Friday, June 18, 2010

Letter from my Wife to the Voters of Utah County

My wife kindly sent out the letter below to the voters of Utah County a few weeks ago, and the positive response was overwhelming. Thank you very much for reading the letter, and learning more about who we are, and how we would like to serve you.

Dear Utah County Republican Voter,

Over the last several months we have enjoyed discussing the future of Utah County with Republican delegates. We received strong support at the Republican County Convention, and only 39 votes separated us from the incumbent seeking a 4th term. Our campaign is now in a Primary Election. So it’s your turn to decide who will be our next County Commissioner on Tuesday, June 22nd.

I’d like to give you a glimpse into Joel, his character and values, and why I believe he is the right man for the job of Utah County Commissioner.

Joel has been my husband and best friend for almost fourteen years. During that time we moved from Utah County to New York City for law school, and then to Washington DC for work, and then back home to Utah County. We now have four children, and love the family friendly atmosphere in Utah County. Joel has always been supportive of my service opportunities, and I appreciate this chance to share with you why I support Joel.

Joel was raised in Provo, and received a superb education in the public schools. Joel’s father is a math professor at BYU, and loved nothing more than “hanging out” with Joel and his friends when they did math homework. His enthusiasm for math was contagious, and Joel still loves to carefully review numbers, and spot the relevant trends. In high school he enjoyed competing on the debate team, and developed a passion for understanding both sides of an issue so he could be an effective advocate for his side. Joel’s peers in high school appreciated him, and elected him Senior Class President, and also President of the Young Republicans Club. I started dating Joel at BYU. I was attracted to his energy and intelligence, but also to his enthusiasm for life, and keen interest in people. Even though Joel was already very accomplished at BYU, I fell in love with him because of how he made me feel. I knew I could trust him, and that is why I married him. When our relationship turned serious, many people who knew Joel would tell me “Joel is a really good guy.” And I knew that good guys make good husbands, and then good fathers, and that is what I wanted to build my family on. When we were engaged, I was proud of how hard Joel worked as a waiter at Los Hermanos in Provo to save up enough money for us to be financially independent when we got married. Shortly after he graduated from BYU we got married, and then moved to New York City so Joel could attend NYU Law School.

In New York City we were outsiders. We didn’t have the vast network of family and friends we enjoyed in Utah County. We were also quite poor. But we were very happy. Joel and I learned and grew considerably during our time there. In fact, Joel believes the lessons he learned about self-reliance, and how to work 16 hours every day, were more important than anything he learned in law school.

Joel then had an opportunity to work with one of the best law firms in Washington D.C. I will never forget the day Joel gave me a personal tour of our Nation’s Capital. I was inspired by the love he has for our Constitution, and his appreciation of the checks and balances provided by our three branches of government. After several years in D.C., and the birth of our second child, we began to miss our home in Utah County. Joel and I are both 4th generation Utah County residents. We wanted to raise our children around our extended family, and in the family friendly atmosphere that is incomparable in Utah County. Like you, we love Utah County, where our roots are deep. Joel’s grandfather started Savage Brothers Trucking in 1946, which grew to become one of the largest employers in Utah County. And Joel’s Great Grandmother helped found the first library in American Fork.

Joel wants Utah County to be a place where our children will raise our grandchildren, and our grandchildren will raise our great-grandchildren. Joel loves nothing more than time with his children. He loves to read them books, take them to the library, explore the mountains behind our home, ride bicycles, go on hikes (he especially loves Timp Cave), and coach their teams. Joel knows you love these things too. We saw firsthand on the East Coast how increases in government spending, higher taxes and crime undermined families. Joel will not let that happen here. Joel understands that government cannot solve all, or even most, of the world’s problems. But Joel does believe government should do what it is supposed to do, and do it well.

Finally, I have observed Joel first hand during this campaign, as well as when he served on our City Council, the State Charter School Board, and the Board of Regents. In all those positions I have seen the entrenched interests try to exert enormous pressure on him to protect the status quo. Every time I saw Joel stand up for what was right, and tell the truth. Joel understands the difference between the public interest, and the interests of the status quo. He will fight for you and your family, and not for the status quo. Joel has always put the needs of both me and our family before his own, and I know Joel will do the same thing for the residents of Utah County.

Our Founding Fathers understood that elected office shouldn't be a career. They believed you should get in, make your contribution and then get out. We need more men and women willing to do the same. I know Joel understands this, and is ready to prepare Utah County for the future, and thus ask for your vote on June 22nd.

