Said James Madison, often referenced as the Father of the Constitution, “Experience is the oracle of truth and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred“.
Tonight I had the opportunity to attend an open house meeting with Brock Belnap who is running for re-election as Washington County County Attorney. The meeting was sponsored in part by four of the St. George City Council members, along with several other including Stephen Wade who introduced County Attorney Belnap.
I don’t know why I attended since I cannot vote in next week’s Republican primary election. I am the chairman of the Washington County Constitution Party. Whereas our party is not fielding a county attorney candidate it is appropriate to know who the other party candidates are.
Throughout this primary race one of the issues that has repeatedly surfaced is the idea of the county attorney being supportive of the US Constitution. That is an issue which members of the Constitution Party take seriously. It behoove each of us to know the views of candidates with respect to the US Constitution generally.
I can’t conceive of many candidates for any office, especially in Utah, openly being opposed to the Constitution. Can you?
Yet, when one reads a phrase like “return to the Constitution” it is difficult to imagine the comment is intended to convey any other meaning than that the opponent has a general disregard for the Constitution. “Return” certainly implies that the current situation suggests that a distance has been created.
Tonight, in the words of Brock Belnap, I distinctly heard and felt “unequivocal” commitment to the US Constitution. PERIOD.
The second aspect of this race addresses the issue of experience. Brock Belnap has several years as the Washington County Attorney. Beyond that he also has several more years as a highly competent litigator and attorney.
However, there is more to experience than years on the job. One of my occasionally used phrases to cynically describe someone with little competence is, “He does not have twenty years experience. He has one year’s experience, twenty times.” What then is experience besides tenure? Experience is wisdom gained from tenure. Brock Belnap has experience.
Brock Belnap, through his tenure on the job, realizes that a significant aspect of his job is administrative. Administering the office of a couple dozen professional attorneys and essential staff members is not about Constitutional or even legal principles. It is about knowing how to motivation, organization, and delegation.
My very successful coach, many years ago by the way, said the secret of success was finding the strength of his players and then placing them where they could and would achieve. Given that Brock’s entire team supports him for re-election suggests that he know how to discover the strength of players under his leadership. Who is his team? The people in his office, the County Commission, all the law enforcement chiefs in the county, numerous city council members from around the county, and citizens far and wide.
There is another aspect to the job. As a former city manager I am well aware of this dual role. The county attorney must act as both litigator and legal counsel for the County Commission. That is a challenge. On one hand his role is to prosecute. On the other hand he is to advise the commission (and presumably all departments) on how to stay out of hot water, the deep end of the pool, or in other words keep their heads when all others are loosing theirs.
Achieving that balance comes only through experience (wisdom gained through tenure). That experience is convincing in the level of respect and support County Attorney Belnap has from many sectors.
Yet another aspect of the job is an ability to seek out justice. Justice, not readily acknowledged by most people, is not in the final verdict of a jury and subsequent sentencing by a judge. Conviction and sentencing are the exacting of accountability for misdeeds. Justice is when a victim or surviving victims of violence feel that fairness and equilibrium of life to some degree has been restored. From the testimony, including an emotional response from one of County Attorney’s litigators, of people in attendance tonight Brock Belnap is a man of discernment and justice.
I decided to give Mr. Belnap a little test tonight (as though I am qualified to do so). I asked him a question about immigration. A lot of sensationalism floats around about illegal immigration, and many folks tend to get it wrong. I wanted to hear Mr. Belnap’s response so that I could gauge, at least for my benefit, his reign on the issue.
I was more than pleased by his response. County Attorney Belnap clearly understands what his role is in the Washington County. His response was spot-on. He demonstrated that his experience was far more than simply tenure.
What I heard tonight, as one with an exceptional interest in the US Constitution, was that Brock Belnap is a man fully competent and experienced, not give to verbosity. He is respected by many. He is a man who in all aspects of the county attorney role is fitly qualified if not exceeding expectations.
I am hopeful that we will retain Brock Belnap as County Attorney.
That Is The Way I See It.