Candidate overview for primary election races

Autumn F. Cook | Lehi Free Press

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Voting for this year’s primary election is underway. Ballots for the primary election were mailed to Lehi voters last week and must be postmarked or returned by Monday, June 25. Those who prefer to vote in person can vote at one of four Early Voting Service Centers during the week before Election Day, or at a Primary Election Service Center on Election Day.

Early Voting Service Centers will be open June 19-21 from noon to 7 p.m., and on June 22 from noon to 5 p.m. Locations closest to Lehi residents are the Utah Community Credit Union (UCCU) at 3333 N Digital Dr. in Lehi, and Highland City Hall, 5400 W Civic Center Dr., Highland.

On Election Day polls will be open at Lehi City Hall as well as the UCCU location, and at 22 other locations across the county. Voters may vote at any service center in the county. To find the location most convenient for you, visit the Utah County Clerk’s website at www.utahcounty.gov/Dept/clerkaud/Elections/Absentee.asp.

While all Lehi voters will receive a ballot for the nonpartisan Utah State School Board race, Lehi voters who affiliate as Republicans will weigh in on four additional races: United States House of Representatives, Utah County Commission, Utah County Attorney and Utah County Sheriff. There are no primary races for parties other than the Republican Party.

Here’s a quick run-down on the candidates.

State School Board – Non-partisan

Kami Alvarez – www.kamialvarez.com

Alvarez brings experience as a teacher, instructional coach, administrator, consultant, director and mother. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Teaching, a Masters of School Administration, and will soon begin a doctorate course in Educational Leadership and Foundations. She has worked in a wide variety of public school settings and advocates for increased use of technology in schools, including 1:1 programs in which each student is assigned their own device. She supports Our Schools Now.

Cindy Davis – cindydavisforschoolboard.com

An Education Adjunct Professor and Field Director at Utah Valley University, Davis brings experience as a teacher, department chair and school principal at elementary, middle and high schools in Alpine School District. She holds a bachelor’s degree from BYU and a Masters of Education Leadership and Policy from the U of U. Her top priorities include finding solutions to funding problems and changing the tone of conversation between policy makers and educators.

Joylin Lincoln – joylin.thelincolnshome.com

A sixth grade science teacher at Lakeview Academy in Saratoga Springs, Lincoln has extensive experience in the public and charter school systems both as a teacher and a parent volunteer. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and has served on education task forces and committees at the state level. She advocates for support of both traditional and charter schools and supporting parents’ decisions for their children’s education.

Avalie Muhlestein – www.voteavalie.com

Born and raised in Minnesota and Oregon, Muhlestein worked in schools in Oregon and Hawaii. She holds a B.A. in English from BYU and an M.A. in Education from Pacific University. A resident of Utah County for the past 12 years, she has volunteered and advocated in multiple areas across the spectrum of education: public, private, charter, and homeschool. Her main focus is on making decisions at the State Board level which move power back to local communities and families. 

United States Senate – Republican

Mike Kennedy – www.kennedyforutah.com

Kennedy brings an unusual combination of life experience to his candidacy. He is a practicing family doctor, a lawyer, and an Eagle Scout, and he and his wife are the parents of eight children.  Kennedy grew up in a single-parent home then worked his way through college at BYU, earned his medical degree from Michigan State University, and completed a law degree part-time at BYU while working full-time as a doctor. He gained his spot on the ballot through the caucus-convention, declining to gather signatures. As a representative in the Utah House for the past six years, he has been known for conservative, free-market policy positions. His experience as a doctor has made him especially focused on rolling back the government mandates of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, along with other regulation.

Mitt Romney – www.romneyforutah.com

A household name across the nation after running for President of the United States in 2012, Romney served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007 and president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Prior to his public service, he worked in financial investment and management consulting. He holds a bachelor’s degree from BYU, and both a JD and an MBA from Harvard University. He gathered signatures to get on the ballot. He and his wife are the parents of five sons. As governor of Massachusetts, he gained the reputation of a political moderate, sometimes drawing approval from conservatives and sometimes from progressives. His campaign message in Utah has been centered on being a “fiscal hawk” and reducing the federal deficit. 

United States House of Representatives Third District – Republican

John Curtis – johncurtis.org

Elected last August to fill the seat formerly held by Jason Chaffetz, John Curtis formerly served as mayor of Provo. Although he once served as Chairman of the Utah County Democrat Party, his message on the campaign trail resonated with those who voted in the special election, earning him 40.5% of the vote in a three-way race. Before becoming mayor he worked as COO of Action Target, a shooting range design and installation business. Curtis gathered signatures to get on the ballot. He and his wife are the parents of six children. Among his focus issues are reducing government spending, protecting the second amendment, and reducing red tape hampering small businesses.

