Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee trailed longtime Spanish Fork City Council member Brandon Gordon late Tuesday in his bid for a third term, according to unofficial primary election returns.
“I’m shocked,” Lee said. “But, still, it is what it is, so we’ll have to see where it goes from here.”
Other incumbent commissioners in deeply conservative Utah and Davis counties, meanwhile, appeared to be on their way to victory in a slate of Republican primary races.
Election results will be certified July 12.
The primary winners in three of the four contests are all but certain to be elected in November, since no Democrats or third-party candidates sought those seats. (A write-in candidate could file ahead of the general election.)
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Utah County Commission Seat A
Incumbent Amelia Powers Gardner held a wide lead over first-time candidate Renee Tribe for the Utah County Commission’s Seat A.
She led with about 65% of the vote as election officials released early results, which included ballots from early voting, most ballots returned to drop boxes and all mail-in ballots that had been delivered to the county before Tuesday.
Powers Gardner, former clerk/auditor for Utah County, said she ran to help the county prepare for rapid growth. She is seeking her first full term on the commission after being picked to fill a vacancy last year.
Tribe, a Lindon planning commissioner, said she jumped into the race because residents need to participate in their government. She said her experience in business and community volunteering would help her excel as a commissioner.
The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face Democrat Jeanne Bowen and unaffiliated candidate Tom Tomeny in the fall election.
Utah County Commission Seat B
An upset, however, was brewing in the other Utah County Commission contest.
Gordon, was outpacing the two-term incumbent, Lee, for Seat B, netting 52% of the vote to Lee’s 48%.
“When you’re coming in against an incumbent and you see the early numbers like that,” Gordon said late Tuesday, “we’re feeling really good.”
Recruited to run by Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith, Gordon said he aimed to improve the relationship between the commission and the sheriff’s office. He has touted his ability to build relationships and find common ground.
During the campaign, Lee said he wanted to keep taxes low and secure water resources for Utah’s second-most-populous county.
Davis County Commission Seat A
In Davis County, Commissioner Bob Stevenson was cruising toward a second term against first-time candidate Luke Elijah Brooks.
Stevenson captured 69% of the vote, according to unofficial returns, which included all mail-in ballots received through Monday, all early-voting ballots and some votes cast Tuesday.
In his campaign, Stevenson called for warding off the ugly effects of inflation by being as conservative as possible with county spending.
Brooks branded himself the more conservative alternative for voters who want a Republican other than Stevenson on the three-member commission.
Davis County Commission Seat B
In the race for Seat B on the Davis County Commission, incumbent Lorene Miner Kamalu outpaced Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd, grabbing 59% of the vote.
Kamalu said if she secures a second term, she wants to focus on emergency preparedness, workforce development and responding to Utah’s drought.
Shepherd, a real estate broker, entered the race with more than two decades of experience in government, including nine years as a mayor. He supported a total review of county finances and starting the budget from scratch every year.