Election night was tough for incumbent Salt Lake County mayors — four of the eight who faced contested elections appeared headed for defeat: in Sandy, Taylorsville, Riverton and West Jordan.
Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan — who served for 24 years — conceded to Kurt Bradburn, a state attorney, after trailing in unofficial results by a 57-43 percent margin in unofficial returns.
Taylorsville Mayor Larry Johnson was losing to City Council member Kristie Overson 58-42; Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth, who served for 12 years, trailed City Council Member Trent Staggs by a 59-41 margin; and West Jordan Mayor Kim Rolfe was far behind city worker Jim Riding, 62-38 percent.
In Sandy, challenger Bradburn had charged that Dolan initially failed to disclose $180,000 in past donations from lobbyists and real-estate developers — and said that “explains why the city of Sandy is now choked with high-density housing.”
Bradburn also said Dolan has been “hyperfocused” on attracting more development to central Sandy, while “I’ve been focused on all the other issues that our residents are concerned about, like openness and transparency.”
He said he has been pushing to “get our financial house in order,” and complained “our traffic and parking has become horrendous.”
Dolan acknowledged what appeared inevitable Tuesday.
“Democracy is a great thing, and people have decided they want a new mayor — and I’m fine with that,” he said. “I wish [Bradburn] well, and hope things work out for him. If he needs help, I will give it.”
Dolan said he has no immediate plans for his future, but added, “I’m looking forward to not waking up every morning in stress.”
Meanwhile, the West Jordan City Council, of which Mayor Rolfe is a member, has seen plenty of in-fighting and departures of top staff. At one point, the council attempted to lower Rolfe’s salary — and he briefly sued seeking to block the move.
Riding, who has worked for the city for 14 years, said on his website that he’s seen “how effective elected leaders can be when they show respect and work together. And I’ve seen gridlock and contention when there is ineffective leadership.”
He vowed to “work to unite the city council so that we can move the city forward rather than spin our wheels and stall because of disagreements and personal agendas.”
In Taylorsville, Overson had criticized Mayor Johnson for reducing the city’s reserve accounts to what she said were dangerous levels that hurt Taylorsville’s credit rating. Johnson derided her for voting for tax increases — a move she said “was a more prudent choice than cutting essential services.”
In Riverton, challenger Staggs campaigned promising “to do all I can to reduce taxes and fees. He said, “I have voted no on proposed increases ... [and] voted no on frivolous expenditures and tried to make government more accountable and efficient.”
Incumbent mayors who were winning Tuesday included Draper Mayor Troy Walker, Murray Interim Mayor D. Blair Camp, South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood and West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow.
Also, Bluffdale Mayor Derk Timothy and Holladay Mayor Robert Dahle were unopposed.
In Midvale, mayoral candidate Sophia Hawes-Tingey, who is transgender, fell short in her bid to make Utah history. She had battled through a five-candidate primary in August. But on Tuesday, she badly trailed City Council member Robert Hale by a 60-40 percent margin. Hale will replace Mayor JoAnn Seghini, who served since 1995.
Four other Salt Lake County cities elected new mayors Tuesday to replace retiring incumbents.
In South Jordan, community activist Dawn Ramsey led Mark Woolley, 55-45 percent, in a race to replace one-term incumbent David Alvord.
In Herriman, human-resources worker David Watts led Councilwoman Coralee Wessman-Moser by a 54-46 margin in a race to replace retiring Mayor Carmen Freeman.
In Cottonwood Heights, City Council member Mike Peterson led Tim Hallbeck by an 80-18 percent margin in a race to replace Kelvyn Cullimore — the city’s first mayor.
In Alta, Town Council member Harris Sondak led Jon H. Fay II by an 85-15 margin in a race to replace outgoing Mayor Tom Pollard.