The Cache County Republican Party has cancelled a special election for the recently vacated Cache County attorney position due to a lack of applicants.
According to a statement from Cache GOP Chair Chris Booth, under Republican Party Bylaws and Utah State code, the party was responsible for nominating three candidates to the Cache County Council. However, the special election in this instance is unnecessary.
“Since only three individuals filed,” Booth wrote in the statement, “there is no need to hold a special election.”
The three candidates — Cache County deputy attorneys Dane Murray, Jacob Gordon and John Luthy — were submitted to the County Council on Monday, according to the statement.
“We wish the best to each of the three candidates,” Booth wrote.
Cache County Council Chair Gina Worthen and Booth both said they were surprised only three individuals filed for the position.
“I am really surprised, and I was surprised that they all came out of our county attorney’s office.” Worthen said. “I expected to get some from the community.”
Booth said the application window was open for a standard nine days, from July 7 through July 16.
“I know that there were a couple more that had expressed some interest, at least that I heard,” Booth said. “But they did not end up filing, so I was surprised that we only ended up with three individuals who filed.”
Booth added that he was grateful for former County Attorney James Swink’s 12-year tenure in office, his help with the county GOP, and appreciated his comments on limited terms for public officials. Booth said he looked forward to working with whomever was selected out of the “three good candidates.”
“We’ve done our part, the county party’s done their part, and now it’s in the hands of the County Council,” Booth said.
Despite the scrapping of the special election, which had been set for Aug. 4 at Sky View High School, Worthen said the timeframe for appointing a new county attorney will not be changed. As it stands currently, Worthen said a new county attorney will likely be chosen on Aug. 10 to allow time for County Council members to learn more about the candidates.
“I felt like doing this next week, on the 27th, would just be too quick,” Worthen said. “It would be better to give some time for some thought.”
According to Worthen, a special public meeting is set for 5 p.m. Aug. 3 to interview the candidates. She anticipated the meeting would include opening and closing statements from each candidate, and would also be streamed live on the county’s YouTube channel.
“I anticipate also, after the selection, swearing in the choice that day as well,” Worthen said, “so they can jump right in and get going.”
In other vacancies, Worthen said the party’s central committee chooses an applicant to be affirmed by the County Council. Worthen said the county attorney position uniquely requires the central committee to pick three candidates and the County Council is allowed to appoint someone to serve in the interim.
“That’s what’s so unusual,” Worthen said, explaining the statute is different for appointing a county attorney. “And that’s why this is the way it is, and that’s why the central committee isn’t choosing a person — it’s required by state law to send three names.”
Worthen said all the County Council members are part of the party’s central committee that would have been involved in the vetting process had there been more applicants. With an estimated 320 central committee members and two special elections in under a year, Booth said there have been some sighs of relief over the special election’s cancellation.
“The members of the central committee and delegates have kind of been put through a wringer these last couple of years,” Booth said, in part due to cancelled caucuses as a result of COVID-19, irregular turnover rates and special elections. “But, you know, that’s part of our gig — it’s part of what we signed up to do.”
Worthen said people have been reaching out to council members with their input regarding who should be appointed as county attorney. Those interested in sharing their opinions, Worthen said, can reach out to the County Council.