Thursday, October 20, 2016


It's almost over. Don't worry. Just a few weeks left.

This election cycle has been a nightmare on all fronts, and we're probably all ready to just be done with it and move on. But before we can do that, it's time to actually vote.

There's one little problem with that though: No one knows who any of these people are.

We've been bombarded with so many stories regarding the two presidential candidates, that pretty much every single other race has been deemed irrelevant. I've seen a lot of people online asking who's on their ballot, what they stand for, and if any of the candidates are actually deserving of a vote.

That's where I come in!

Listen, change in government doesn't start from the top down. It just can't. Obama (I think it was Obama, anyway) described the government as a giant boat that can't turn on a dime, and takes a lot of people to actually move it in the correct direction. That starts with the politicians running for office in your hometown. Real change has to start at the local level, which is why local politics and local elections are sometimes FAR more important than national ones.

I'm going to break down each local election and give you some facts (and a few opinions) about each candidate. It won't be as heavily researched as we'd all like because I have other things going on in my life, but it's at least a start. A lot of this is just me collecting my thoughts as I go through the nominees, it's not going to be the same for everyone.

A couple of things here:
1) This is only for elections in Utah and Salt Lake City. I live here. I have no idea what's going on in Provo. That's on you. All the categories and candidates below are the ones that appear on my ballot. I live in downtown Salt Lake City, so these should apply to most of the people reading this. All 15 of you, if I'm being optimistic.

2) I probably disagree with 95% of Republicans, and that's a generous number. While I'm not registered as such, I lean very heavily Democrat, so some of these things may be a bit (read: heavily) biased—especially when it comes to things like the NRA (fuck those guys), Women's Rights (Planned Parenthood all the way), LGBTQ Equality (common sense, and if you're not on board, leave now), #BlackLivesMatter (10,000x yes, if you have a different opinion, go somewhere else), etc.

3) If you don't like that last part, start your own blog. It's not hard. Or just go do your own research. You don't need to read this.

That said, I provided a ton of links to candidates pages, articles, and other sites with information and I do encourage you to do your own research (I've seen a few people complaining that the personal commentary on my blog contains too many of my own opinions. No really. That's been a thing.) and come to your own conclusions. But if you want to cheat off my homework here instead, I'm all for that, since it means more votes against the GOP.

4) R - Republican
    D - Democrat
    LIB - Libertarian
    IAP - Independent American Party
    CON - Constitution Party

5) Edited to add: Before you continue, read numbers 2 and 3 again.


Listen, you know who you're voting for here. Nothing I say will change your decision. If you still haven't made up your mind this late in the game though, just please don't vote for the guy running a white nationalist campaign, who was endorsed by the KKK's official newspaper.

Moving on.

Gary Herbert - (R)
Mike Weinholtz - (D)
"Super" Dell Schanze (IAP)
Brian Kamerath - (LIB)

Utah hasn't had a Democrat as a Governor since 1985. The closest we got was Jon Huntsman a few years ago. Huntsman actually started to undo some of the dumb laws Republicans had put in place, but he left for a job in the Obama administration, Gary Herbert took over and immediately started undoing any progress Huntsman made.

The Gist

Herbert: He is the epitome of Utah politicians, which should tell you just about everything you need to know, because you either like them or you don't. Herbert is very staunchly LDS and tries to push laws through that reflect his faith. He's a HUGE fan of the Zion curtain, which states that restaurants have to have a divider so children can't see alcohol being poured. The new Eccles Center Theatre has to install a ceiling over the bar, because you can see down from the top floor and witness evil alcohol being poured into a glass. Listen, I'm still way straight edge and even I think the alcohol laws in Utah are some of the dumbest ideas ever committed to paper. Herbert also hates LGBTQ progress. Every time something happens that gives gay people a hint of equality, he throws a tantrum and tries to stop it from happening. He's a rich, old, Mormon guy who only wants to make things better for his friends and family. If you're not part of the church or his immediate family, he doesn't care about you. At all.

