Republicans choose nominees for county commission; sheriff weighs in, gives endorsement

ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Republican Convention is just around the corner. While a number of races for the party’s nomination to this or that office are uncontested this year, others, such as the nomination for Washington County Commission Seats A and B, play host to numerous candidates. Five men, including incumbent James Eardley, vie for Seat A, while three vie for Seat B; they are listed below.

Whomever the delegates pick at the at the county convention this Saturday will go on to face Democratic challengers Chris White for Seat A, and Paul Van Dam for Seat B.

In general, it is the role of the county commission to act as both the legislative and executive branches of county government. There are three commissioners per county, designated as seats A, B and C.

Seats A and B are up for grabs this year, with Seat C, currently held by Commissioner Alan Gardner, not up for election for another two years. Eardley, who occupies Seat A, is seeking re-election while Commissioner Denny Drake, Seat B, is not.

The Washington County Commission manages a $16 million budget, Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said, over 50 percent of which goes to the Sheriff’s Office and Purgatory Correctional Facility. Although he would not endorse a candidate for Seat B, Pulsipher does endorse the incumbent, James Eardley, for Seat A.

“I have honestly been in Washington County since January of 1987,”  Pulsipher said. He remembers the commission before and after Eardley was elected. He saw fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism  develop that, over time, has made Washington County what it is, he said. Eardley has that knowledge and expertise to pass on over the coming and subsequent term.

He remembers when the commission would borrow from the bank to operate the county for the coming year, Pulsipher said, and then they would repay the bank at year’s end when taxes were collected. When Eardley and others were elected, they started putting money aside until the county no longer had to borrow its operating budget for the year but had it in the bank in advance. As it was expended, they would replenish it annually as taxes were collected.

Pulsipher said:

That fiscal responsibility, that fiscal conservatism is what made Washington County to be able to go through this downturn of the economy. Yes, they had to do some cutbacks  …  but Washington County did not go through that crash that happened to some other areas around us because of the prior planning and mentality of the commissioners.

Now, Alan Gardner’s not running again in 2 years …. who’s going to pass that knowledge? … I’m supporting Jim Eardley for one more term so he’s there to train the new guy that comes in, in Seat B, and then also he’ll still be there for whoever gets Alan Gardner’s  position in two years.

Washington County didn’t get to where we’re at just by chance.

Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson, who works with the County Commission on occasion, said he believes those who sit on the County Commission should have the whole county’s interest at heart. There is more to Washington County than St. George and its immediate neighbors, he said.

There are also places like Enterprise and Springdale and everywhere in-between.

“We are all intertwined,” Neilson said. “We’re all Southern Utah.”

To assist delegates and voters, St. George News offers separate reports on each of the Republican candidates seeking the party’s nomination for commission candidacy:

Candidates for Commission Seat A

Candidates for Commission Seat B

Republican delegates and party members can learn more about each of the candidates by attending the Washington County Republican Convention will be held on Saturday, at the Gardner Center Ballroom at Dixie State University,  225 South 700 East, in St. George. Registration and electioneering begin at 7 a.m., with the convention officially starting at 8 a.m.

St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Ken April 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Anyone but McArthur! Enough is enough. His land give away to Almquist should be a great reason to keep him away from ruining St George anymore!

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