The annual Utah County Republican Party Convention gets a lot more attention in even-numbered years, because it selects candidates for county offices and any state offices which are partisan and don’t cross county lines. In the odd-numbered years it’s an “organizing convention” which selects the county party chair and other party officers. This year’s Utah County GOP Organization Convention is April 15. I’m interviewing candidates and reporting on those interviews in posts here. A future post will report on candidates for state GOP offices.

Most the races have one candidate running unopposed, but I am writing about them anyway, so people can better know those who will serve in the various party positions. More information is available at the Utah County Republican Party website.

Editor’s note: If someone out there wants to do similar interviews and reports related to the Utah County Democratic Party, the United Utah Party, or another party, we would welcome that.

Candidates are listed for each office in alphabetical order by surname, beginning with candidates who consented to be interviewed.

Utah County GOP Chair

Cristy Henshaw

Cristy Henshaw - Utah County GOP Chair candidate

On the web:

Cristy is a high school teacher, who is concerned about the future of our party. She has read The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado and is concerned that the same thing is happening in Utah.

She is running because we need to protect and strengthen our caucus system, encourage the youth to embrace conservative values, provide better training and resources for precinct chairs and other leadership, and provide a model for open debate, not cancel culture.

Cristy loves the caucus system and wants to provide better tools and have better debates. She sees room to improve it though. She loves the delegates and the process and wants to be able to capture the energy from the nominating convention for the rest of the two year cycle.

Cristy also thinks that the party needs to do better at reaching out to the younger generations. As a high school teacher, she believes that the youth are attracted to utopian ideals but thinks that she can make it cooler for them, so they are attracted to Republican ideals instead.

Cristy is excited for the future of the party and sees plenty of opportunity at this critical time. She is also willing to engage in a good debate.

Ben Summerhalder

Ben Summerhalder - Utah County GOP Chair candidate

On the web:

Ben was raised in Portland but moved to Utah in 1974 to go to BYU and never left. He has served in various management positions, worked for the Boy Scouts, was a scout leader for 25 years, served in several party positions, and is now running for county chair. He has participated in the delegate system for over a decade.

During COVID Ben was hospitalized for 22 days, including ten in the ICU. The doctors talked about when he was going to be put on a ventilator. He never was, and he ended up being discharged three days early due to a quick recovery. He didn’t even realize how bad his case was until after he left the hospital. During that time, he felt that he needed to do more.

Ben believes that we need to focus on growing the party. We need to engage our youth and work with every high school to have a Teenage Republican Club. We need to work with UVU and BYU and strengthen their College Republican clubs. Ben believes he has the right relationships to make this happen, and with party support, he will.

Ben also wants to provide better training to precinct officers and delegates and get more people to caucus night, which will provide better delegates and precinct officers. He is also considering better ways to hold caucus night, such as having things be more hybrid so more can attend.

Ben also wants to take control of the narrative and have more visible family activities that are sponsored by the party for everyone, not just party members. He mentioned Susana Martinez, the former governor of New Mexico, who was a Democrat, but after having lunch with some Republican friends, realized that she and her husband were really Republicans. People need to see more mainstream Republicans instead of those on the extreme that the media likes to focus on.

Ben knows that to do all of that we need some solid fundraising. He wants to promote the Elephant Club and has somebody already picked out to handle fundraising. His goal is to raise $100k.With this money he can better support the programs listed above.

Jason Christensen

Jason did not respond to an interview request. He is a somewhat well-known candidate, as he has run for many offices in multiple parties.

Utah County GOP Vice Chair

Charles Wood (unopposed)

On the web:

Charles did not respond to interview requests.

Utah County GOP Secretary

Kirby Glad (unopposed)

Kirby Glad

Kirby Glad –

Kirby previously filled as the county party secretary after the office was vacated, and then was elected to the current term, meaning he has served 1½ terms. You may see him counting loudly during a vote. He does this so people can see that the count is correct.

Kirby is concerned that the use of technology has fallen away recently, and that the secretary needs to make sure that technology is used correctly to get candidates up-to-date delegate lists. Delegates and Central Committee members also need to be able to communicate.

Another important role of the secretary is to provide accurate and timely minutes to those who were not able to attend a meeting. This should be done within three days. The secretary is also part of the Steering Committee and helps guide the party.

Kirby wants to focus on improving our outreach to young people and minorities. He said that there are a lot of immigrants, and Democrats will find a way to allow them to vote. We need to reach out and get them on our side.

We also need to be the party that loves people. Kirby said that President Biden shows that he is a loving man. Former President Trump doesn’t, but instead comes off as angry, hostile, and aggressive. We need to show people that we don’t hate immigrants, gays, etc., and not let the Democrats paint us as haters.

Utah County GOP Treasurer

Mark Hailstone (unopposed)

Mark Hailstone

Mark is running unopposed for treasurer. He works for American Crafts in accounts receivable. When asked why he is running, Mark said that this is his first cycle as a delegate, but he grew up coming to Republican events with his dad, who has been a delegate for many years. He has been to Central Committee meetings and state and county conventions and wants to learn better how the party works. He wants to understand the various factions and how to better bring the party together.

Mark also wants to see more involvement from the younger generation. He was the treasurer for Turning Point USA at BYU and has connections with conservative clubs there. He is endorsed by Tyler Clancy, the new state rep for LD60 and helped with his campaign.

John Mulholland lives in American Fork, Utah. His reports on candidate interviews have appeared at since 2017. His writing on Utah politics has appeared at Utah Politico Hub.