Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett ends re-election bid; GOP delegates nominate county candidates

Candidate signs in front of Canyon View High School during the Iron County Republican Convention, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, Cedar City News/St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Incumbent Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett announced he is withdrawing his candidacy in this year’s election and will not seek a fifth term.

Garrett made the surprise announcement during his allotted five-minute candidate speech during the Iron County GOP Convention Saturday afternoon at Canyon View High School in Cedar City.

Incumbent Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett tells delegates he is withdrawing his name from the race, during the Iron County Republican Convention at Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, Cedar City News/St. George News

“I’ve counseled with our team, and I’ve come to the conclusion that we will not move forward with our candidacy,” he told the audience. “As a result, I withdraw my candidacy for Iron County Attorney.”

Garrett, who has been in office for the past 16 years, added he plans to finish out the remainder of his fourth and final term.

“To be clear, I’m not resigning. I will gratefully continue to serve … until my elected term expires,” he said. “I pledge to continue to give my all and just sprint to the tape.”

“I love my job. I feel like I’m good at it,” he added.

Garrett was the fourth and final county attorney candidate to address the audience of more than 200 GOP delegates, party officials, candidates and others gathered at the convention, coming after fellow candidates Scott Burns, Matthew Carling and Chad Dotson.

“The county attorney is a difficult job as all elected positions are,” Garrett said at the beginning of his remarks. “The job is inherently stressful because of our system of laws and checks and balances.”

Nevertheless, Garrett said he has enjoyed working as county attorney, and that he and his family plan to continue to live in Iron County

“This is our home. We hope to remain here for the rest of our lives. We’re not sure what the future holds beyond this year. We look forward with excitement.”

Garrett concluded his speech by endorsing assistant county attorney Dotson as his replacement.

“I’ve had the privilege to work side-by-side with Chad Dotson over the last several years,” Garrett said. “He, I believe, has come to be possessed with the skills, knowledge and temperament to be successful in this endeavor.”

After Garrett’s remarks, many in the auditorium stood and applauded.

Audience members applaud after remarks by Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett during the 2018 Iron County Republican Convention at Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, Cedar City News/St. George News

In the ensuing delegate vote, Dotson received 141 votes out of the 213 ballots cast, or just over 66 percent. Dotson will face former Iron County Attorney Scott Burns in the June 26 primary election, as Burns had gathered the required 476 registered voter signatures to appear on the ballot.

The race for county attorney has therefore gone from four GOP candidates down to two. In addition to Garrett’s bowing out, Carling opted not to collect signatures to appear on the primary ballot and has therefore been eliminated from contention.

Ballots cast at the convention were ranked by numerical preference, allowing multiple rounds of voting to be calculated with a single ballot from each delegate.

According to the preferred voting system, any candidate garnering more than 60 percent of the delegate votes wins the party’s nomination, but races may still go to a primary if two candidates have more than 40 percent of the votes or if one or more other candidates gather the required amount of voter signatures to get their name on the ballot.

In other contested Iron County races, the Republican delegates selected Parowan Police Chief Ken Carpenter to be the party’s nominee for Iron County Sheriff, as incumbent Mark Gower is not running for re-election.

In a four-man race for the GOP’s nomination for sheriff, Carpenter garnered just over 60 percent of the vote and thereby won the nomination. But since all four GOP candidates for sheriff had already gathered the required number of signatures, they will all still appear on the June primary ballot. Joining Carpenter in that race are David Evans, Del Schlosser and Caleb Anderson. All four candidates spoke to the delegates Saturday afternoon.

In addition, both of the contested seats on the Iron County Commission featured races that were close enough to trigger a primary election.

Iron County GOP chairman Andrew Young prepares to welcome delegates to Canyon View High School for the 2018 Iron County Republican Convention, Cedar City, Utah, April 14, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, Cedar City News/St. George News

In the County Commission’s Seat A race, incumbent Mike Bleak received 110 of the 212 delegate votes cast, or 51.9 percent, with challenger Fred Rowley receiving the other 102 votes, or 48.1 percent. They’ll face each other in the primary in June.

In the County Commission Seat B race, five candidates were seeking to occupy the seat of Dale Brinkerhoff, who’s not running for re-election. After the final round of preferential ballots was counted, current Cedar City Council member Paul Cozzens received 109 of the 211 votes, or 51.7 percent, while runner-up Jennie Hendricks received 102 delegate votes, or 48.3 percent. They will be joined on the GOP primary ballot by two other Seat B candidates who’d gathered signatures, namely Sam Brower and Michelle Jorgenson. A fifth candidate in the race, Stuart Bunker, did not collect signatures and was eliminated from the race.

Two other candidates for county office – County Auditor Dan Jessen and County Clerk Jon Whittaker – do not have any in-party challengers and will advance directly to the November general election ballot. Neither addressed the delegates Saturday.

Also during the nearly three-hour convention, representatives of several candidates for statewide office addressed the delegation, asking for support at the Utah State Republican Convention next weekend. The statewide event is scheduled for April 21 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

Addressing the Iron County group for a couple minutes each were Josh Romney, representing his father Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Marlee Meyers, wife of Larry Meyers, also vying for that same U.S. Senate seat. Another would-be candidate in that same crowded race, Mike Kennedy, who is currently a Utah House Representative from District 27, had his colleague, state Rep. John Westwood of District 72, speak on his behalf.

In addition, U.S. House Rep. Chris Stewart, the incumbent for Utah’s second congressional district, also had a speaker in his behalf, as did Mary Burkett, who is challenging Stewart for the GOP nomination.

State Rep. Brad Last, who does not face any GOP challengers in his bid for re-election to Utah House seat 71, also briefly addressed the delegates, thanking them for their support. GOP candidate Rex Shipp, who is running unopposed for the Utah House seat 72 currently occupied by Westwood, also attended the convention.

Once the statewide GOP convention is over, Whittaker said he and his office will begin preparing Iron County’s official 2018 primary ballot. On June 26, registered Republican voters will cast their ballots to narrow their choices to one candidate for each office, with each of the primary winners advancing to November’s general election. Since there are no Democratic or third-party challengers for any of Iron County’s county-level elections this year, the June 26 primary will effectively decide the final winners in those races.

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