Steve DeBry trails in bid to retain his Salt Lake County Council seat

Riverton City Council member Sheldon Stewart jumps to early lead in his bid to unseat District 5 incumbent.

Salt Lake County Council member Steve DeBry, left, and Riverton City Council member Sheldon Stewart, Republican primary candidates for District 5 on the Salt Lake County Council.

Incumbent Steve DeBry fell behind challenger Sheldon Stewart late Tuesday in his bid for a fourth term on the Salt Lake County Council, according to unofficial returns.

Stewart, a Riverton City Council member, captured 55% of the vote in the Republican primary for District 5, which covers the southwest portion of the county.

He said Tuesday night the results track with what his campaign was forecasting, while projecting cautious optimism over the numbers.

“It’s still early,” Stewart said.

DeBry could not be reached Tuesday night.

The returns included mail-in ballots already received and counted by the county along with some cast Tuesday. More updates were to follow, including Thursday, when additional mail-in ballots may have been received.

[Live results | Election night updates]

Whoever ultimately prevails in the primary, the District 5 seat on the nine-member council (with its current 6-3 GOP majority) is likely to stay in Republican hands. No Democrat or third-party candidate has filed to run for the seat, though a write-in hopeful could emerge ahead of the fall general election.

DeBry, who oversees the Unified Police Department’s Millcreek Precinct, said during the campaign that he was seeking another term because he has more he wants to accomplish, like securing land for a new recreation center in Bluffdale or south Riverton and improving access to open space in Butterfield Canyon.

Stewart, a bank executive in South Jordan, said he wants the county to get out of the land use business, improve budget transparency and reduce spending.

Stewart qualified for the Republican primary in April by winning the delegate vote at the Salt Lake County GOP convention.

DeBry qualified through the signature-gathering process.