Tanner Ainge, other Utah County leaders speak out on controversial Prop 9

Top Stories

FILE – This May 26, 2020 file photo shows an Official Democratic General Primary mail-in ballot and secrecy envelope, for the Pennsylvania primary in Pittsburgh. Democrats are launching a digital ad targeting Pennsylvanians voting by mail to explain how to correctly fill out and return the ballots, hoping to avert worried predictions that 100,000 votes or more could be invalidated because the ballots aren’t put in the proper envelope. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah County residents are beginning to get their ballots in the mail to fill out before Nov. 3rd’s general election. Proposition 9 will be a part of Utah County’s ballot and has caused many notable politicians to speak up for or against the controversial propostion.

Tanner Ainge, one of Utah County’s current county commissioners, is a strong advocate for passing Prop 9, saying on his Facebook page, “We needed to consider modifications to our form of government that would help lead to quality candidates, better representation and improved outcomes for our community.”

Bill Lee, another county commissioner of Utah County, is against Prop 9. “It’s a consolidation of power into one person, which is the mayor,” Lee told the Daily Herald. “The mayor has a lot of power. And to me, that’s problematic.”

Utah County residents will vote on Prop 9 on whether or not they are in favor of adopting a Mayor-Council form of county government. Currently, Utah County does not have a county mayor (like Salt Lake County does) but rather has three county commissioners; Bill Lee, Tanner Ainge, and Nathan Ivie.

If Prop 9 passes, Utah County would move to having an elected county executive (the Utah County Mayor), and an elected county council consisting of five members.

In a Facebook Live on a pro-Prop 9 page on Oct. 8, Ainge further expressed his feelings on why he strongly supports Utah County converting to a Mayor-Council form of government.

“Working with a lot of companies, there is a reason why you have a board of directors, and you have a CEO.” said Ainge. “You also need someone who has the energy and is empowered to go and execute on a daily basis–not just operating on a quarterly board meeting. There is just an acknowledgment from anyone who has worked in a business or an organization, you can’t operate on a day to day basis on a committee, you need to have someone in charge.”

“For me, that’s been the most frustrating part of being in the three-member form of commission,” Ainge goes on to say. “Imagine trying to negotiate, we are constantly trying to do the business of the county. If I am meeting with Sheriff (Mike) Smith and he says he wants to do one thing, and I think that is a good idea and we have some alignment, in a Mayor-Council form, you would work with an outside entity or even another department and develop a strategy. Sure, if it is big enough you may have to make sure that is approved by the council but you can at least take it along to a certain step.”

If Prop 9 were to pass, Ainge realizes that he would essentially be voting himself out of office, as there would need to be only one new county executive.

Ainge says the budget would be smaller to have one county mayor and several part-time council members than what the budget presently is with three county commissioners.

While Ainge seems to be the leader in paving the way for Prop 9 in Utah County, 20 of the 22 city mayors in the county have jointly authored and signed a statement in favor of Prop 9 as well.

The mayors’ statement outlines several things they believe Prop 9 would or would not do if passed such as:

  • Create greater accountability within government
  • Create regional representation
  • Does not raise taxes
  • Does not grow the size of government
  • Does not give unchecked powers to the county mayor
  • Will not make Utah County like Salt Lake County
  • Provides better governance
  • Provides an opportunity for new voices

While it seems Prop 9 may be easily passed, simply with the amount of support from the numerous city mayors within Utah County, there are plenty of notable politicians and residents who are against passing Prop 9.

On NoToPropNine.com, it shows that current Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, former Utah County Commissioner Jerry Grover, former Utah County Commissioner Steve White, and Utah County Commissioner candidate Tom Sakievich are all against Prop 9.

On Sakievich’s website, he says he is against Prop 9 because “Creating political districts within Utah County also creates separate cultures. Segregated communities tend to have unintended issues. A mayoral, council form tends to develop an unresponsive, centralized power in government.”

On the no to Prop 9 website, there is a letter that Lee, Grover, White and Sakievich issued to help Utah County residents understand why they urge people to vote no to Prop 9 come Nov. 3.

“Make no mistake: Voting in favor of Proposition 9 will lead to an expansion of government and
an increase in your taxes over time,” the letter says. “Twenty years ago, Salt Lake County switched to the mayor-council form of government, and the result has been more bureaucracy, bloated salaries for county officials, “celebrity mayors” seeking higher office, and continual tax increases.”

The letter goes on to say that Prop 9 is not about improving government, it is expanding government and putting it on the backs of Utah County taxpayers.

The letter also claims that no financial analysis has been conducted on the possible affects of Prop 9 and that proponents of it are “relying on the bogus math of the same two county commissioners who recently proposed a doubling of Utah County’s property tax”.

“We know one thing for sure by looking at Salt Lake County: expanding the county government
will result in more government and more taxes. “WE BELIEVE UTAH COUNTY RESIDENTS ARE
TAXED ENOUGH,” the No to Prop 9 letter states.

For more information on both sides of the issue, you can visit BetterUtahCounty.com and NoToProp9.com.

Click here to download the ABC4 Utah News app for the first alerts on your phone. Sign up for the ABC4 Utah breaking news and daily newsletters.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah VP Debate

More Utah Debate