Ben Nadolski on track to be Ogden’s first new mayor in over a decade

Nadolski led Taylor Knuth 55% to 45% late on Tuesday night and three City Council seats were still up for grabs.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Taylor Knuth and Ben Nadolski meet in the Ogden Mayoral Debate at Weber State on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

Ogden voters have cast their ballots to choose the first new mayor in over a decade, and current City Council member Ben Nadolski has taken the lead over Taylor Knuth, according to unofficial returns late Tuesday night.

Nadolski currently leads with 55% of ballots counted compared to Knuth’s 45%, according to early returns. The sizable lead means it’s very likely that Nadolski will be Ogden’s first new mayor in over a decade. Current Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell, who didn’t run for reelection, will end his tenure with 12 years at the helm.

The unofficial totals being his favor were better than expected, Nadolski told The Salt Lake Tribune, but he held off declaring victory and will wait for the remaining ballots to be counted. Still, the tallies caused quite a stir at his election night party.

“When the numbers came out, we were thrilled, the whole room cheered,” Nadolski said. “I don’t know if anybody cheered louder than me and my wife and my daughters — but it was an exciting moment.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ben Nadolski speaks in the Ogden Mayoral Debate at Weber State on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

In a written statement, Knuth thanked supporters and said it was an honor to run for mayor.

“We’re in touch with the county clerk and will have more to say when all of the votes are processed,” Knuth said in a statement. “In the meantime, I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.”

In a text message Tuesday night, Weber County Clerk Ricky Hatch estimated “very roughly” that around 6,000 ballots have yet to be counted as of Tuesday night, and roughly 86% of ballots county-wide have been reported.

Knuth is currently the deputy director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council in the Department of Economic Development. Nadolski, an Ogden City Council member since 2016, is currently the northern region supervisor for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

In the months leading to Tuesday’s election, Knuth’s message to voters has largely stressed the need to shake previous norms for the city, as his campaign cry has been “get back to the basics of good government.” Nadolski campaigned on his experience on the city council and over two decades of public administration and balancing budgets.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Taylor Knuth speaks in the Ogden Mayoral Debate at Weber State on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

The two share similar focuses, like the need for more affordable housing in Ogden and the city’s need to expand transparency. However, both have voiced different approaches in addressing Ogden Police Department’s officer evaluations and how to handle the city’s involvement with a statewide renewable energy plan.

City Council seats

There are three seats up for grabs on Ogden City Council.

In District 4 — which is currently Nadolski’s seat on the council — Dave Graf is leading with 52% of votes compared to Steven Van Wagoner’s 48%, according to early returns posted Tuesday night.

Graf has been a member of Ogden City’s Planning Commission for nearly 8 years. Van Wagoner is a business owner and entrepreneur.

For the At Large Seat C, Shaun Myers is leading J. Levi Andersen with 61% compared to Andersen’s 39%, according to early returns. The current council member in that seat, Luis Lopez, announced earlier this year he wouldn’t be running for reelection.

Andersen is a history teacher at Mound Fort Junior High School in Ogden and Myers is a funeral director and owner of Myers Mortuaries in Ogden.

Incumbent Richard Hyer won the District 2 seat, as he was running unopposed.

Weber County Justice Center Bond

A bond initiative to expand Weber County’s jail facilities was posed to voters county-wide. As of Tuesday evening, the initiative was losing, with over 58% of voters opting against the initiative, according to early returns.