Salt Lake City’s west-side neighborhoods appeared on the brink of electing new council members late Tuesday night, while incumbents on the east side were cruising to big reelection victories, according to unofficial returns.
The city has five council races, all decided by ranked choice voting. Here’s a district-by-district look.
Victoria Petro-Eschler led in a race that is sure to add a new face to the Salt Lake City Council.
This district — which includes the Rose Park, Westpoint and Jordan Meadows neighborhoods along with part of the Fairpark area — had seen a competitive contest between Petro-Eschler and Blake Perez.
Petro-Eschler had 52.4% of the vote to Perez’s 47.6%. Richard D.M. Barnes, a geologist, came in third and was eliminated. With ranked choice voting, those ballots were shifted to the voters’ second choice if the voter listed one.
On Tuesday night, Petro-Eschler said “It is looking really great. I’m feeling like District 1 and I did what needed to be done. We understood each other.”
She added, “My community tonight chose responsiveness, authenticity and just substance.” Petro-Eschler has already started planning dinners with community council leaders as soon as next week.
Perez wasn’t ready to concede, though. “We are waiting for numbers,” he said, “and more ballots.”
More results from valid mail-in ballots will be added Thursday.
This district had been represented by James Rogers for the past two terms. He decided not to run again this year and then resigned his seat at the beginning of October to spend more time with his children.
Rogers’ resignation means the winner of this race will likely get an early start. The City Council has already planned a meeting for next Tuesday to pick the temporary council member for the rest of this year.
Petro-Eschler received endorsements from state Sen. Luz Escamilla and former state Rep. Jen Seelig, among others. Petro-Eschler is the executive director of the Salty Cricket Composers Collective, a nonprofit that introduces new audiences to modern classical music. She also serves on the city’s Historic Landmark Commission.
Perez was backed by Rogers along with other political leaders such as former U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams and state Sen. Derek Kitchen. Perez is the deputy director of the Central Wasatch Commission and previously headed the Rose Park Community Council.
In the crowded and congenial race to represent this west-side seat, Alejandro Puy jumped to a significant lead and claimed victory.
District 2 — which includes the Glendale and Poplar Grove neighborhoods along with part of Fairpark — has been represented by Dennis Faris for the past five months since former council member Andrew Johnston resigned to work for Mayor Erin Mendenhall on the issue of homelessness.
Five men of color competed in this race.
In early results, Faris, who works for Volunteers of America Utah, appears to have been eliminated, coming in third to Billy Palmer, a former longtime host at community radio KRCL, and Puy.
Puy had 57.9% of the vote to Palmer’s 42.1% after four rounds.
Nigel Swaby, a real estate agent, was the first to be eliminated, followed by Daniel Tuutau, a liaison for nonprofits.
Puy is an immigrant from Argentina who moved to Utah to attend college. He went through the legal immigration system and has become involved in Democratic politics.
“I’m still so nervous but excited about the challenges ahead,” he said Tuesday night. “I didn’t get all of the politicians’ endorsements... but I spent my time knocking on doors, and I think that makes a difference.”
Puy, who lives in the Fairpark area, said he would encourage council members from other parts of the street to walk with him.
“Please come to the west side. Please walk the streets with me. Please listen to the stories that I have heard,” he said. “The people on the west side need to have a voice and they need to be heard, and they don’t feel that is happening.”
City Council member Darin Mano passed his first test with voters and won a full term in the district once led by Mendenhall, according to the early unofficial results.
Since Mendenhall became mayor, District 5 has been represented by Mano, an architect appointed by the remaining council members.
Mano took 51% of the vote on the first round, meaning none of his four challengers had to be eliminated and their votes redistributed to give someone a majority.
His nearest competitor, Sarah Reale, had 24.1%. Reale works in marketing at Salt Lake Community College.
In third was Amy J. Hawkins, who leads the Ballpark Community Council and teaches at the University of Utah medical school. Hawkins received 18.8%.
George Chapman, a retired engineer and a regular at council meetings, was fourth at 5.2%. Vance Hansen, who has worked in security, had 1%
District 5 includes the Ballpark, Central Ninth, Liberty Wells and East Liberty Park neighborhoods.
Hawkins and Chapman focused heavily on the Ballpark neighborhood and issues of public safety, including the impact of people who are unsheltered.
Mano and Reale sought a wider conversation to include discussions of future residential growth and density.
Salt Lake City Council leaders Amy Fowler and Chris Wharton appeared to have won reelection, according to early unofficial results.
Fowler, the City Council chair who represents District 7, had 64.9% of the vote.
This district includes Sugar House and Foothill neighborhoods, where development has surged in recent years.
A criminal defense attorney, Fowler listed her work to restore Allen Park and improve Sugar House roads as major accomplishments. She named affordable housing as one of her top priorities.
Her main opponent was Ben Raskin, a writer for USANA Health Sciences and a former bartender, who had 28.7% of the vote. Raskin called Sugar House “the soul of the city” and advocated more public art in the area. He identified public safety and water conservation as key issues.
Rainer Huck, who is retired, was also on the ballot but ran a limited race. He received 6.4% of the vote.
In District 3, Wharton, the council vice chair, captured 62.9% of the vote.
This district includes the Capitol Hill, Guadalupe and Marmalade neighborhoods along with Federal Heights and the Avenues.
Wharton, an attorney, focused on issues of equity, having previously served on the city’s Human Rights Commission.
He was challenged by Casey O’Brien McDonough, an architect, owner of three coffee shops and a member of the Utah National Guard and David Berg, who is vice chair of the Utah Democratic Party’s environmental caucus and a front-line health care worker.
McDonough received 20.4% of the vote so far and Berg 16.7%.