Democratic challenger Suzanne Harrison declared victory Monday night in the only at-large Salt Lake County Council race on ballots this year after updated unofficial results boosted her lead over Republican incumbent Richard Snelgrove to 10 points.
If Harrison’s lead holds, she will have chipped away at the 6-3 GOP supermajority on the County Council and handed Utah Democrats perhaps their most significant pickup of the 2022 election.
By flipping the seat, Democrats would leave Republicans with a slimmer 5-4 edge, ripping away the GOP’s ability to override a veto from Democratic Mayor Jenny Wilson.
“It is clear after tonight’s returns,” Harrison said in a statement, “that Salt Lake County voters want to see the County Council move in a new direction.”
She said her margin would be difficult to overcome with the ballots that remain to be counted.
“The opportunity to serve as your next Salt Lake County Council member (at-large),” she said, “is a tremendous honor and I look forward to working together with local, county and state leaders alike.”
Harrison, who represents District 32 in the Utah House, jumped into the council race after redistricting limited her chances at reelection. She campaigned on lowering the cost of living, improving air quality, protecting tax dollars, conserving water and protecting parks, trails and recreational opportunities.
“Our campaign was built on a simple premise: that the Salt Lake County Council should be trying to help people,” she said. “Our elected leaders have a responsibility to focus on the issues that matter to residents and try to help.”
Harrison has committed to serving no more than two six-year terms.
Snelgrove, who was first elected in 2010, ran on maintaining residents’ quality of life amid ongoing inflation and a rising cost of living. He was also an outspoken critic of a proposed limestone quarry in Parleys Canyon and an opponent of a planned gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
“I want to sincerely thank council member Snelgrove for his years of service to Salt Lake County,” Harrison said. “He invested his time and energy into serving our community, and deserves our respect and gratitude.”
Snelgrove has not responded to numerous phone calls and text messages seeking comment since election night.
Democratic incumbent Arlyn Bradshaw cruised to victory in his bid for a fourth term representing District 1, a liberal stronghold that covers a swath of Salt Lake City.
“I’m honored,” Bradshaw said Monday, “that the District 1 residents have chosen to send me to the County Council for another term.”
Monday’s update showed him with nearly 79% of the vote over Republican Richard D.M. Barnes, who had previously run unsuccessfully for the Salt Lake City Council, Utah House and state Senate.
Barnes said he has not called Bradshaw to concede but acknowledged it is unlikely he will take the oath of office next year.
“I’ll see what happens at the [vote] canvass,” he said, which is slated for Nov. 22.
Republican Aimee Winder Newton convincingly secured reelection to her District 3 seat for a third term representing West Valley City, Taylorsville, West Jordan and Murray.
“I’m thrilled with my election numbers,” Winder Newton said Monday. “Considering that I’m in a swing district, a 15-point spread seems to be a great sign, so I feel like it shows that my constituents are happy with how I represent them.”
As of Monday night, Winder Newton, a senior adviser to Gov. Spencer Cox and head of the newly created state Office of Families, was outdistancing her opponents with nearly 55% of the vote in the three-way race.
Democratic challenger Ashley Liewer trailed with about 40%, and United Utah Party candidate Kerry Soelberg lagged behind with barely 5%.
In an email Monday, Liewer congratulated Winder Newton on her campaign and said she looked forward to working with the Republican council member in the future.
“Our campaign was one built on a vision for a better future, one where compassion and kindness led out and no one was left behind,” Liewer wrote. “Although this is not the outcome we had hoped for, I am looking forward to the future and plan to continue working hard to better our community.”
Soelberg said the results were about what he expected. He said he decided to run not to win the election but to get the message out that the two-party system isn’t working well and that other options exist.
Riverton City Council member Sheldon Stewart coasted to victory in the uncontested finale for District 5. Stewart earned his opportunity to represent the southwest portion of the county after defeating incumbent Steve DeBry in the June primary.