The only bright spot in Herbert's administration is Spencer J. Cox, who is also way Mormon, but at least he seems like he might be able to pretend to respect someone that isn't of the same faith. The problem is that he's not in charge and never actually will be.

Weinholtz: This is my guy. I just like everything he stands for. He wants to boost education starting with K-12 pupil funding (in which Utah is dead last), he supports women's right to choose, he's pro-legalizing marijuana (and again, even though I'm way sXe, this is a no-brainer), and he wants to do something about the air quality in Utah (something that Herbert just continues to pretend isn't a real problem). He's just a sensible guy who seems like he actually cares about bettering Utah for the all the people that live here, instead of those that live here and belong to a church.

Schanze: Nah. This guy is nuts.

Kamerath: Listen, I like the general idea of the Libertarian party, but most of the politicians running under the Libertarian banner are just failed Republicans trying to impose their beliefs in a new party. Kamerath doesn't sound quite like that, but for all his talk about letting people live their lives without interference, his site doesn't mention anything about women's rights or LGBTQ equality, and has even avoided a few questions about these topics.

Verdict: I'm with Mike all the way. I like the cut of this guy's jib. I don't think he stands much of a chance, but a guy can hope.

Charlene Albarran - (D)
Chris Stewart - (R) (incumbent)
Paul J. McCollaum Jr. - (Con)

Chris Stewart was elected to this position in 2012, and he's been pretty quiet for most of the time—especially when you consider the other state reps are Jason Chaffetz, Mia Love, and Bob Bishop. He's up for re-election against a newcomer to politics, Democrat Charlene Albarran (and also Paul J. McCollaum Jr., who represents the Constitution party, so I won't even waste space on that one)

The Tribune did a nice breakdown of their debate earlier in October here.

The Gist

Stewart: His slogan is "Honor, duty, service to God, family and country" which should tell you right away that he leans heavily on his faith when making decisions. He opposes all gun regulations (received a $6,000 contribution from the NRA), relies on the "I have daughters" trope when asked about violence towards women, but apparently voted against a national bill on that topic because he feels it needs to be done at the state level (where he's done nothing about it). Believes climate change is real, but doesn't believe scientists when they say how real. He's typically Republican on the subject of immigration. Referred to Donald Trump as a "modern-day Mussolini" then promptly endorsed him. Rolled with him all the way until he made the "grab them by the pussy" comment, then called for him to drop out. Hasn't said who he supports since, so it's probably still Trump.

Albarran: Born in Idaho, owns a million dollar home in Park City, lives in an apartment in SLC so she could run for office. Opposes abortion, but admits it's a moral choice. Says nothing more. Supports gun rights, but wants regulations. Wants immigration reform, citing it hasn't been updated since the 80's. Believes in climate change and wants to push for clean air.

Verdict: Albarran sounds a little bit like a Republican that leans a little too Democrat for Utah, so she's just pretending to be one. Her campaign also sends me texts asking for her vote every once in a while. I have no idea how they got my number, but I don't get many texts these days, so it's nice to be noticed. I'll probably vote for her because she sounds a little more rational, and doesn't mention God on her website, whereas it's front and center in Stewart's slogan.

Misty Snow - (D)
Mike Lee - (R) (incumbent)
Bill Barron - (unaffiliated)
Stoney Fonua - (IAP)

Lee was elected to office in 2011, and like most senators, hasn't had much competition since then.

The Gist

Mike Lee: Lee doesn't think that LGBTQ people are "subject to widespread discrimination" and according to Q Salt Lake, "is also a cosponsor of legislation that would allow child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care providers, to make placement determinations based on the organization’s 'religious beliefs or moral convictions' regardless of the needs of the child." He's very much pro-life and can only think about women in the context of them being his mother, wife, sister, or daughter—but not as an individual. He made that abundantly clear when he dressed down Trump in a cute little video urging him to step aside. His best friend is spineless, groveling hack Ted Cruz who came crawling back to shill for Trump right after he heard that Lee would be on Trump's shortlist for SCOTUS (side note, if you've read this entire paragraph, you can see that Lee would be horrible for this position). His website is surprisingly light on things he actually stands for, and it's very hard to pin him down on any particular issue. In other words, he's a typical Utah Republican politician.

