West Jordan, Brighton and Ogden mayor’s races all narrow to head-to-heads for November

Salt Lake City was not the only place with a mayoral primary on Tuesday. Voters in West Jordan, Ogden and soon-to-incorporate Brighton also narrowed their field of candidates — and West Jordan’s incumbent was only in second place in unofficial election night counts.

In a race for who will become West Jordan’s first “strong mayor” as it changes its form of government, City Council member Dirk Burton led with 42.6%, followed by current Mayor Jim Riding with 38.6%. In third place and eliminated for the general election was City Council member Alan Anderson, with 18.8%.

In Brighton, advancing to the general election are Silver Fork Lodge owner Dan Knopp, with 50.4% of the vote, and Don Despain, former owner of the Brighton Village Store, with 47.9% — with just three votes separating the two in the small town. Longtime resident R. Wade Lambert was eliminated with 1.7%.

And in Ogden, Mayor Mike Caldwell advanced to the general election as he seeks a third term, receiving 44.7% of the vote. In the No. 2 spot to advance was marketing consultant Angel Castillo with 28.3%. They were followed by businessman Daniel Tabish with 22.2% and perennial candidate John H. Thompson with 4.8%.

In West Jordan — now the state’s fourth largest city behind Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Provo — residents in 2017 approved (by a slim 63-vote margin) switching from a council-manager form of government to a strong mayor.

The new format will authorize the mayor, not a city manager, to administer the city including hiring and dismissing department heads and holding veto power over council initiatives. The mayor will no longer be a member of the City Council. The change cut Riding’s current four-year mayoral term to two.

Riding said he was attacked in recent days by a flyer from an unregistered political action committee listing 10 reasons to vote against him, which he said contained false charges including illegally disposing of city property. “I hope to dispel that misinformation as we move toward the general election,” he said.

He noted that two years ago, he also finished in second place in the primary but came back to win the final election.

(Taylor Stevens | Tribune file photo) The West Jordan City Hall on May 19, 2018.

The mayor had also accused Burton of misleading residents about Burton’s voting record on water rates. Burton advertised that he voted against raising them. But Riding said Burton voted for final passage. Burton said a cornerstone of his campaign is that he is a fiscal conservative. He also supported the change in form of government that Riding had initially opposed.

Burton said he believes he finished first in the primary “because I listen to the people. I care about the residents and put them first, and they realize that. I’m really excited for the changes coming to West Jordan.”

In tiny Brighton — where its 260 residents will officially incorporate in January — “This has not been an adversarial election,” Knopp said. “We’re a bunch of neighbors in this together, trying to figure out” how to transition into an incorporated town.

“The transition team has most of the candidates [for mayor and town council] on it, and we meet once a month. We’re all on the same page and are working together,” Despain said. However, Lambert had not met with that transition team — and was the candidate eliminated.

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) The Brighton Village store earlier this year. The soon-to-incorporate town of Brighton has a population of just 260 and 12 townsfolk are running either for mayor or the new town council.

Twelve people in Brighton ran for mayor or town council — one of every 22 residents. If a similar ratio of Salt Lake City candidates ran for office this year, more than 9,200 people would have been on the ballot.

In Ogden, the state’s sixth largest city, Caldwell campaigned saying he has helped Ogden achieve national rankings as one of the best cities to live in — and helped it decrease crime and attract economic development.

Castillo, who moved from Los Angeles about a year ago, said she saw an affordable housing crisis there “and see the same thing happening here. I don’t want that to happen in my new home” — and is pushing for more controlled, sustainable growth.

Tabish, CEO of RainTree Management, campaigned for actions to spur economic growth, which he said would lower taxes.

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) The former Star Noodle dragon sign stood watch over 25th Street in Ogden, Utah, for more than five decades and is a recognizable icon to longtime Ogden residents as well as visitors.

In Midvale, transgender City Council candidate Sophia Hawes-Tingey survived her third straight primary in a city race — but has yet to win a final election and make history as the state’s first transgender office holder. She was leading her council race with 42.5% of the vote and was followed by incumbent Paul Glover, with 40.4%. The two will face off in November after the primary elimination of Eric Chamberlain, with 17.1%.

Hawes-Tingey also survived a mayoral primary in 2017 and a city council primary in 2015, but ended up losing those races.

Results for city council races in Salt Lake County are available online at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s website.