This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Democrats often campaign as the party of change especially in Republican-dominated Utah but during their organizing convention Saturday in Park City, they decided they like the status quo.
Chairman Peter Corroon was re-elected to a second term without opposition and delegates voted against changing their candidate-nominating rules beyond those spelled out in SB54, the new law that provides hopefuls a path to the primary ballot by gathering voter signatures.
Democratic loyalists who sacrificed outdoor activities on a warm, sunny Saturday to attend the hours-long convention at Park City High School rejected several proposed changes:
• Allowing any candidate drawing more than 25 percent of the delegate vote to appear on a primary ballot
• Raising the threshold from the current 60 percent to 70 percent of the delegate vote to clinch the party convention nomination (although that winner still would have to face anyone who made it to the primary by gathering signatures)
• Adopting a preferential voting system at convention in which delegates cast votes not just for their favorite candidate, but also second and third picks.
Corroon had pushed some of the reforms as a way of making it easier for candidates to go to a primary and let voters decide who should represent the party in the general election, rather than the relatively small group of convention delegates.
"We don't want political parties to be insular organizations that exclude the public. We want to make it easier for people to get on the ballot, and to give voters a greater choice," he'd said previously, and told delegates on Saturday.
While expressing some disappointment, he said the delegates' will carried the day.
"We made [the proposals] a little too complicated to explain so people decided to keep the current system," he said.
At the same time, delegates quickly and decisively adopted changes to comply with SB54, ensuring the Utah Democratic Party and its candidates will be fully certified for ballot qualification.
In addition to Corroon, delegates elected Vice Chairwoman Breanne Miller, Treasurer Zach Robinson and Secretary Marcus Stevenson. Miller is an attorney in the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, Robinson is a former firefighter, and Stevenson is chairman of the Young Democrats of Davis County.
Corroon said Democrats' goals for next year are reclaiming several legislative seats the party lost in close Salt Lake County races last year, picking up a congressional seat and, perhaps, a U.S. Senate seat.
Doug Owens spoke to the convention, asking for support if he decides to again challenge Republican Rep. Mia Love in Utah's 4th Congressional District.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams also was on hand Saturday. Notably absent was state Rep. Justin Miller, whom McAdams has accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds. Miller, meantime, has claimed his complaint of ethics violations in the mayor's office led to his improper firing as associate deputy mayor.
Corroon repeated his previously stated view that if Miller is innocent, he should bring forward evidence vindicating him, and do it sooner than later.
"We as Democrats are getting a little frustrated that we haven't seen anything. If he's done something wrong, then he should resign, try to minimize the damage to himself and his family and move on."