In evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic is still front of mind for Utahns, pediatric epidemiologist Andrew Pavia was the top vote-getter in The Salt Lake Tribune’s reader poll for Utahn of the Year in 2021.
The Tribune’s leadership has annually chosen a Utahn of the Year every year since 1997, but first it lets Tribune readers give their say.
Pavia, who has been a leader in the charge to get children vaccinated, led with 16.3% of the 474 votes received in the unscientific online poll.
In second place, with 14% of the vote, was the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. This group of six Native American tribes was the driving force behind the presidential proclamations to establish the Bears Ears National Monument in 2016 and to reestablish it in 2021.
The next highest finisher was the biggest Utahn in the group, although it’s getting smaller. The Great Salt Lake, threatened by climate change and development pressure, received 10.8% of the vote. The lake ultimately was selected by top Tribune editors as Utahn of the Year.
Next came Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who faced down a Utah legislative effort to stop schools from requiring students to wear masks. Mendenhall received 10.6% of the vote.
In fifth with 10.1% was Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, a Black, autistic 10-year-old who took her own life after, her mother said, being bullied at her Davis County school. The heartbreaking case brought worldwide attention.