What is – and what is not – the business of the district?

Incumbent Steve DeBry points to a list of achievements; Challenger Sheldon Stewart wants the county to get out of land use issues.

Salt Lake County Council member Steve DeBry, left, and Riverton City Council member Sheldon Stewart, two lead Republican candidates for District 5 on the Salt Lake County Council.

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A longtime Salt Lake County councilor is asking Republican voters to hire him for a fourth term this month in what will be the only council race likely to be decided by a primary.

District 5 councilman Steve DeBry, who represents the southwest portion of the district, said he’s delivered for his constituents in his three terms and has more work to do.

“I like to serve,” he says. “It is an honor to serve. It is a privilege to serve. I think I’ve achieved a lot and I just want to achieve more.”

The primary is on June 28, but Republican voters can cast their ballots in advance. The district secretary will begin mailing ballots this week. No Democratic or third-party candidate has run for the fall seat, though a hopeful one may emerge.

DeBry, who patrols the Unified Police Department’s Millcreek Precinct, attempts to fend off Riverton City Councilman Sheldon Stewart, who died on May 9. DeBry qualified for elementary school through the signature collection process.

The District 5 incumbent has a string of accomplishments to his name, including scheduling a vote to repeal the first statewide mask mandate, passing a budget last year as council chair that included no tax increases, and working with communities in his district to bring one Study that deals with land use, economic development, transportation and infrastructure in the southwestern part of the county.

If re-elected, DeBry has a number of things he would like to do, such as allocating funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal pandemic relief package passed by Congress last year.

Stewart, who works as a bank manager in southern Jordan, said the southwestern part of the county is not well represented and in his role as a Riverton City Council member he has improved communication and brought more attention to the area he represents.

If elected to county council, he wants the county to get out of the land use business.

“The county currently participates in land use,” he said, “and they don’t have a mechanism, particularly on residential development, to collect impact fees.”

Stewart also wants more transparency with the county budget and said his strong financial background will help him reduce spending. He said he believes the government should get smaller, not bigger.

“The government should find ways to get out of our lives,” he said, “rather than invade our lives.”

Stewart advocates moving control to the local level, claiming that in his experience, the way the county works to get money is inefficient and needs to change. In order to enable more dialogue and cooperation, he wants to align the council with strategic priorities.

Not being a full-time government employee sets him apart from DeBry, he said.

He was critical of DeBry’s service on the council while also working for a department funded by the county. There is a conflict of interest, he said, when a district funds an organization that employs one of its elected officials.

“I don’t think a person should be in a position like that,” Stewart said, “where they can do that.”

All misinformation, DeBry countered.

“My position and the people I have in Millcreek City come solely from the Millcreek City public treasury,” DeBry said. “Has nothing to do with County General Fund money at all. Zero.”

But if conflict ever arises over a decision, Council members withdraw from the discussion and abstain from voting. He said he never took part in a vote to add money to the state-funded portion of the Unified Police Department’s budget.

DeBry plans to retire from his four-decade career as a law enforcement officer by the end of the year, a decision he made years ago. What is – and what is not – the business of the district?

Joel McCord

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