Once again, The Salt Lake Tribune will reveal its Utahn of the Year on Christmas Day. Before then, Tribune readers have a chance to weigh in.
Our list of candidates reflects the broad range of stories that caught Utahns' attention in 2018. But if you don’t see your choice on the list, go ahead and write it in. Click here to cast your vote.
Matthew Burchett • The Draper fire battalion chief left his family in August to join other Utah firefighters on the front lines of the Mendocino Complex Fire in California. Burchett didn’t make it back. He died after a tree fell on him.
Willie Grayeyes and Kenneth Maryboy • The newest incoming members of the San Juan County Commission, both Navajo, made history as the first nonwhite majority on a Utah county commission.
Josh Holt • The Riverton man’s journey to Venezuela turned into a nightmare when he was thrown into prison for allegedly having a cache of weapons. It took the efforts of U.S. government officials, including Utah’s congressional delegation, to negotiate his return.
Mia Love • The first and only black Republican woman elected to Congress lost her seat in a close and bitter race. While she left open the possibility of running again, she promised in the meantime to speak her mind: “I am unleashed, I am untethered, and I am unshackled.”
Ben McAdams • The Democratic Salt Lake County mayor beat Love in the Republican-leaning 4th Congressional District, emerging as the first Utah Democrat in Congress since Jim Matheson left in January 2015.
Lauren McCluskey • The University of Utah student and track athlete was shot and killed on campus in a case that has shaken the U. community and prompted an outside investigation of what happened.
Donovan Mitchell • The NBA rookie sensation didn’t just keep the Utah Jazz competitive after the departure of all-star Gordon Hayward. He also embraced the state in a way few Jazz players have.
Mr. Murderbritches • Who best showed Utah’s feisty sense of independence in 2018? The bobcat kitten made famous in a Divison of Wildlife Resources video for his willingness to scratch the hand that is helping him.
Russell M. Nelson • The 17th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints succeeded President Thomas Monson in January, and he immediately undertook several changes. Most notable was asking members of the faith to stop referring to themselves as “Mormons.”
David Romrell • The South Salt Lake police officer, a former Marine, was hit and killed by a car while confronting burglary suspects. His wife and a 4-month-old son survive him.
Ryan Smith • The son of a Brigham Young University marketing professor, Smith built his father’s market research company, Qualtrics, into a software powerhouse. He became Utah’s newest billionaire in November, when Qualtrics was sold to Swiss giant SAP for $8 billion.
Christine Stenquist • After years of failed therapies, Stenquist turned to medical cannabis in 2012. That led her to become a patient advocate and a prominent force behind Utah’s eventual embrace of medical marijuana this year.
Brent Taylor • The mayor of North Ogden was a rising political star before he shipped out to Afghanistan with the Utah National Guard. He was killed by a rogue soldier while on foot patrol Nov. 3, leaving a wife and seven children.
Astrid Tuminez • Utah Valley University went outside of the usual academic routes to find its new president. Born in poverty in the Philippines, Tuminez earned her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked as a foreign policy expert and an executive at Microsoft before joining UVU.
The Utah voter • The combination of a controversial president and mix of ballot measures, led by the proposition on medical marijuana, turned 2018’s midterm election into a turnout bonanza. Three-fourths of registered voters cast ballots, a stunning turnaround for a state that had trailed the nation in voter participation.
Ruth Watkins • Named in January to replace David Pershing, the trailblazing University of Utah president has prioritized quality faculty and student success at the state’s flagship school.