Misty Snow: The biggest thing she has going for her is that she's NOT Mike Lee. She's brand new to politics, having only worked at a grocery store for most of her adult life, but that's a good thing. She hasn't become blinded by special interest groups or jaded by the government process yet. Much like Mike Weinholtz, she's for a lot of things that scare the majority of Utah natives, but are just common sense to everyone else. She and Lee had a pleasant debate, and she probably has no chance, but it's a start.

Barron: He's running a single-issue campaign focused solely on bringing attention to climate change, which is admirable. Unfortunately, the majority of Utah doesn't believe in climate change. The more attention to this subject the better, because it needs to be addressed and I encourage everyone to read his website and spread the information around.

Fonua: This feels more like a statement campaign than anything. He's running as a Peacemaker candidate, and he's WAY into God and isn't as skilled at avoiding questions as other politicians.

Verdict: I'm with Misty Snow even if it's a long shot. Anything to help start showing people that there's an option that isn't an old white Mormon guy.

State Attorney General 
Sean D. Reyes - (R) (incumbent)
Michael W. Isbell - (IAP)
Jon V. Harper - (D)
W. Andrew McCullough - (LIB)

Let's get right to the biggest question: What does an Attorney General do? I'll let the people at Ballotpedia (where I got a lot of great information for this) fill you in.

"As the chief legal officer of the states, commonwealths and territories of the United States, the attorneys general serve as counselors to their legislatures and state agencies and also as the 'People's Lawyer' for all citizens.

While varying from one jurisdiction to the next due to statutory and constitutional mandates, typical powers of the attorneys general include the authority to issue formal opinions to state agencies; act as public advocates in areas such as child support enforcement, consumer protections, antitrust and utility regulation; propose legislation; enforce federal and state environmental laws; represent the state and state agencies before the state and federal courts; handle criminal appeals and serious statewide criminal prosecutions; institute civil suits on behalf of the state; represent the public's interests in charitable trust and solicitations; and operate victim compensation programs."

Ideally, since this is a position based on law and being an actual attorney, political affiliation shouldn't matter. On the other hand, this is Utah.

Reyes: He was appointed by Governor Herbert after the resignation of previous AG John Swallow (who was then arrested along with his predecessor Mark Shurtleff, both on corruption charges). This kind of tells me that the AG office is a mess and just needs some fresh, non-Republican blood. Reyes, by all accounts is a nice guy, but I don't trust anyone appointed by Herbert.

Harper: Apparently, Harper has withdrawn from the race citing "health issues." It was too late to remove him from the ballot, so he's hoping that everyone still votes for him, because if he wins the Democratic party will be able to choose his replacement.

Isbell: He's running as an Independent American, and he's a big fan of Facebook memes, which is not something I'm impressed by in a person, much less a political candidate.

McCullough: I stand by what I said about Libertarians above, but this guys seems to have some common sense, and I feel like Libertarian views aren't as prominent in practicing law. I could be wrong though.

Verdict: Well shit, I guess McCullough? The Utah AG office has been full of corruption for going on 15 years with Shurtleff and Swallow in charge, and I feel that Reyes is just an extension of them. Harper dropping out is troublesome because I don't trust the Democrats to do just pick someone after they win. I don't trust a guy whose Facebook is littered with shitty memes, either. This is a hard one. If you know any good lawyers that should run in a few years, tell them to start prepping.

State Auditor
John Dougall - (R) (incumbent)
Mike Mitchell - (D)
Jaren Green - (IAP)

Again, from Ballotpedia: "The Utah State Auditor is an elected position in the Utah state government. The auditor is the chief watchdog for the state, providing independent audits of Utah's state and local governments. The auditor operates independently of any executive or administrative officers of the state. The position of state auditor is mandated in the Utah constitution and has existed continuously since the state was founded in 1896."

