FARMINGTON — Lorene Kamalu, first-term Davis County commissioner, has a high-profile challenger in her first re-election bid for Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd. The two face off in the June 28 Republican primary after splitting the delegate vote at the county’s GOP convention in March.
Shepherd won 50.42% to Kamalu’s 49.58%, meaning a primary election is needed. No other party is fielding candidates, so the winner of the GOP primary will be unopposed in November.
Kamalu said she succeeded on the commission by working hard to bring people together and improving public health and safety initiatives. “It takes a lot of people,” she says. “I am a unifier. I am proud of this reputation for responsiveness.
It’s especially helpful, she said, because the county doesn’t provide many direct services — but it does work with major partners, such as Davis Behavioral Health and the Safe Harbor Crisis Center.
She said the commission and other county officials deserve credit for maintaining the county’s status as having one of the lowest government costs in Utah.
Managing the county’s fiscal situation and protecting public health and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic were listed by Kamalu as successes during his tenure.
Kamalu, when asked about Shepherd’s candidacy, said, “I didn’t really expect to be unopposed. I was surprised when he chose to run against me, but I don’t take it personally. I stay focused on my own campaign and work for Davis County.
Shepherd said he had promised voters in Clearfield that this would be his last term, he is in his third term, so he is eagerly awaiting a chance at the B seat of the Commission.
“Lorene and I are good friends and I respect her,” Shepherd said. “But I think we need commissioners who understand things better from a city and local government perspective. The county is doing a good job working with communities on a monthly basis, but I think we can do better.
He remains grieved over the county’s transfer of paramedic services from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office to city fire departments and local fire districts. The move seemed good for the county, but cities need to raise taxes to support the service, he said.
Shepherd said he wants the county to put the move on hold until a “revenue neutral” transition is found.
He also thinks the county should “at least discuss” adopting a different form of government, one that doesn’t depend on “three people with their offices side by side.”
Shepherd noted that Tooele County has a five-person commission whose members are part-time, with a full-time county manager. Such a form would expand representation while reducing county expenses, he said, but added that there are other forms to consider as well.
He would not advocate a form of government like that of Salt Lake County, with a full-time mayor and full-time commissioners.
Shepherd said there was “no point” in studying another form of government when he spoke about it during the GOP convention process. “We owe it to voters to at least watch this,” Shepherd said.