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Candidates for Utah commission say growth is biggest issue

PROVO, Utah (AP) — Republican Tanner Ainge and his third-party opponent Teri McCabe both said managing central Utah’s fast growth is at the top of their priority list as they run for the same county commission seat.

Ainge and United Utah candidate McCabe are both hoping to replace Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves, The Daily Herald reported. No Democratic candidate has filed to run for the seat.

The son of former NBA star Danny Ainge said he was encouraged to run after a sexual harassment complaint surfaced against the current commissioner.

“It concerned me, it concerned a lot of people in the business community and in the state Legislature,” Ainge said. “They reached out to me and encouraged me to run. And this time, I was willing to do that.”

Ainge lost a congressional contest last year in a three-way race to replace former Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

McCabe, who is running with the newly-formed moderate party, said she has been working on reaching out to independent and unaffiliated voters, noting that younger voters are not attached to the two-party system.

“There are some Republicans who are probably moderates,” McCabe said. “They hear about me, and they’d rather vote for me.”

If elected, both candidates said addressing Utah County’s growth will be their focus. The county is expected to grow to 1.6 million people by 2050, meaning government leaders need to start planning for its effect on transportation, infrastructure, and resources.

“If we are only going to be raising taxes every 30 years, we might as well do it now, to prepare for the next 30 years,” McCabe said.

Ainge, who has run as a fiscal conservative, said it’s not a conservative principal to continue borrowing from the county’s reserves to continue paying for necessary services. Decreasing property tax rates every year is not a sustainable practice, he said.

“There’s an opportunity to keep tax rates very low, even the lowest, and still make sure we’re protecting ourselves against the rising cost of inflation,” Ainge said.

Ballots for the vote-by-mail election will be sent out next week.