Cautionary tale of the Grand County Council

Although the historic election of Congresswoman Mia Love is garnering significant attention, there is one election that has not gotten the attention it deserves–the Grand County Council election. What happened in Grand County should serve as a cautionary tale for elected officials everywhere.

Shortly before the election, the Grand County Council met to hear public opinion on whether or not they should join the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition. Other members of the coalition include Emery, Duchesne, Uintah, Carbon, Daggett and San Juan counties.

This coalition is controversial, especially in Grand County–a county whose history was one of mineral and oil extraction but whose present, and hopefully its future, is tourism, recreation and environmental beauty.

The coalition is pushing the construction of a $3 billion railway that would ship oil and crude from the Uintah Basin right through Grand County.

In addition to the laundry list of environmental concerns, the coalition agreement only requires that three counties agree on a course of action, enabling Carbon, Duchesne and Uintah, three counties that fully support extractive industries, to make the decisions regardless of the impact and input of Grand County.

Following a very heated and packed council meeting where public opposition was the overwhelming majority, the council, led by chairman Lynn Jackson, voted 6 to 1 to join the coalition, clearly choosing not to listen to their constituents.

Less than two weeks later, Grand County residents went to the polls where three of the seven council seats were on the ballot.

With a 74% voter turnout rate, all three seats were won by progressive or moderate candidates, with vows to overturn the council’s decision to join the coalition. Unfortunately for voters, Lynn Jackson’s seat wasn’t on this year’s ballot but you can bet he’s panicking about his next election.

What happened this election year in Grand County is not just a lesson for elected officials but an important one for all voters across the state. When those we have elected do not listen to us, their constituents, we can rally together as communities and elect those who will.

Your voice and your vote matter. If you doubt it, just ask the three outgoing council members in Grand County.

For more information about the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, visit www.speakupgrandcounty.org 

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here.

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