In the race for Herriman mayor, one candidate has outraised his competition multiple times.
Joe Darger has received $13,050 in contributions, according to a report he made to the city this week. He spent $6,443.
The next closes fundraising competitor, Coralee Wessman-Moser, raised $2,275. That includes a $500 donation from outgoing Mayor Carmen Freeman.
While both those amounts would be pittances in bigger races, they may go a long way in the four-person mayoral primary in Herriman — population 35,000.
The primary election is Tuesday. The top two vote-getters advance to the general election Nov. 7.
Darger on Wednesday said he has not paid for any polling and doesn't know where he stands in terms of receiving votes.
The candidate is Utah’s most outspoken polygamist. His largest donation, $5,000, came from the company he owns — Green Haven Homes. After that, his campaign finance report lists only one donation of $50 or more from someone in Herriman.
The rest come from people across Utah, as well as a $100 donation from a resident in Colorado City, Ariz. It and adjacent Hildale, Utah, are home to the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
- Joe Darger: raised $13,050; spent $6,443
- Coralee Wessman-Moser: raised $2,275; spent $1,202
- David Howe: raised $0; spent $175
- David Watts: raised $423; spent $423
- Source: Herriman
Darger, who has lobbied the Utah Legislature and been active in state politics for years, on Wednesday said he utilized his connections “in and out of the polygamist community.”
For one fundraiser — a barbecue at his home — Darger invited neighbors, family and people he knows. Some supporters drove from central Utah to buy a hamburger and support Darger.
One of Darger’s biggest contributors was John and Heidi Pestana, of Provo. John Pestana is the co-founder of the software company Omniture, and chairman of the Libertas Institute.
The institute advocates for Libertarian policies and has supported the elimination of criminal penalties for polygamy in Utah.
Wessman-Moser, who represents District 2 on the Herriman City Council, said one of the biggest issues in the campaign is whether or how to add more apartments and other high-density housing to the city. She wondered how voters would react to Darger’s campaign being so reliant upon money from his homebuilding company.
“I believe our residents are very sensitive right now to the issues with home density, and I’m uncertain how they may perceive such a donation.”
Darger said some Herriman voters who have approached him know nothing about his family or background. Then there’s friends and family that are weary of associating with him.
“I’ll call up family members and say, ‘Can I put a sign up in front of your house?’” Darger said. “And they say, ‘No, we don’t want to be identified as polygamists.’”