Though many candidates are running unopposed for seats in Cache County’s government, the office of County Executive/Surveyor is one of the few contested positions on the ballot this November. Incumbent David Zook and write-in candidate Marc Ensign are both running for the office.
The Herald Journal sent similar sets of questions to each of the candidates to gauge their thoughts prior to the election.
What are the candidates thoughts on current standings in the election?
Zook said he believes he will win the election and will continue serving in his current position.
“I have confidence that the good people of Cache Valley will send a message that negativity and mudslinging won’t work on them and have no place in our community. Our voters are smart and can discern what is true,” he said. “The sad part about the negativity that has been directed at me in this campaign is that it has a chilling effect on other potential leaders who might have been considering public service. How many of them are now hesitant to serve because they’ve seen how unfairly people have attacked me and my family?”
Ensign also feels confident in his chances of unseating the incumbent.
“I am grateful for those across the valley who are putting their faith in me. For my own determination to be anything less would be a disservice to them,” he said. “Although I was told a write-in campaign is an uphill climb, I believe the voters in Cache Valley will climb that hill with me.”
Will the candidates remain involved in the county if they lose election?
“I have always loved serving my community and I always will,” Zook said. “My service to Cache County started long before my election as County Executive.”
He mentioned how he has served on Hyde Park’s planning commission, the Cache Chamber of Commerce, the Lion’s Club, the Boy Scouts and The Family Place.
“Service has always been part of my DNA,” he said.
Ensign similarly said he has been engaged in serving the county community for decades, and doesn’t intend to alter that course.
“That will never change,” he said. “Whether serving on community boards, working with local non-profits, fulfilling appointments, or offering whatever assistance I can, with whatever means I have, this community I love will always be a priority to me.”
What are the candidates first priorities if elected?
Zook listed several things he believes need to be prioritized in the community: “Public safety, fixing our roads, helping people deal with inflation, dealing with growth, preserving open space, farms, and water, and helping the less fortunate in our community, especially those struggling with mental health.”
He said these have been his priorities for the past two years.
“The people of Cache County need their leaders to work together to tackle these issues,” he said. “I look forward to working side by side with our new county council to address those needs.”
Ensign listed several of the goals he had when he decided to run.
“I’ll restore order, trust, transparency, and cooperation to our County Government immediately, and ensure that our tax dollars are secure,” he said. “Resolving the multimillion-dollar unbalance in the 2022 and 2023 budgets submitted by the current Executive will be paramount.”
Ensign also said he will work to “preserve our agricultural heritage and lifestyle through non-taxation efforts” as the county continues to grow.
“Updating our County’s antiquated zoning ordinances will allow for solutions like down-zoning, the implementation of mitigating ordinances, the greater use of land trusts, the establishment of conservation easements, and the use of accessory dwelling units,” he said.
How do the candidates feel about their community support?
Signs supporting both candidates have made appearances at residential and commercial properties throughout the valley since Ensign launched his campaign on the last day of August.
“Whether due to signs or other factors, I’ve felt a groundswell of support that has been gaining momentum each day,” Ensign said.
He said he’s heard from supporters he had never met.
“People have also been generous with donations, again many coming from individuals I’ve never met. I believe our community wants to see new leadership at the Executive level,” Ensign said.
Zook referred to running for office as a “unique experience.”
“You subject yourself and in this campaign even your wife and kids to criticism, attacks and insults,” he said. “But it’s also an incredible opportunity to be lifted up by so many good friends and supporters. The most heartening part of this has been when people I’ve never even met before have spoken up to defend me and my family, volunteered to put up signs and shared encouraging words.”
What is their message to undecided voters?
Ensign believes he will be able to restore civility in county government.
“Our County Government must be united in the service of its citizens. Today it is divided. We are better than that,” Ensign said. “Trust, transparency, and cooperation can and will be quickly restored with your write-in vote for Marc Ensign.”
Zook said he is a builder working to make a better place for county residents.
“I’m here to help those in need. I’m here to bring people together to serve our community and solve its most pressing problems and save the people in Cache Valley who need to be saved,” Zook said. “I’m here to serve. That’s who I am. That’s who I’ve always been. And that’s who I always will be because I love Cache Valley and I love the people here.”