Sunderland pretty much seals deal on county commissioner seat
By James Tilson
MANTI—It’s just the end of the primary election, but the vacant seat for Sanpete County Commissioner has probably been filled.
Edwin Sunderland won the Republican Party nomination for the open County Commission seat being vacated by Claudia Jarrett at the end of her term in December. Sunderland won the nomination over Justin Atkinson by approximately 55 to 45 percent of the vote.
Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill explained the total vote count will not be released until Tuesday after the County Commission officially canvases the results, which will be press time. Neill stated there were a little less than 100 absentee and provisional votes yet to be tallied, and nearly 70 votes that will not be counted for technical reasons. However, none of those votes will change the election results.
Ed Sunderland said he “feels really fortunate” to have won the election. He called Justin Atkinson a “really good competitor” “I really want to thank everyone that voted for me,” he said. “In the future, I want everyone to know that I have an open door whenever anyone needs to talk to me.”
When asked about the issues he wanted to concentrate on while in office, Sunderland said it would be “hard to know exactly what he wanted to do until he got his feet wet.” However, he does have a few issues on his mind already. Sunderland wants to look into the county building ordinances, especially the requirement for no less than five acre lots. He said “five acre lots lead to a lot of weed patches for the people that don’t have the proper equipment.”
Sunderland also mentioned a number of people have asked him about dust on the roads, with this being such a dry summer.
But the most important issue for Sunderland would be to examine the county’s tax structure. “I’m really conservative when it comes to taxes.” He said he wanted to know where the money goes.
Atkinson wished Sunderland the best as the Republican nominee for commissioner. “I love Sanpete County, and I wish the best for Edwin.”
Atkinson said he knew that he faced an “uphill battle” because of his position on SB 54 and petition signatures. However, he is still happy how he ran his campaign. He pointed out that his percentages went up through the primaries, and he felt gathering signatures was “the right thing to do.” “I wanted to give a voice back to the people,” he said.
When asked if he would consider running for higher office again, Atkinson said he would consider it “if the opportunity presented itself.” He explained that he did not run for commission as part of a strategy of gaining a higher office, but did acknowledge it seems to be a pattern where an office holder will build experience going from local office to county and then state offices.
Sunderland will have no Democratic opponent, or any other independent opponent for that matter, in the November general election. However, any potential write-in opponent has until Sept. 7 to register.
As of time of press, Sanpete County has 12, 631 registered voters. Of those, 8,060, or 63.8 percent, are Republican. There are 661, or 5 percent, that are Democrat. And there are 3,492 unaffiliated voters which make up 27.6 percent of Sanpete voters. That leaves 418 voters affiliated with ten other different political affiliations (including “other”).