Sandy mayoral candidates were neck and neck late Tuesday night, while the current Midvale mayor was locked in a nail-biter to hold onto his seat, according to unofficial election results.
New faces also were poised to take over the mayoral chairs in West Valley City, Cottonwood Heights, Murray, Herriman, Bluffdale and Alta.
This year’s election was unusual, with 23 Utah municipalities trying ranked choice voting, including 10 cities in Salt Lake County (although Riverton’s candidates had no challengers, negating the need for ranked choice).
Official certification of the election comes Nov. 16 when the county’s Board of Canvassers meets, and the county clerk will continue to occasionally update the results until that time. For the latest results, visit the Salt Lake County elections website.
Here are the latest unofficial results for Salt Lake County races (There is a separate story on Salt Lake City’s five City Council contests).
Mayor • In the Little Cottonwood Canyon resort town of Alta, only one person on the ballot won’t come away with a spot in the government.
Mayor Harris Sondak withdrew in his bid for reelection, leaving Roger Bourke as the only candidate.
Town Council • There were three candidates for Town Council and two will win seats.
John Byrne (39.6%) and Carolyn Anctil (33.6%) had early leads.
Mayor • In Big Cottonwood Canyon, Mayor Dan Knopp coasted to another term with no challengers in this race.
Town Council • Three candidates for an at-large seat on the Town Council battled for two openings. Carolyn Keigley (47%) and Keith Zuspan (33.9%) had significant leads. They are both sitting Town Council members. In third was Eli A. Lovett at 19.4%.
Mayor • Natalie Hall, Bluffdale’s emergency programs manager, grabbed a strong lead over former Fire Chief John Roberts with 75% of the votes, according to unofficial early returns.
“I’m excited that people got out and voted. And we’re just waiting for the final results,” Hall said. “I’m looking forward to bringing more businesses to Bluffdale and working on our parks, trails system and improving our transportation plan.”
Mayor Derk Timothy, who has served in that role since 2010, decided not to chase another term.
Bluffdale opted to try ranked choice voting this year, but only two candidates emerged for the mayoral race.
City Council • In the contest for two at-large City Council seats, incumbent Wendy Aston received 51.4% of the early votes for the first seat and incumbent Traci Crockett got 52.3% for the second one, after Aston was removed for winning the first.
Metro Township Council • Incumbent Kevin Severson, who ran as a write-in candidate, appeared to have been knocked out of his at-large Seat E. Challenger Ronald Patrick was ahead by 8.5 percentage points, according to the current tally.
David S. Olsen ran unopposed for at-large Seat D.
Mayor • Cottonwood Heights is getting a new mayor, and Mike Weichers secured the early lead, according to unofficial results.
Mayor Mike Peterson decided not to run again and will leave office after one term. The mayor leads a five-person City Council, while a city manager handles Cottonwood Heights’ day-to-day functions.
Peterson, along with former Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore and Police Chief Robby Russo, lined up behind Weichers, making him the establishment favorite. Weichers, who works at Zions Bank, is a newcomer to politics.
He had 53.6% of the vote after four rounds of ranked choice voting, having maintained his lead from the beginning. Eric Kraan was second with 46.4%.
Weichers watched the early results come in at his home with about 75 family and friends, including Peterson.
”It has been a lot of fun,” he said.
This race focused on the issue of policing, with Weichers backing Russo, who took strong tactics against police violence protests.
Kraan wants Russo replaced.
The other mayoral candidates included Maile Evans, Timothy Hallbeck and Ed Schwartz, who were eliminated after four rounds of ranked choice voting.
City Council • District 3 is now represented by Tali Bruce, who has sparred repeatedly with Russo. She did not run for reelection. Shawn E. Newell took the lead, with 51.9% of the vote. Mike Hanson was second with 48.1%. The other candidates, Runar E. Boman, David Rawlings and E. Samuel McShaffrey, were eliminated in earlier rounds of ranked choice voting.
In District 4, now represented by Christine Mikell, Ellen Birrell held the lead, with 52.8% of the vote. Ernie Kim was second with 47.2%. Lee Anne Walker came in third and was eliminated.
Mayor • There’s no competition for Draper Mayor Troy Walker, who ran unopposed to gain a third term Tuesday.
City Council • The real race was for two council spots. Seven candidates competed using ranked choice voting.
The early unofficial results showed Tasha Lowery claiming one seat and Hubert Huh in the lead, though Mike Green was a close second, for that second seat. When results were first reported shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Green held the lead.
As of 10:30 p.m., Huh had 50.2% to Green’s 49.8%.
Mayor • In early returns, Lorin Palmer held the lead to become the new mayor of Herriman with 62.4% of the vote, according to early unofficial returns.