Marisa Wright (signature)
Shameless Advocate for the Man I Love

P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to call Joel on his cell phone at 801-368-5385, or learn more about him at any of the links below:




Call Joel at: 801-368-5385 (MOBILE)


P.P.S. Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, June 22nd! And early voting should be available by June 8th.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Record on the Cedar Hills City Council

Some of my opponents closest supporters are circulating rumors that I had a poor attendance record when I was a member of the Cedar Hills City Council. I am happy to respond.

1. Attendance Record. I attend 35 of the 39 Regular Meetings while on the City Council, for an attendance record of 90%. The evidence is here:
These are the actual meetings where city business is conducted. All the other meetings are for information only. While I attended the vast majority of the other meetings, I frequently was conducting City Council business that I believed had a higher priority, and I knew my other City Council members could transmit the information from the informational meetings to me. I frequently remember missing information meetings to meet with residents so I could directly address their concerns.

2. Salary Increase. When I was on the City Council, we increased the monthly salary for City Council members from $200/month to $300/month. I still believe it was the right thing to do, and would make the same decision again. At the time Cedar Hills had the lowest paid City Council members of any major city in Utah County, and we still had about the lowest salaries in Utah County. We had had two City Council members resign mid-term, and were struggling to get anyone to run for office. I did jokingly propose "tripling" the salary, with the increase held back until the City Council fixed the golf course problem, since our golf course was losing $30,000/month at the time.

3. Other Allegations: The other allegations have no proof, so I will not respond to them.

4. Re-election: I did not run for re-election to the Cedar Hills City Council in 2007 because I had two other volunteer jobs at the time (State Charter School Board and Republican Legislative District Chair) and I believed I had accomplished what I wanted on the City Council (Wal-Mart started, Golf Course breaking even and plan to eliminate the debt). I don't enter public service to just be there, I enter to contribute what I can and then move on. However, note that my wife ran for the City Council in 2007, and won. I don't think she would have won if the majority of residents didn't approve of the job I had done on the City Council, but you can draw your own conclusions.

5. Unanimous Support from other City Council Members: During my time on the City Council I served with five other City Council Members. All five are supporting my candidacy for County Commission, and have yard signs up for me. They know my record, and they are supporting me. You are welcome to contact any of them to learn more.

Finally, ask yourself this: Why are Gary Anderson's supporters releasing this information only via email in the last week? Because they know it is wrong, and have no other strategy.

Endorsement from Utah County technology guru Phil Windley

Early Voting in Utah County: Vote for Joel Wright

I’m encouraging everyone I know to vote for Joel Wright for Utah County Commission. Joel is running against Gary Anderson. Joel is experienced and believes that the proper role for county government in creating jobs is to keep taxes low, plan for and build needed infrastructure, and stay out of the way. Joel recognizes that Utah county will have 1,000,000 residents (twice our current population) in 20 years and the time to plan for that growth is now.

If you’re of a mind to vote for Joel, the following table (taken from the Utah County clerk) shows early voting times and locations in Utah County for the upcoming June primary:

Utah County Primary Election 2010
Early Voting Schedule and Locations
June 8-11 and June 14-18

Location Times
Utah Community Credit Union
1364 North Commerce Drive
Saratoga Springs 1 pm - 5 pm

American Fork Library*
64 South 100 East
American Fork
3 pm - 7 pm
*Friday, June 11, 2010 and Friday, June 18, 2010
1 pm - 5 pm

Orem City - City Building Rotunda
55 North State Street
Orem 1 pm - 5 pm

Utah County Courthouse - Rotunda
51 South University Avenue
Provo 8 am - 5 pm

Spanish Fork National Guard Armory*
2801 North Main Street
Spanish Fork 3 pm - 7 pm
* Friday, June 18, 2010
3 pm - 5 pm

Endorsement from the Attorney General?

Last Saturday night I had a chance to speak with Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in private for several minutes. We had a chance to discuss white collar crime in Utah County, and he agreed with me that we're failing in Utah County and have got to do better. (Note that we've seen an increase for investment fraud claims from $14 million in 2006 to $104 million in 2009 in Utah County.)

Mark asked me several additional questions, and then ended the conversation by saying he would not endorse either me or my opponent.

Then at our debate on Wednesday night I disagreed with my opponent when he claimed he was endorsed by Shurtleff.

Well, it turns out that Shurtleff had apparently changed his mind since he spoke to me on Saturday, and decided to endorse my opponent, without telling me.