Verdict: Honestly, I can't find a lot to say about this race. I feel like an auditor should be pretty bipartisan, and none of these candidates have more than a Facebook that never gets used. One thing I will say is that Utah hasn't had a non-Republican auditor since like 1969, which is par for the course in Utah, so it's time for a change. I'll probably vote for Mitchell, since the IAP is super into the NRA.

State Treasurer
David Damschen - (R) (incumbent)
Neil Hansen - (D)
Richard Proctor - (Con)

Also from Ballotpedia: "The Treasurer of Utah is an elected executive position in the Utah state government. The treasurer is the state's chief financial officer, responsible for the management of taxpayer dollars. As the custodian of public money and the central bank for state agencies, the treasurer oversees the collection, safeguarding, investment and disbursement of state funds."

Verdict: Much like the office of Auditor, I'm kind of at a loss for this one. Damschen, who currently holds the office, was appointed by Governor Herbert, which is a strike against him (for me, anyway). No Democrat has held this office since 1981, which isn't surprising. The Constitution Party was founded by Republicans and mentions scriptures a lot in their descriptions, so they lost me almost immediately. Hansen is my guy here.

County Mayor
Ben McAdams - (D) (incumbent)
Dave Robinson - (R)

Verdict: McAdams has been fine. Pretty low profile for his entire tenure so far. I'll go with him, since I'm of the mind that the fewer Republicans in charge in Utah, the better.

County Council At-Large B
Catherine Kanter - (D)
Richard Snelgrove - (R) (Incumbent)

Verdict: Much like every other race that has a Republican incumbent, I'm inclined to go with literally anyone else. Since he's already in office, Snelgrove doesn't maintain much web presence beyond his official government page. Kanter has a pretty good listing of what she's for and I agree with a lot of it.

Board of Education District 7 
Carol Barlow-Lear
Shelly Teuscher

Verdict: In what should be a pretty straight-forward nonpartisan race, I'm leaning towards Carol Lear. Mostly because her website was working when I wrote this, so I was actually able to see what she stands for. Teuscher's wouldn't load and her Facebook profile was pretty barren of information.

This is the category that always gets me when I'm in the voting booth. I'm always inclined to vote that they shouldn't be retained, just because there are too many judges that are just terrible, and they get worse the longer they serve. Some of them are good, but having never had to stand in front of one, I don't have any first-hand experience. You can read a bio of all of them on the Utah Courts website (here, here, and here) but it's really difficult to find information on any of their rulings unless it's a high-profile case. You can, however, consult the Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission Guide to find out a little bit more. I did some cursory internet searching to see what I could find. Again, as we get to this part, remember, this is a personal blog, so if you don't agree with me, do your own research and come to your own conclusions about these people.

Paul Boyd Parker - Registered as a Republican, so there's that. He's one of only two judges whose party affiliation popped up immediately when I Googled their name. He was a Vernal police officer from 1978 - 1985, and he was appointed by Governor Herbert in 2013.

Kimberly Kay Hornak - She's been on the bench since 1994 when Mike Leavitt appointed her.

Randall N. Skanchy - Specializes in Civil and Environmental law. Went to Weber St. and BYU. He handles drug possession and trafficking cases.

James T. Blanch - Appointed in 2012 by Governor Herbert. He sentenced a guy to the maximum term, then suspended it in favor of probation, because his sons were running a drug lab in their home, for making "dabs" which, I guess means extracting cannabis from weed. Kids these days.

Mark S. Kouris - He used to be a bigwig at Proctor & Gamble, (which as a guy that's been vegan for nearly 20 years, means he's one of the bad guys). After that, he worked as the assistant DA where he prosecuted gang felonies (I have no proof, but this was probably around the time everyone in Salt Lake thought being straight edge should be classified as gang activity, which was and still is, dumb). Last year, there was a lawsuit filed against him for bias and abuse of office.

Renee M. Jimenez - She was appointed in 2013 to the Juvenile Court by Gov. Herbert.

Robert P. Faust - He's basically been a lifelong lawyer and was appointed in 2007 by Jon Huntsman.

