to update our systems, implement efficiencies and technology and we need to find processes that allows transparency and accountability,” Powers said. “I have the knowledge, skills and pride to make this happen in a timely and positive way.”
Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee was one of the few other county candidates to secure a large enough margin to avoid a primary, gathering more than 76 percent of the vote to his closest opponent’s 20 percent.
The other commission seat, being left open by embattled Commissioner Greg Graves, had a field of five candidates narrowed to two: Only Tom Sakievich and Tanner Ainge will advance to a Republican primary for the seat.
The Utah County sheriff’s field was narrowed. Pleasant Grove Police Chief Mike Smith secured more than 60 percent of the vote, though U.S. Marshal Jim Phelps gathered signatures and will therefore advance to a primary against Smith, who had also gathered signatures to get on the ballot. Current Utah County Undersheriff Darin Durfey and candidate Michael Freeman were eliminated from the race.
In the race for Utah County Attorney, neither Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander or former Juab County Attorney David Leavitt cleared the 60 percent threshold, meaning the two will again face off in a primary June 26.
Several Utah House of Representatives incumbents did not face challengers at the convention level, but were affirmed as the party’s convention candidates at Saturday’s convention, including Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork; Norm Thurston, R-Provo; Adam Robertson, R-Provo; Val Peterson, R-Orem; Keven Stratton, R-Orem; and Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs.
An earlier version of this article misreported the numbers for the Utah County Attorney's race.