“The margin is pretty shocking right now,” said Palmer, who ran for public office for the first time. The massive Olympia development is expected to be the biggest challenge in his tenure, and he also plans to increase community engagement.
“Voter turnout, it looks like it’s going to be really low,” Palmer said, “And we’ve got to do better.”
His opponent, Clint Smith, who serves on the City Council representing District 2, got 37.6% of votes.
Incumbent David Watts did not seek reelection.
City Council • Teddy Hodges led in early results in the race for the District 2 council seat with 69% of ballots tallied so far. Aly Escobar received 31% of the votes.
Sherrie Ohrn ran unopposed for her reelection in District 3.
City Council • The only contested election Holladay is for City Council District 1, where Sabrina Petersen did not run for reelection.
D. Ty Brewer led over Melissa Blackham Hilton, 51.5% to 48.5%.
Mayor Robert Dahle and District 3 council member Paul Fotheringham ran unopposed and will now serve another term.
Metro Township Council • Incumbent Alan Peterson appears likely to hang on to his District 2 seat, with a 12.5 percentage point edge over challenger Royce Gibson for District 2, according to early returns.
Tina Snow ran unopposed for reelection to District 4.
Metro Township Council • Eric Barney appeared likely to represent District 2 with 56% of the ranked choice votes, although a winner has not yet been declared. Incumbent Brint Peel got almost 37% of votes. Paris Ramos had 7% of votes so far.
District 4 council member Trish Hull ran unopposed.
Mayor • Mayor Robert Hale clung to a narrow lead in his bid for reelection with 50.7% of the vote, according to early unofficial results. Challenger Marcus Stevenson was behind with 49.3% in the ranked choice race and Amanda Hollingsworth was eliminated.
City Council • Dustin Gettel led the race for City Council District 5 with 70.9% of the votes over challenger Wayne Sharp.
Bryant Brown ran unopposed to keep his District 4 seat.
City Council • Two City Council seats were in play in Millcreek, which used ranked choice voting.
Council member Bev Uipi bolted to a big lead in District 4, according to early unofficial results. Uipi had 56.9% of the vote and Bruce Parker was second with 43.1%. The other candidates, Rex Williams and Beverly Boyce, were eliminated in earlier rounds.
District 2 has been represented by Dwight Marchant, who did not run for another term. Thom Desirant was in the lead with 52%, though he wasn’t on the first round of balloting.
Jeremiah Clark was more voters’ first choice but after Lynda Bagley-Gibson and Angel Vice were eliminated, more of their votes moved to Desirant, who was previously the campaign manager for Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini.
Desirant had 51.7% to Clark’s 48.3%.
Mayor • Brett A. Hales held an impressive lead over Clark Bullen to replace outgoing Mayor D. Blair Camp, receiving 61% of the vote, according to unofficial results.
City Council • Pamela J. Cotter was ahead of Joe Silverzweig by 15 percentage points for District 2. District 4 incumbent Diane Turner also had a strong margin over challenger Daren Rasmussen, with a 28.3-point lead.
Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, District 3 Councilwoman Tawnee McCay and District 4 Councilwoman Tish Buroker all ran unopposed.
Salt Lake City
The Tribune has a separate story with a breakdown of the races for five City Council seats in Utah’s capital.
Mayor • In the jampacked race for Sandy mayor, a tight two-way race between Monica Zoltanski and Jim Bennett emerged, according to the unofficial results.
Eight candidates were crowded onto the ranked choice ballot in Sandy, the most in any Salt Lake County contest. The contest included four current City Council members, one former member, the top staffer for the council and a former congressional candidate.
Zoltanski, a City Council member, led with 50.4% of the vote while Bennett, a businessman and son of the late U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett , had 49.6%. In ranked choice, the other candidates were eliminated. Zoltanski maintained her lead through each round.
Interest in this race spiked after Mayor Kurt Bradburn declined to seek a second term. He’s had a difficult time in office, having been accused of not informing the public early enough about a huge spike in fluoride in the drinking water. His relationship with the council has also become strained.
Bennett has been the best-financed candidate and among the most aggressive in placing yard signs that have overwhelmed some parts of Sandy.
Linda Saville, a former longtime council member, was among the earliest candidates in the race. She was in fourth.
The sitting council members running included Zoltanski and Kris Nicholl, who was the last candidate to be eliminated in ranked choice voting. The other council members in the race were Brooke Christensen and Marci Houseman. Candidate Ronald Jones was not connected to the council and was the first to be eliminated.
Mike Applegarth, the executive director for the council, also was a candidate. He was the third candidate eliminated.
