CACHE COUNTY – Local Republicans sent a clear message that they wanted fresh blood in the role of Cache County Clerk/Auditor on Saturday by rejecting two internal candidates seeking to run that office during a GOP special election.
Instead, by an almost two-to-one margin, the leaders of the Cache GOP selected newcomer Jess Bradfield to replace retired Clerk/Auditor Jill Zollinger.
Bradfield admitted to some surprise after his longshot win in the GOP balloting held at Ridgeline High School. He expressed gratitude to fellow Republicans who put their faith in him and pledged to live up to his promises to streamline and modernize processes and systems in the county’s clerk/auditor office.
County GOP chair Chris Booth said he plans to forward Bradfield’s name to the Cache County Council for approval at their next regular meeting on Sept. 22.
Bradfield is a member of the Logan City Council, but will be resigning that post to assume the role of clerk/auditor for Cache County.
Of 295 members of the GOP central committee eligible to vote in Saturday’s special election, only 171 participated in that balloting. Bradfield received 105 of those votes, for a clear majority of 62 percent.
The other candidates in the running for the clerk/auditor position were Chief Deputy Clerk Kim Gardner and Chief Deputy Auditor Dianna Schaeffer. Both women based their candidacies on their proven qualifications and long-term experience in the county office.
Gardner received about 33 percent of the special election ballots, compared to 5 percent for Schaeffer.
The internal GOP special election became necessary when Zollinger abruptly retired on Aug. 31, mid-way through an elected term of office slated to end in 2022.
In brief remarks prior to the voting on Saturday, Gardner was endorsed by Zollinger, County Attorney James Swink and County Sheriff Chad Jensen.
Zollinger also took that opportunity to dispel rumors that the timing of her retirement was intended to allow GOP leaders to hand-pick her successor. The former clerk/auditor said her motivation for leaving office was strictly related to issues with her husband’s health.
During his remarks, Bradfield played a pre-recorded video from Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers Gardner. Like Bradfield, she had been a dark horse candidate with no governmental experience prior to being elected in 2018. But Amelia Powers Gardner said that a fresh approach has since resolved many long-standing problems in Utah County election processes.
Bradfield’s candidacy was also endorsed by state Rep. Casey Snyder.
Bradfield said his departure from the Logan City Council will result in another local office being filled by a non-elective process. In his case, the other members of the municipal panel will select Bradfield’s replacement.