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Salt Lake County Officials Question Recorder Gary Ott's Ability to Run Office

Salt Lake County officials are worried that County Recorder Gary Ott may no longer be able to do his job because of health issues. But the County Council is struggling to find a mechanism that would allow them to remove him from office.

The Salt Lake County Council requested an audit of Ott’s office several months ago. The report confirmed the 64-year-old had little involvement in day-to-day operations at the recorder’s office. When the council tried to address the findings on Tuesday, Ott arrived at the meeting without his hearing aids and gave rambling, incoherent answers to questions posed my council members. He was often fed answers by his Chief Deputy Julie Dole who sat next to him during the meeting.

Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton says the experience was heart wrenching.

“It feels like that there is this attempt to just make everyone think that things are going fine when we know in reality that they are not.”

Interview requests made to Ott’s office by KUER were declined. Aimee Winder Newton says Ott’s staff told her that the county recorder is performing his duties as usual.

Newton and Councilmember Bradshaw are crafting a resolution to communicate their concerns. But, under state law, there’s no way to remove an elected official from office outside of elections. Newton says the council may seek help from state lawmakers to find a solution. I asked Newton if anyone has asked directly asked Ott to resign.

“It doesn’t seem to me like he would understand if we asked him about that,” Newton says. “That he is fully cognizant of what’s going on. At least that was my impression on Tuesday when we met with him.”

Concerned residents have filed a complaint with the Utah Attorney General’s Office calling for an investigation into Ott’s well-being.

Ott’s term ends in 2020. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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