Cox hangs onto lead, becomes Republican nominee for County Commission

ST. GEORGE – The question of who is to be the Republican nominee for the Washington County Commission Seat C was answered Monday with official canvass results of the June 28 primary election.

Dean Cox came out ahead of Gil Almquist by 114 votes for the Republican nomination with 7,247 votes to 7,133 – or 50.4 percent to 49.9 percent.

Washington County Administrator Dean Cox, St. George, Utah, Sept. 30, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Dean Cox, St. George, Utah, Sept. 30, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The closeness of the final results didn’t surprise Cox, who said the race could really have gone either way.

Initial ballot results released following the primary election placed Cox ahead of Almquist by 70 votes. While that margin widened ever so slightly as mail-in ballots came in and were counted, the totals remained close and in Cox’s favor.

Neither Cox or Almquist would officially announce victory or defeat until the final numbers were released and adopted by the Washington County Commission Monday, which it did with a unanimous vote.

“I just became the (Republican) nominee. I’m not elected,” Cox said as he made reference to the other contenders in the race: independent candidates Josh Warburton and Greg Aldred.

“I intend to work very hard for the November election,” Cox said.

Almquist has previously thanked Cox for running a clean and positive campaign leading up to the primary election. He has also thanked his family and supporters.

“My dedication and service to Washington county will continue as strong as ever,” Almquist said in a text Monday.

Gil Almquist, Washington County Republican nominating convention, Hurricane, Utah, April 16, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Gil Almquist speaking at the Washington County Republican nominating convention, Hurricane, Utah, April 16, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“My sincere thanks to the thousands of supporters and those who worked diligently on the campaign,” he said. “We brought forth critical issues facing the citizens and will continue to do so. My door remains open. Thanks again.”

Cox referred to Almquist as a quality man and candidate, and added that when he originally learned Almquist was running, he had second thoughts.

“I have a lot of respect for Gil, and it made me very, very apprehensive to even get involved in a race with him,” Cox said.

Despite the apprehension, Cox forged ahead to the Republican Party’s county convention in April where he and Almquist tied at 224 delegate votes each in the second round.

Cox, who currently works as the Washington County Administrator, will be resigning from the position Aug. 15. He planned to resign no matter the outcome of the election, he said. While he has also been involved in politics for many years, including serving as the chair of the Washington County Republican Party for a time, this is Cox’s first run for public office.

As for Almquist, he has previously said he will not rule out future runs for public office. He has been involved in municipal government for around 24 years as a member of the St. George Planning Commission and City Council.

According to the official canvas information, 17,577 out of the county’s 72,611 registered voters voted in the primarily election, making for a total turnout of 24.21 percent.

“One in four people voted,” Washington County Clerk Kim Hafen said. “It’s a few people making a decision for a lot of people,” he said.

While polling locations were offered to voters during early voting and the day of the primary election, the county also sent out 13,412 vote-by-mail ballots with 7,315 being returned and counted. That is a return of 54.5 percent, Hafen said.

St. George residents participating in early voting for the Utah primary election, St. George, Utah, June 24, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
St. George residents participating in early voting for the Utah primary election, St. George, Utah, June 24, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Some areas that had supplied polling locations in the past were changed to vote-by-mail this year. This included Enterprise and New Harmony, as well as the unincorporated communities around them.

While voting by mail has been the norm for the Hildale area, a polling location was opened in the small border town this year. Out of 406 registered voters, 24 took advantage of the polling station.

Voter turnout in Hildale has been significantly higher when mail-in ballots are offered, Hafen said.

How people voted

  • Polling location: 8,682 ballots | Turnout: 12.34 percent
  • Early voting: 1,058 ballots | Turnout: 1.46 percent
  • Absentee/Up to Election Day: 5,634 ballots | Turnout: 7.76 percent
  • Absentee/After Election Day: 1531 ballots | Turnout: 2.11 percent
  • Provisional: 242 ballots | Turnout: 0.33 percent
  • Remakes/Damaged ballots: 150 ballots | Turnout: 0.21
  • Canvas total: 17,577 ballots | Turnout: 24.21 percent

A total of 329 provisional ballots were turned in, with 87 not being counted for various reasons. The top three reasons these ballots were not counted was due to prospective voters not being registered to vote (39 ballots), not being affiliated with the party that were voting for (23 ballots), and already having voted (nine ballots).

The Republican Party in Utah holds primary elections that are not open to unaffiliated voters, while the Utah Democratic Party allows them.

Out of an additional 1,531 absentee ballots that were received post-June 28, 304 were not counted. This is due to 104 mail-in ballots being surrendered at a polling location while 200 others were disqualified for late postmarks.

Canvased primary election results in Washington County

U.S Senate

MISTY K. SNOW 892 (55.92%)
JONATHAN SWINTON 703 (44.08%)

STATE Governor

GARY R. HERBERT 8736 (58.82%)
JONATHAN JOHNSON 6115 (41.18%)

STATE House District 75

WALT BROOKS 2236 (57.29%)
STEVEN D. KEMP 1667 (42.71%)

County Commission Seat C

GIL ALMQUIST 7133 (49.6%)
DEAN COX 7247 (50.4%)

STATE School Board 15 (representing Iron and Washington counties)

SCOTT F. SMITH 3698 (23.64%)
MICHELLE BOULTER 5447 (34.82%)
WESLEY J. CHRISTIANSEN 3613 (23.09%)
R. NEIL WALTER 2887 (18.45%)

Local School Board 1

RICHELLE H. NELSON 489 (22.31%)
BECKY DUNN 1068 (48.72%)
BRIAN LEE BECKSTROM 253 (11.54%)
EVAN JOHNSON 139 (6.34%)
KYLE L. WILSON 243 (11.09%)

Local School Board 3

TERRY L. HUTCHINSON 1078 (39.63%)
DEBBRA ZOCKOLL 992 (36.47%)
SUSI LAFAELE 650 (23.9%)

The general election takes place Nov. 7.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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1 Comment

  • Chris July 12, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Good. Almquist is a jerk, and hopefully, this is the end of his political career.

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