Murray ∙ As Arlyn Bradshaw launched his bid for Salt Lake County mayor on Monday, it seemed only fitting his announcement would take place in a barn at Wheeler Historic Farm.
His father was born down the street from here in Murray, but Bradshaw grew up on a farm in Idaho. He pivoted from potatoes to politics, and this farm, he said, represents not only his own formative experiences but also the best county government has to offer: blending history, open space, family events and educational opportunities.
“I entered politics because I want to serve our community,” he said at the news conference announcing his candidacy. “I saw the impact that local government has on our lives and that the choices made on the local level impact communities for years. I also believe in the need for more voices to be heard. As a member of a minority group, I thought it was important to be one of those voices, to see what I can offer, how I can serve.”
Bradshaw became the first first openly gay councilman in Salt Lake County in 2010. He serves as the mountain west regional director of Best Friends Animal Society and has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s of public administration from the University of Utah.
Surrounded by more than 30 supporters holding apple green signs embellished with his name, Bradshaw painted himself as a “bridge builder” with the experience and the vision needed to best fill the seat being vacated by Rep.-elect Ben McAdams.
“My eight years serving on the county council have given me the experience necessary to lead an organization the size of the county government,” he said. “I also have the experience of being an executive in the private sector, leading a staff to ensure that goals are met, programs are executed properly and budgets adhered to.”
McAdams has said he intends to remain in the seat until the beginning of January. After he resigns, state law directs the County Council to notify Democratic Party leadership about the vacancy, triggering a 30-day timeline for the county party’s central committee to vote on a replacement mayor.
The central committee will meet on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. at Corner Canyon High School to make that decision.
There, Bradshaw will face two candidates fresh off congressional races: Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, who lost her Senate bid against Mitt Romney, and Shireen Ghorbani, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Chris Stewart in the 2nd Congressional District. McAdams hasn’t indicated whether he’ll support any particular candidate in the race for his seat.
Bradshaw said he plans to reach out to each member of the central committee in an effort to earn their support. If elected, he committed to running for the seat in 2020 and said that in the meantime he would focus on improving air quality, preserving open space and implementing criminal justice reform.
“Every decision must be made with the next generation in mind,” he said. “We must not pursue policy that provides us immediate gratification but instead we must choose the path that ensures the next generation continues to enjoy the quality of life we have today.”
Public leaders from across the county came to support Bradshaw at his announcement, including District Attorney Sim Gill, County Councilman Jim Bradley, Equality Utah Director Troy Williams and city council members from multiple municipalities.
Bradley, who works with both Wilson and Bradshaw, praised all the candidates in the race. But he said he’s supporting Bradshaw because he has "a far greater depth in understanding the issues and has the personality to work with people who get things done that need to be done.”
Murray City Council Chair Diane Turner said her city, situated in the “shadow” of Salt Lake City, often gets “forgotten and overlooked" by county leaders. But she expects Bradshaw, who helped run her campaign for the seat 13 years ago, will bring something different.
“He will be a mayor for all of the county,” she said.