Southern Utah News Articles
Attorney General candidate Stormont visits Kanab
The office of the Attorney General should ideally be beyond reproach. With a mission of upholding the constitutions of both the State of Utah and that of the United States, it is also tasked with providing counsel to state agencies and public officials to work with law enforcement and protect the interests of Utah, its people, environment and resources.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office has had its share of shame of late. After many months of investigations, eventually felony charges were filed against former Attorney General John Swallow (R). The highest legal institution within the state was an embarrassment. As time has gone on, prior Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) has also been charged with several felonies.
Swallow’s replacement, Sean Reyes (R), was appointed by Republican Governor Gary Herbert, after all the chaos and scandal to fill the post until the November elections.
But in a department mired with a negative perception and activities not befitting the state’s highest law enforcement office, some people think it’s time for a change. Charles Stormont (D), who was recently in Kanab, wants to be that change.
“Several things made me decide to run,” said Stormont. “While watching the news in January, I had it in my mind, ‘when is someone going to do something about this?’ I understand the office. But independence of an Attorney General is crucial, and there is definitely a lack of independence!”
Stormont knows the office well. He has worked for most of the last decade as a line attorney for the State of Utah. He has a degree in mathematics and political science, and his legal practice has focused on economic issues. He has been practicing law since 2001, and has served in the Attorney General’s Office since 2008.
As a former small business owner, farm and ranch manager, father and husband, he desires to be a public servant (not a politician)! He has a wife, Valerie, and two young children. They love traveling in Utah, including to Myton in Duchesne County, where Charles’ grandfather was born.
The Attorney General’s Office is bigger than one might think. It has 15 divisions, with 235 attorneys, and 195 additional staff!
So, if Stormont was elected, what would he do differently?
“I would first create a State Ethics Office, where anyone could voice a complaint. I want the office to be open and transparent,” said Stormont, adding he wants to restore confidence in the office.
The second would be to change the way cases are assigned. He’d like to see a team being assigned to an issue. He believes that under the present system, the attorneys are isolated. “If you assign cases to a team, it would allow more people to speak up.”
As far as the biggest challenges to Utah, Stormont stresses the Attorney General’s Office doesn’t create law, but advises lawmakers on issues. Personally, he feels that education should be a top concern here.
Stormont would like to see the Attorney General’s Office be a non-partisan position. While that’s not likely to happen, he believes that would be something that would possibly help with what has happened in the office. “What does party have to do with legal advice?”
“I think we, the AG’s office, should be leading when it involves transparency,” concluded Stormont.