Chris Herrod – www.herrodforcongress.com

A former Utah State Representative, Herrod has taught at Kharkov National University in Ukraine and as an adjunct faculty member at UVU. He has also worked in real estate development and the mortgage industry. He attended BYU on a Presidential Scholarship, earning degrees in International Relations and Family Living, and later earned a Master’s Degree in Organizational Behavior from the Marriott School of Management. He did not gather signatures. He and his wife, a native of Ukraine, are the parents of five children. Informed by his wife’s experiences in Cold War-era Ukraine, his policy focus is on preservation of core Constitutional principles.

Utah County Commission – Republican

Tanner Ainge – www.tannerainge.org

Ainge is a newcomer to the area, having just moved here in November of 2016. Last year he ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat, using the signature-gathering path to get on the ballot. He is an attorney and business advisor who runs his own firm, after previously spending some time in private equity and law. He holds a B.A. in International Studies from BYU and J.D. from Northwestern. He and his wife are the parents of five young children. He praises the economic and living situation in Utah County, and advocates for harnessing resources to help individuals who struggle with drug addiction, mental health issues and repeated incarceration.

Tom Sakievich – www.tomforcounty.com

A retired Lt. Colonel, Sakievich spent 30 years serving in the Marine Corps in locations across the country and internationally, including in Iraq. He served as a member of regional, national and global policy-making boards, where he focused on improving efficiencies. He holds a bachelor’s degree from BYU and a master’s degree in Public Affairs (Business-Government Relations Policies) from Park University in Parkville, Missouri. He did not gather signatures, emphasizing his support for the caucus-convention system. He and his wife are the parents of six children. As a Commissioner, he would focus on proper and efficient management of lands and property. He discusses several other policy positions at length on his website.

Utah County Attorney – Republican

Chad Grunander – www.electchadgrunander.com

Born in Provo and raised in Spanish Fork, Grunander has extensive experience in the county attorney’s office. After working in college with a non-profit group specializing in Latin American judicial reform, he began his career as a law clerk for a district court judge. In 2004, he began working as a prosecutor in the Utah County Attorney’s office, where he has handled a broad spectrum of prosecution cases. In 2013 he was appointed Interim Chief Deputy County Attorney. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from BYU and earned his law degree in San Diego. He and his wife are the parents of four children. As County Attorney, his priority would be to “improve the safety of our county,” with a focus on incarceration for the most dangerous and rehabilitation for the least dangerous.

David O. Leavitt – davidleavitt.com

Leavitt’s legal experience spans a wide variety of arenas. He lived for many years in Juab County, where he ran a private practice specializing in criminal defense law, served as the city attorney, and in 1995 was appointed to serve as Juab County Attorney, where he served for eight years prosecuting cases including a nationally-prominent polygamy case. He founded and directed an international legal reform charity. He holds a B.A. in English and a law degree, both from BYU. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Leavitt has spoken strongly about a need for extensive operational reforms in the County Attorney’s office. These reforms are a focus of his campaign and he has listed his focus areas on his website.

Utah County Sheriff – Republican

Jim Phelps –www.jimphelps2018.com

A Lehi native and resident of Utah County since he was 12 years old, Phelps has spent about 30 years in law enforcement. His experience includes serving for two years in the Lehi Police Department, as a Deputy Utah County Constable, Utah County Constable (an elected position) and as the supervisory deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service. He has created and worked multiple law enforcement task forces, while also being active in the Utah County Republican Party. He and his wife are the parents of five children. Phelps has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the U. S. Marshals Training Academy. He advocates bringing greater fiscal responsibility to the Sheriff’s office while protecting Utah County citizens and preserving property and constitutional rights.

Mike Smith – www.mikesmith.vote

Born and raised in Utah County, Smith is the Chief of Police for the Pleasant Grove Police Department, where he has worked since 1994. His experience includes service on the Utah County Metro SWAT Team, as a reserve deputy for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and as a member of a joint team with the U.S. Marshal’s Office. Smith holds an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice and a bachelor’s in Emergency Services Administration – Emergency Management from UVU. In 2011 he graduated from the FBI National Academy.  He and his wife are the parents of five children. As Sheriff, he would focus on working with citizens to increase community safety, and fostering efficiency and cohesiveness in the Sheriff’s office.

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