Salt Lake City District 4 council candidate disqualified for failing to report campaign finance information

(Michael Mangum | Special to the Tribune) Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission chair Michael Iverson speaks during a meeting of the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission at City Hall in Salt Lake City on Thursday, November 30, 2017. alt Lake City Council candidate Michael Iverson has been disqualified from the District 4 race based on his failure to report his campaign finance information by the Tuesday deadline.

Salt Lake City Council candidate Michael Iverson has been disqualified from the District 4 race based on his failure to report his campaign finance information by the Tuesday deadline, the city recorder’s office announced Wednesday.

Any votes cast for the candidate will not be counted.

Iverson, reached Wednesday, said he hadn’t had any expenditures or contributions to declare and had filled that information out on the city’s reporting website — but apparently didn’t click the button necessary to confirm that, he said.

“I feel confident I could fight it if I had the resources to fight it," he said. “I did declare my finances 100% accurately by the stated deadline, that I had taken no money or disbursed no money during the period, so my finances were 100% accurate as required, but I didn’t press the button.”

Iverson, 30, spent six years leading the Central City Neighborhood Council and four years as chairman of the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission. The candidate, who works for Salt Lake County, says he is “disappointed” to leave the race but will return to his activist roots and will continue “trying to press” incumbent Ana Valdemoros on items such as police accountability and LGBTQ issues.

His exit from the race eliminates the need for a primary, leaving Valdemoros and Leo Rodgers, a 22-year-old grocery clerk, to face off in November. Ballots, however, have already been printed and mailed, according to Nicole Smedley, assistant Salt Lake City recorder.

“The Salt Lake County Election Clerk, in coordination with our office, will make every practicable attempt to notify voters” of the change, she wrote in an email announcing the decision Wednesday.

Smedley noted that she had reached out to Iverson via email on July 29 and on the date of the filing deadline to remind him that he had to push the button to file his campaign expenditures.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said about 17,000 voters have returned their ballots in Salt Lake City so far, or about 17%. She was not sure how many of those were in District 4 and could not estimate how much taxpayer money had been spent on the now-obsolete ballots, or how many votes had been cast so far in the race.

Because Salt Lake City already is in the midst of a municipalwide primary for its crowded mayoral election, she said the expenditure is likely “not a huge amount of money.”

Valdemoros, a local business owner, was appointed to the council in January, filling the seat left open by Derek Kitchen after his successful legislative bid last year. She moves forward with Kitchen’s endorsement as she seeks the support of voters for a full term and has reported $15,473 in contributions since launching her campaign, and she has $4,482 in cash on hand.

She said she was “saddened” by her opponent’s disqualification but said she had encouraged Iverson to “continue doing the great community advocacy work he does," and she had invited him to work closely with her to tackle the issues in the district.

“We had more similar goals than different ones, which clearly calls for collaboration and unity in our quest for a better city,” she said in a prepared statement. “In the midst of an unnecessarily polarized political climate, thank you Michael for showing the public with me the civility opposing candidates may share towards one another.

Rodgers, a transplant to Salt Lake City from Colorado, has raised $150 in the race and has reported no expenditures. He said he was excited to move forward to the general election but was “disappointed” to see Iverson be disqualified.

“I was looking forward to the people of District 4 to decide, but I want to thank him for his participation and I was thrilled to have his voice in this race," he said.