City Council • The early leader for an open at-large seat, now represented by Zach Robinson, was Brooke D’Sousa, who claimed 53.4% of the vote after five rounds. In second was Aaron Dekeyzer, with 46.6%.
The other candidates were Steven Calbert, Rebecca Colley, Evan Tobin and Kristen Wray.
In District 1, which is being vacated by mayoral candidate Christensen, Ryan Mecham, with 50.3% held a slight lead over Katie Johnson, who had 49.7%. Jeffory Mulcahy came in a distant third.
In District 3, which is being vacated by mayoral hopeful Nicholls, Robinson, who now is the at-large council member, had a big lead, with 51.7%. In second was Jim Edwards at 36.8% and Bekah Craig was third with 11.5%. Since Robinson had more than 50%, no candidate was eliminated.
Mayor • Mayor Dawn R. Rasmey held a comfortable lead over challenger Stone Fonua, receiving 91.6% of votes in early returns.
City Council • District 3 Councilman Don Shelton and District 5 Councilman Jason McGuire ran unopposed.
South Salt Lake
Mayor • Mayor Cherie Wood captured a strong lead over challengers Jake Christensen and L. Shane Siwik. The first round of ranked choice voting showed her with 58.7% of the votes, followed by Christensen at 21.9% and Siwik with 19.4%.
City Council • No ranked choice selections were necessary for City Council, because only two candidates filed for each open position. Clarissa J. Williams edged ahead of Olivia Spencer for an at-large seat with 52.5% of the votes, according to early returns.
Incumbent Corey Thomas had a narrow lead over challenger Sam Garfield in District 2, with Thomas earning 52.4% of the votes so far.
Meanwhile, incumbent Sharla Bynum sat comfortably ahead of Aileen E. Hampton in District 3, garnering 69.1% of the ballots counted.
Mayor • Most of the candidates in Taylorsville ran uncontested, including Mayor Kristie Steadman Overson.
City Council • Robert Knudsen led the race for District 5 with 51.8% of the votes, according to unofficial reports. Incumbent Dan Armstrong did not seek another term. Knudsen works as an accountant at the University of Utah, and his challenger, Larry Johnson, who had almost 48.3% of votes, is a former Taylorsville mayor.
Anna Barbieri, a former Taylorsville planner who was appointed to represent District 3 in 2020, ran unopposed.
Meredith Harker, who represents District 4, also ran uncontested.
City Council • Pamela Bloom appeared to have edged out incumbent Chad Lamb for one of three at-large seats up for grabs, according to early returns.
The current tally sat at 22.6% of the votes for incumbent Kayleen Whitelock, 19.6% for both Bloom and incumbent Kelvin Green, 18.8% for Lamb and less than 10% of the votes going to challengers Mike S. Withers and Mikey Smith.
West Valley City
Mayor • Capturing nearly 58.5% of the votes, Karen Lang maintained a strong lead over Steve Buhler to become West Valley City’s next mayor, according to unofficial results.
Both Buhler and Lang currently serve on the City Council in Utah’s second most-populous city.
“I’m excited and up for the challenge,” Lang said after reviewing the early results. “You just never know [what to expect]. But I’m very pleased with how it turned out.”
Incumbent Ron Bigelow did not seek another term.
City Council • Incumbent Lars Nordfelt led the race for an at-large seat on the City Council with 59% of votes, so far.
Nordfelt has served on the council since 2014. Challenger Jim Vesock was 23 percentage points behind. Write-in candidate Lindie Sue Beaudoin, a U.S. Navy Nurse Corps veteran, had 4% of the vote.
With nearly 60% of the votes, Scott Harmon led the race for the District 2 seat, which Buhler currently holds. Chris Bell, a Salt Lake Community College student, had 40.2%
And, with 52.8% of the votes, incumbent Jake Fitisemanu was ahead for the District 4 seat. Fitisemanu is a program manager with the Utah Department of Health. His challenger is Darrell R. Curtis, a 25-year West Valley City resident.
Why are some races ranked choice?
Rather than choosing just one candidate, ranked choice balloting allows voters to sort a list of hopefuls in their order of preference.
The Utah Legislature passed a bill this year that expanded its pilot ranked choice voting option to more cities, although some county clerks expressed dread about administering those elections, since ranked choice is more complex.
“With the nine cities [and one township] that ended up having a ranked choice contest, and trying to format that ballot fairly ... that was one of the big challenges,” said longtime Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen.
The county had to format 79 types of ballots among all the ranked choice, traditional and service district elections this year. Swensen expected a voter turnout rate of 26% to 28%.
“The interesting thing about this year’s election is we have a lot of uncontested races,” Swensen said, which usually results in fewer voters submitting ballots.