ST. GEORGE – The Republican Party leadership met Monday and unanimously selected Victor Iverson to serve out the remaining six months of Washington County Commissioner Denny Drake’s term. Iverson won the party’s nomination for the seat with 67 percent of the vote. However, some feel that this move is unfair to Iverson’s General Election Democratic challenger Paul Van Dam.
“I am running against a fellow who already has a big advantage, as the Republican, in a Republican district,” Van Dam said. “This is really over the top in my book. They want to give him every possible advantage, now the advantage of incumbency. They ought to stay out of it, and keep him out of it. But I guess such is the politics in Washington County.”
When it was learned that Denny Drake was leaving to serve as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nick Lang, chair of the Washington County Republican Party, said the Republican Party called a Special County Central Committee meeting – made up of the chairs and vice chairs of each of the 88 precincts in Washington County that participated in the Washington County convention.
The committee unanimously chose Iverson as the name that they wanted the executive committee to put forth as the replacement, Lang said.
Utah Code Section 20A, or the Election Code, is the statute that outlines how elected office vacancies must be filled in the state of Utah, Lang said. If it is a short term vacancy – less than a year – the party in which the vacancy belongs gets to chose the interim appointment. If it’s more than that allotted time, a special election is held.
“Last night in our executive committee meeting, we read that statute word for word and made sure we followed exactly what the state law is,” Lang said. “We could not, not pick Iverson. He ran for that seat. Iverson was elected by the delegates at the Washington County Convention by 67 percent – more than two thirds the vote.”
The people of the party overwhelmingly selected Victor Iverson. State statute said that the party is the one – if it is on a short term basis – the party is the one to fill that short term vacancy. There is so much going on in Washington County, and the issues are so pressing, the Republican Party felt it was vital to have a full commission. With Iverson’s background in public lands, we felt that we needed him and his experience in this interim position.
Iverson said he was grateful for the opportunity to fill the vacancy.
“Washington County has always had solid and strong leadership,” Iverson said. “The current County Commission is outstanding. Commissioner Drake is a man with tremendous class, solid integrity, and I feel honored to finish the last six months of his term.”
Van Dam said:
What qualifications does he have on the county level? He is not acquainted with county government, has not been in law enforcement. I have been the Salt Lake County Attorney. For four years I dealt with the county’s problems, both civil and criminal. This is a fellow that has no background in any of those matters or virtually anything else. Even though he has been on the federal staff, my position at the attorney general’s office gives me a real grasp on state and county relationships, and how that relates to the federal government.
“I don’t see how following the Utah state statute can be unfair,” Lang said. “We followed exactly word for word, what the statute told us to do. I don’t see how following the statute can be deemed unfair. If it is unfair then the law needs to change, but right now that is how the law is.”
The state statute allows for short term vacancies of elected officials to be filled by the party of which that vacancy belongs. If Denny Drake had been a Democrat, I am sure the Democratic Party would have appointed Mr. Van Dam to fill that spot. I did not ask to fill the vacant, but I am happy to serve.
At 4 p.m., Monday, contingent upon the County Commission’s approval, Iverson will be sworn in as the interim county commissioner.
- Commission Seat B: Victor Iverson seeks county commission nomination
- Drake resigns to serve as mission president, replacement to be determined
- Van Dam says experience in law qualifies him as best candidate for County Commission Seat B
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