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Election 2014: County attorney candidates differ most on importance of party affiliation

October 2nd, 2014 Posted in Opinion

Story and photo by Michael Royer

LOGAN — There was standing room only in the Logan Library’s Jim Bridger Room Wednesday night as more than 80 intrigued residents and media members gathered to witness the candidates for Cache County Attorney debate.

Chris Daines, left, and James Swink, candidates for Cache County Attorney, visit after their debate Wednesday. Photo by Michael Royer.

The debate featured Republican incumbent James Swink and Independent American Party member challenger Chris Daines. Utah Public Radio’s Program Director Tom Williams mediated the one-hour debate, which was sponsored by Utah Public Radio and The Herald Journal.

“We are happy to be able to provide a venue for a debate and community discussion such as this,” said Robert Shupe, the library’s director.

Swink started the debate by explaining who he was. “I am a shy guy by nature,” he said. “I was walking in here tonight and it was by chance I glanced over and saw one of the rooms in the library was holding an emotional support meeting and I almost decided to go in.”

If Swink was nervous about the debate he didn’t let it show. He went on to say both he and his wife are Utah State University graduates, and he learned valuable traits and experience while working on civil law cases for Springville, Utah, as he attended law school at Brigham Young University.

“I learned as I went,” Swink said. “I have had some great opportunities throughout my life that have allowed me to gain some great experience in the law process.”

Daines responded to the audience with a brief background of his own. “I attended George Washington University before moving to Logan where I worked for five years as a self-employed attorney starting in 1981,” he said. “After 1985, I moved to Houston, Texas, where I did civil law work until 1997 before returning to Logan.”

Daines has practiced law for 33 years and mainly has experience with civil cases and criminal law. He promised several times that if elected­ he would use his experience and stay inside the boundaries of the Cache County Attorney.

A popular question that had been emailed in several times and was also asked in some sort of way by several audience members at the debate was brought up by Williams., who asked the two candidates how they would approach the role of county attorney, while also defending their own political parties.

“Party affiliation should not matter at all in the county attorney’s race,” Daines said. “People haven’t come into my office and asked what party I belong to, it is not important.” Daines said that the important thing is that he can assist his clients and does a good job serving them in the law process.

Swink took his turn at the question and argued that party affiliation is important to be known and suggested everyone in attendance read up on what the various parties stand for. “I think party politics are important,” Swink said. “People involved in the various parties all stand for something and it is important to know what those things are.” Swink said that when someone hears the word Republican they automatically relate the word to Republican beliefs such as limited government and being more conservative. When someone says Democrat, they stand for certain things, which is important to know.

While Swink said that the party affiliation was important, he said that when it comes to hiring individuals it isn’t relevant, saying he has hired many Democrats while serving as the Cache County Attorney.

Daines had an opportunity for a rebuttal after Swink’s answer and said, “If it is not relevant in the hiring, how is it relevant to the office? The office should have nothing to do with a partisan platform.”

In the last question of the debate before closing statements, Williams asked the candidates what they believe will be the most pressing issue the Cache County Attorney will face.

“If elected I will make sure my focus follows the Constitution and follows the core duties,” Daines said. He used the analogy of making your bed and doing dishes. He said that no one notices when a bed is made or dishes are done, but when those things are not done, everyone notices. Daines gave credit to Swink and his team for their accomplishments since elected but said he would do some things differently if he gets the opportunity to serve Cache County.

Swink said the financial issue would be the most pressing issue in the future. “We have made a lot of improvements, and become much more efficient since I have been here,” Swink said. “We are really good at doing the best with what we have to work with.”

In closing statements, both candidates thanked the audience for their attendance and said how important this area is to them.

“I have nephews, kids, grandparents that live around here,” Swink said. “I want to look out for their best interests. We live in a great place and we need to preserve the quality of life that we have here.”

Daines started his closing remarks by telling the audience that he hasn’t been involved in a government job yet in his life, but now is the time to serve the public as an elected official.
“I will serve the people well if elected,” he said. “I will stay in my role as Cache County Attorney, it is dangerous to wander.”

NW

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