OGDEN — The local political season is getting ready, with the race for Weber County Commission position now occupied by Scott Jenkins arousing the most apparent interest.
Jenkins, a Republican, will not seek re-election and five prospects have already outlined plans to run for the seat. On the GOP side, the candidates are Sharon Bolos, the former mayor of West Haven; North Ogden City Council Member Phil Swanson; Bren Edwards, vice chairman of the Western Weber Planning Commission; and Bill Olson, who is active in the local Republican Party.
Mike Blodgett, who unsuccessfully ran for the Utah House District 10 seat last year after Rep. Lou Shurtliff died, is running as a Democrat.
Jenkins, who previously served as a Utah state senator and mayor of Plain City, among other positions, said he was slowing down. He holds Seat B of the three-member Weber County Commission. “The end of the year will be 34 years (of public service). I am tired. I am exhausted,” he said.
Gage Froerer, who holds seat A on the county commission, which is also up for election this cycle, released a statement on Wednesday formalizing his intention to seek a second term. He’s the only hope the post emerges publicly so far.
“I am committed to continuing my mission to promote economic development, put our communities first, and use your hard-earned tax dollars responsibly,” Froerer, a Republican, said in a statement. “Today, I pledge to be a voice for the people of Weber County, to fight for the rights of our residents, and to build trust in local government.”
Jim Harvey is the third county commissioner, but his seat is not up for grabs this cycle.
The Republican slate of County commissioner candidates for seat B will likely be narrowed at the March 26 Weber County Republican Party convention. The four hopefuls will seek a spot on the GOP primary ballot at the convention while Bolos is also applying for a spot via collecting signatures from registered voters.
The official application period runs from next Monday to March 4. Primary voting ends June 28.
Here’s a rundown of the hopefuls, starting with the GOP side, then the Democratic hopeful:
Sharon Bolos: She served two terms as mayor of West Haven before losing last fall to Rob Vanderwood in his bid for a third term. Prior to being mayor, she served on the West Haven City Council. On top of that, she recently earned a master’s degree in public administration from Southern Utah University, she said, adding to her resume.
“I think it’s a good choice and I have a lot to offer the county,” she said.
Growth, she said, is a big deal and she said her experience in West Haven, one of Utah’s fastest growing cities, would help address the problem at the county. Ensuring Weber County also receives its fair share of state funding is a priority.
She said she had collected enough signatures on petitions to secure a place on the primary ballot.
Phil Swanson: He has been a member of North Ogden City Council for about eight years and said growth, taxes and public safety are big issues.
To cope with growth, one of the keys, he says, is to balance property rights with the need for housing in the “missing middle” – i.e. houses larger than apartments but smaller than traditional single-family homes.
Regarding taxes, he would use “results-based budgeting” to address spending and budgeting, looking at how much has been spent and whether funding has met intended goals. This is how he approached spending and budgeting as a member of North Ogden Town Council.
When it comes to public safety, his goal would be to make sure first responders “are well taken care of.”
Bren Edwards: Edwards served for six years on the Western Weber Planning Commission, an advisory group on certain planning issues to the Weber County Commission. He also chairs the board of the Taylor-West Weber Water Improvement District, a special service district that handles culinary water issues in parts of western Weber County.
“I always wanted to get involved, get involved,” the Taylor-area resident said. His great-grandfather Bud Favero served on the county commission in the late 1960s, and Edwards wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“My intention to race has nothing to do with politics or power. I just feel like I have gained the knowledge and experience over the years to help this county continue to move in a positive direction,” he said in a Facebook post.
Bill Olson: He is the retired CEO of a molecular diagnostics company and cites his many years of business experience. He also held various roles in the Weber County and Utah Republican parties.
Seeing how many small businesses have been affected by COVID-19, one of his goals would be to help these entities.
“I am a complete platform Republican… that means I adhere to the values and principles of our platform. All efforts to govern should begin with these values and principles,” he said during his website.
Mike Blodgett: The only Democratic candidate, so far anyway, works for a family printing company. He is also a bicycle mechanic.
Part of his goal in the race is to ensure that the Republican general election hopeful has competition from the Democratic Party. He also cited his strong affection for Weber County, where he has lived most of his life.
“I love Weber County and think it’s a great place to live,” he said.
According to him, the main issues that need to be addressed are homelessness, mental illness and the lack of affordable housing.