Vernice S. Trease - She's been a lifelong lawyer, appointed by Jon Huntsman in 2006. She worked as a lawyer for Salt Lake County before that.

Su J Chon - The Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee of Utah voted 7 - 2 against retaining Judge Su in the election, according to Fox 13 News, so there's that. She's the only one that didn't get a perfect 12 - 0 in favor of retainment.

James R. Michie Jr. - He was appointed to the Juvenile Courts in 2006 by Jon Huntsman.

Mark W. May - Presiding judge of the Juvenile Court appointed by Huntsman in 2007. He's been dealing with juvenile cases most of his professional life.

Bruce C. Lubeck - Lubeck has been on the bench since 2001, before that he had been the assistant U.S. Attorney since 1981, and a public defender before that even. Lots of experience there.

Barry G. Lawrence - Graduated with a degree in Biology from Cornell (Andy Bernard does an awkward fist-pump), so he's rooted in science, which is good. He moved to Utah and worked as a lawyer for 12 years before joining Mark Shurtleff's Attorney General office. Remember, Shurtleff and his successor were both arrested for corruption. This doesn't mean Lubeck was involved, but he was there.

John L. Baxter - Baxter has been on the bench since 2002. He presides over the Veteran's and Homeless Courts, and before that he volunteered as a lawyer for the homeless. He's a certified Tat Daddy, and was featured in this City Weekly cover story from a few years ago.

Clinton E. Balmforth - He's been practicing law since 1968, and is an instructor for Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Jeanne M. Robison - She's been on the bench since 2005, and worked as an assistant city prosecutor for 10 years before that. Nothing of note pops up when you type her name into Google.

Shauna Graves-Robertson - One of the few people of color—and definitely the only African-American—I've seen out of everyone on the ballot. Graduated from Arizona State University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, and been serving since 1999, and is currently the presiding judge in Salt Lake County. The only notable thing I saw during a Google search is that she sentenced a rancher to a small fine and service for negligence, after 10 of his horses died of malnourishment. The rancher had hired someone to care for them, the same person he'd hired many times over several years, and they died in his care. I'm way into vegan power and this is probably the correct decision.

L.G. Cutler - Served since 2004, and before that, specialized in providing legal representation to indigent children, parents, and families in juvenile court, and is also well versed in domestic law. His name pops up as the ruling judge in a lot of cases that warranted news coverage earlier in the decade.

Scott J. Mickelsen - Been serving since 2012, and before that he spent 36 years as a Sheriff's Deputy, and is a graduate of the FBI Academy. He's registered as a Republican, and his wife, Enid Greene Mickelsen (formerly Waldholtz), has a long history in Utah politics and was recently appointed by RNC Chair Reince Priebus as chair of the 2016 Republican Convention Rules Committee. So he's half of a pretty prominent Republican power couple. Also, there's the cop thing. That's the one that worries me the most.

Sydney Magid - She was appointed in 2004. She earned a degree in mass communications before attending law school. She currently serves on the Justice Court Judges Education Curriculum Subcommittee. She's mentioned in this City Weekly story about judges being dicks to people.

Constitutional Amendments

I'm just going to give you the link to our friends over at Ballotpedia again for these, because I can't believe that we have to spend time on a couple of these. You can find more info on what will be on other ballots in this KSL story, too.

Constitutional Amendment A

Constitutional Amendment B

Constitutional Amendment C

A Few Notes...

He's not on my ballot, but if Jason Christensen is on your ballot, don't vote for that guy. He's the one that went on Facebook and mocked a gay teenager for killing himself. Don't ever let that guy forget that he's a piece of shit. Read more about that if you want to.

Greg Hughes, the Utah Speaker of the House, is up for re-election this year, too. He's been pro-Trump since the beginning and still rides with him, even after he's revealed himself to be the garbage human we all knew he was. I guess sexual assault and "grabbing them by the pussies" lines up with Hughes' good Mormon values. Vote against him if you can.

And with that, I think we're done! I spent a lot of time reading about old, white, Mormons for you, so the least you can do is vote. Get to it.