Preliminary primary election results show front-runners in five Salt Lake County cities

The Clerk’s Office expects more updates over the next two weeks as it counts last-minute and provisional ballots.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A voter drops his ballot in the drop box at Murray City Hall, on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.

Salt Lake County is reporting early, unofficial results for its five cities that held primary elections Tuesday. In West Valley City, Utah’s second-largest municipality, two City Council members are in the lead for mayor.

Preliminary results posted shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. had candidate Karen Lang in the lead by 13 percentage points and more than 1,000 votes over Steve Buhler. Lang was elected to the West Valley City Council in 2011 and previously served on the city’s Planning Commission and tree committee. She owns Oakbridge Greenhouse. Buhler was elected to the council in 2009 and works as an attorney.

Early results show the race is still close between Buhler and Tom Huynh, another City Council member, who was behind Buhler by fewer than 100 votes. Arnold M. Jones, the only mayoral candidate who is not a member of the City Council, trailed with 6.23% of the 8,055 ballots counted, about 20 points behind Huynh.

Two West Valley City Council seats are also up for grabs this year. Early unofficial primary results for District 2 show Scott Harmon ahead of Chris Bell by nearly 22 points. Philip Wayman trails Bell by just under 10 points. The other district up for election this year, District 4, did not have a primary.

Tuesday night’s preliminary report includes results from vote-by-mail ballots that the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office has verified and processed. The office expects periodic updates as voting centers close and return last-minute ballots to the county’s government center.

The two candidates who receive the most votes will face off in the general election on Nov. 2.

Here are early results from the other municipalities holding primaries:

  • Herriman — Lorin Palmer is ahead in the mayoral race with 47% of the ballots counted so far. Clint Smith has received 24.7% of votes counted, followed by Jared Esselman with 23.9%. Nicole Grange trails at 4.3%.

  • Murray — Brett A. Hales leads in the mayoral race with 62% of the ballots counted so far. Clark Bullen sits at second with 29.2%, followed by Adam Kent Fitzgerald with 4.9% and Alexander Teemsma with 3.9%. The primary for City Council District 4 was canceled, as one of the candidates failed to meet a campaign finance reporting deadline and was disqualified.

  • Taylorsville — Larry Johnson is ahead in the City Council District 5 race with 40.1% of the votes counted, followed by Robert Knudsen with 32.2%. Paul R. Shulte has received 27.6% of the ballots counted so far.

  • West Jordan — Three at-large seats are up for election this year. Early unofficial results show Pamela Bloom with 20.5% of the votes counted, incumbent Kayleen Whitelock with 19.9%, incumbent Kelvin Green with 16.7%, incumbent Chad Lamb with 15.5%, Mikey Smith with 9.2%, Mike S. Withers with 8.6%, Craig F. Heath with 6.2%, and Tyrone Fields with 3.6%.

Four types of ballots won’t be counted on election night, including mail-in ballots handed off at vote centers, mail-in ballots deposited at drop boxes on primary election day, mail ballots received after the election but postmarked by Aug. 9, and provisional ballots collected at vote centers.

The clerk’s office will verify signatures and count those ballots during the two-week canvassing period, releasing occasional results until boards of canvassers meet to certify the primary election in each city on Aug. 24.

The majority of Salt Lake County’s municipalities either skipped the primary election this year by opting into a ranked-choice voting pilot, or did not have enough candidates file to warrant a primary.

The county’s cities and townships that will hold ranked-choice voting elections in November include Salt Lake City, Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Magna Metro Township, Midvale, Millcreek, Riverton, Sandy and South Salt Lake. Candidates wanting to run for offices like mayor and city council in those cities must file with their local recorder or clerk by Aug. 17.