Presented with an array of options, including a bobcat that became internet famous, a new president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and “the Utah voters” in this midterm election year, readers of The Salt Lake Tribune instead gravitated to three names when asked who should be the Utahn of the Year.
Brent Taylor, the North Ogden mayor and member of the Utah National Guard who was killed in Afghanistan, led the way with more than 4,800 votes.
He also was the pick of The Tribune’s top editors.
In naming Taylor the Utahn of the Year, the newspaper called him “an articulate and enthusiastic evangelist for democracy” and someone “Utahns would like to hold up as an example of who we are.”
Matthew Burchett came in a close second in the unscientific poll of readers. This 42-year-old Draper fire battalion chief volunteered to travel to California to fight the massive Mendocino Complex Fire. He died when a plane dropped a load of retardant too close to the ground, uprooting a tree that crushed him.
He was the first Utah firefighter to die battling a wildfire since 2006.
Burchett was remembered as a smart and hardworking man, who took his job seriously, but who also had a “Cheshire cat grin.”
In third place came Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, a recognition driven by far more than what he’s done on the court. Mitchell has embraced the Utah community like no Jazz player before him, going to college and high school athletic events, showing up at a fan’s Fourth of July barbecue and embracing the Taylor family after Brent Taylor’s death.
Here are the results of the reader poll as of noon on Dec. 24:
Brent Taylor — 35.45 percent.
Matthew Burchett — 29.36 percent.
Donovan Mitchell — 18.78 percent.
Mr. Murderbritches, the bobcat — 2.81 percent.
“The Utah voter” — 2.32 percent.
Christine Stenquist, medical marijuana advocate — 2.16 percent.
Russell M. Nelson, LDS Church president — 1.79 percent.
Willie Grayeyes and Kenneth Maryboy, Navajo members elected to the San Juan County Commission — 1.20 percent.
Rep. Mia Love — 1.10 percent.
Rep.-elect Ben McAdams, who defeated Love in the 4th District — 1.07 percent.
Ruth Watkins, University of Utah president — 0.78 percent.
Lauren McCluskey, University of Utah student murdered on campus — 0.68 percent.
Astrid Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University — 0.24 percent.
Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics — 0.09 percent.
Josh Holt, Utahn freed from a Venezuelan prison — 0.08 percent.
Other — 0.73 percent.