So, my apologies for any confusion. Shurtleff had not informed me that he had changed his mind, and I was relying on my last conversation with him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why did our opponent misquote Senator Bramble?

In an email my opponent sent to voters on June 11, 2010, it began with the following statement:

"In the SL Tribune, (April 2010) Senator Curt Bramble is quoted saying, “Utah County is one of the best fiscally managed counties in the state.”"

But Senator Bramble is remaining neutral in our race, so I thought it strange that our opponent would be using a quote from him. I called Senator Bramble, and he told me two things: (1) he did not give permission to our opponent to use the quote above, and (2) he is fairly confident that he was being misquoted.

So I found the actual quote from Senator Bramble in the Salt Lake Tribune dated April 24, 2010, and it reads as follows:

""Under Steve White as a Utah County Commissioner, Utah County is one of the best fiscally managed counties in the state," Bramble said."

In other words, Senator Bramble believes Utah County is "one of the best fiscally managed counties in the state" under Steve White. I called Senator Bramble back and shared the actual quote with him, and he made very clear to me that he believes Steve White deserves the credit for Utah County being one of the best fiscally managed counties in the State, and not our opponent. Senator Bramble expressed disappointment that Gary would misquote him to such an extent.

What is almost as strange is that our opponent used another quote from Senator Howard Stephenson in the same email, which reads as follows:

“Utah County is the best managed county in the best managed state in the nation,” Senator Howard Stephenson, President, Utah Taxpayers Association. (Red Meat Radio, 2010)

But Howard Stephenson is endorsing our campaign, and not our opponent, in this election. Senator Stephenson even authorized our campaign to use the following quote from him:

"We need people in office who understand the importance of lowering the tax burden on our families and our businesses. Joel understands that we need to live within our means and not keep holding our hands out for more money from Utah's families. I have seen Joel fight for smaller government and lower taxes everywhere he has served. We whole heartedly endorse Joel Wright for County Commission and encourage you to vote for him."

-Howard Stephenson
President, Utah Taxpayers Association & State Senator, District #11

Bottom Line: I find it odd that our opponent chose to begin his email to the voters on June 11th using quotes from two State Senators who are not supporting his campaign, and then misquote one of them. I'll let the blogosphere decide why he would choose to do so.

Does Utah County have a serious budget shortfall?

Does Utah County have a serious budget shortfall? At the May 11, 2010 Utah County Commission meeting it was announced that sales tax revenue in Utah County had declined another 6.4% in 2010, and Utah County was facing a serious budget deficit.

A proposal was made to required employees to pay co-payments on health insurance (like over 90% of the employees in the private sector are already doing) and decrease the 401(k) match from 6% to 2%. Unfortunately, our opponent immediately dismissed this proposal, and any other proposal to balance Utah County's budget.

I believe Utah County needs to start living within their means, and balance the budget as soon as revenues decrease so they can avoid deficit spending.

The Daily Herald agrees, and wrote this strongly worded editorial supporting a balanced budget:

Utah County cuts

Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2010

At some point Utah County will likely need to cut employee benefits to balance the budget.
Commissioner Steve White has been looking for a way to slash millions, and is right to do so. Which is less unpalatable, he asked: firing $5 million worth of employees or trimming their benefits?
Commissioner Gary Anderson pooh-poohed: "The last thing we want to do is harm the benefits of the great employees of this county," he said.
Eventually, however, White will be proved right. An interesting parallel lies across the pond, in Europe, where governments in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Great Britain have either cut the pay of government workers or announced plans to do so.
In other words, in a era when the prime minister of Great Britain will cut his own pay by 5 percent, it's easy to imagine that a Utah County employee may soon have to chip in more for health insurance.
That's Europe, you say. But states, counties and cities across the U.S. are gushing red ink. The whole world is awakening from its government spending fantasy, and Utah County is not exempt. It can only try to limit the pain as much as possible.
Local government employees will be fortunate if the worst they must endure is stingier benefits.
* * *
Also on this subject: Sheriff Jim Tracy criticized White's comments -- not so much for their content but for the fact the commissioner made them in public.
"It ought to be between the department heads and not in the public," Tracy said.
Baloney. Understanding the county budget is an urgent concern for taxpayers, and it should be debated fully in the open. The whole idea of elected leaders making vital decisions behind closed doors needs to go.
Is Tracy for government secrecy?

Article available at:

See the coverage of Utah County's budget deficit from the Daily Herald and the Salt Lake Tribune in the comments below.