Saturday, April 29, 2006

Utah County Republican Convention Summary

The Utah County Republican Convention was both what I expected and not what I expected. For a first-time delegate, at first it was fairly confusing, and there were some things that might have been explained better. (I'm planning to write a letter to the convention planners, both to thank them and to make a few suggestions. I'll probably post the letter here also.) It was fun to "live-blog" it, also, with the help of my indispensable husband and my cell phone.

When I received my credentials, I was given a packet with my ballots (quarter-sized pieces of paper for each race, with two each for the three races with three candidates) and a schedule. I noted on the schedule that our Senate District caucus was scheduled to start in fifteen minutes, but as our district doesn't have a race this election cycle, I didn't figure it was going to be a crowded meeting. As Brad noted earlier, boy, was I wrong. The room was packed, and there was no way for me to get in, or even hear anything. So I gave up and went into the cafeteria to meet and talk with more candidates (and to get food! My goodness, there was a lot of sugar in that room. Almost every table had some kind of food--from candies to rolls from Magleby's to Krispy Kreme donuts. And lots of water bottles with candidates' information stuck on them. These came in very handy later in the very hot auditorium).

Our legislative caucus was much less crowded. I was able to spend a little time talking with our state representative (Mike Morley), and the leg (pronounced "ledge") chair totally recognized me and remembered that I live "right across from the park". That was cool. Other than that, though, the meeting was pretty boilerplate political speech, and I have to admit I got a little bored. And then it was time to go to the main meeting.

Of the 1205 county delegates elected at precinct meetings, only 61 were absent, meaning there was 96% attendance. We were packed into the auditorium, and just as I feared, it got pretty hot in there. Every seat, and then some, was filled. It was pretty exciting to be in a room with so many other political junkies--usually it's just me and my husband! Before the nominating session opened, I chatted with my seat-mates--it turned out we were all first-time delegates, and we had a good (and useful) time talking about why we favored one candidate over another. One of the women I spoke to works for the county, and she shared with me her concerns about some of the commissioners. I didn't end up changing my mind over anything she said, but it was good to get more information.

Once the opening ceremonies and introductions were over, the formal nomination process began. Each candidate had a friend or two come up to the microphone with him, and the friends would nominate and second the nomination. Then the candidate spoke briefly. By briefly, I mean really briefly. The whole process (from nomination to candidate speech) was allotted exactly three minutes. This was greatly appreciated by the crowd. Of course, less than three minutes doesn't allow much time to get to know the candidate. But hopefully most of the delegates had done that before the convention!

For myself, I am incredibly grateful for the Delegate Education Expo sponsored by Citizens' Resource. This afternoon-long event, held on April 8th, featured debates, questions and answer sessions, and meet-the-candidate time. Although I have received reams of election mail and many, many emails, I learned the most about the candidates and formed my main opinions from this event. It was a great idea, and one that I hope will be continued in the future.

The first ballot included both County Commission Seats (A & B) and County Attorney. These have been the most acrimonious races, at least at the county-wide level. After the ballots were taken out of the room to be counted, the nominations for Clerk/Auditor and Treasurer began. We voted on those, and while those ballots were taken out of the room, we were treated to a musical number by Cory Sorensen. It was a great song, but one where you wanted to clap along, but your hands were still stinging from all the other clapping you had done earlier. Oh well. Then the first results were announced:
County Commission Seat A
  • Howard Stone 4%
  • Jerry Grover 46%
  • Gary J. Anderson 50%
Because no candidate got more than 60%, another ballot was called for.

County Commission Seat B
  • Shirrel R. Young 2%
  • Bill Ellis 36%
  • Steve White 62%
Because Commissioner White polled more than 60%, there is no primary and he becomes the Republican party candidate for the general election.

County Attorney
  • Curtis Larson 19%
  • Kay Bryson 12%
  • Jeff Buhman 69%
When Kay Bryson's numbers were announced, there were cheers, boos, and clapping. Emotion has run pretty high over Kay Bryson this election season, and it was apparent not only in the numbers, but in the reaction.

While we were waiting for the rest of the election results, we were able to hear from our federal candidates--although we wouldn't be voting on these, many of the county delegates are state delegates as well. We heard from Orrin Hatch and one of his opponents, Brian Jenkins. We also heard from the 3rd and 2nd Congressional District candidates. There was also a bit of party constitutional business (pretty boring). And then, just before the meeting adjourned, the final results were announced:

County Commission Seat A
  • Jerry Grover 44%
  • Gary J Anderson 56%
Because neither polled 60% on the second round, this race will have a primary.

County Clerk/Auditor
  • Cary McConnell 42%
  • Bryan Thompson 58%
Because there are only two candidates, and neither polled 60%, we will have a primary in this race.

County Treasurer
  • Kim Jackson 28.5%
  • Robert Kirk 71.5%
Robert Kirk will be the Republican candidate for County Treasurer. (There's not a Democratic candidate, so basically he's the next treasurer.)

Thanks should be given to Payson High School, for letting us use their school as well as treating us to a performance of the Payson HS Pipe Band--wow, they were amazing! I love bagpipe music, and they played very well indeed. The national anthem was sung by a member of the high school Trouveres (I can't remember her name), and she did a wonderful job.

I am so incredibly glad I was able to be a part of this. It was amazing to see how our government works (at this level), and it was a fun and diverting morning.

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