SALT LAKE CITY — Republicans and Democrats are as soon as once more battling it out for one of the crucial high-profile seats within the state: the mayor of Utah’s most populous county.
But they’re not alone. A Green Party candidate has made a uncommon look on this 12 months’s poll. He’s searching for to shake up what’s usually been a two-party race by giving environmentally minded voters another choice.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson — thought of one of the crucial highly effective Democrats in Utah due to her present place that she received when social gathering delegates picked her to interchange former Mayor Ben McAdams after he was elected to Congress two years in the past — is preventing to carry on to the seat this November.
The Republican challenger is a well-known face to south-valley residents: Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. The Green Party challenger can be a well-known face — however principally to Utah environmentalists and anti-inland port activists: co-founder of SLC Air Protectors and agriculture activist Michael Cundick.
Leading as much as the final election, Wilson stated her focus has been on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the slew of different crises which have cropped up within the whirlwind 12 months 2020, not a lot campaigning as she normally would.
Meanwhile, her opponents have been making their instances to voters. Staggs has been investing a lot of his time in campaigning, pitching himself as a fiscal conservative that guarantees to slash what he calls a “bloated” county price range and lead Salt Lake County by way of each the pandemic and future progress higher than Wilson has. So has Cundick, aiming to sign to different millennials like himself they’ve one other selection for a extra environmentally sustainable future.
Wilson, who’s proceeded by 15 years of Democratic maintain on the county mayor’s workplace, brushes off Staggs’ criticisms. She questions whether or not the Riverton mayor has the wherewithal to realistically handle the county any higher, and says Salt Lake County can’t afford to endure a management change amid a time of disaster.
“I cannot imagine bringing in a new mayor right now,” Wilson stated, describing how she spends “a great amount of time” addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. “To hand over the keys to the county to a new mayor would be devastating to the county right now.”
Salt Lake County voters on Nov. 3 will resolve in the event that they need to maintain Wilson as mayor for the following 4 years, or swap to the primary Republican mayor since former Mayor Nancy Workman, elected in 2001. Or they might decide a brand new mayor from a brand new social gathering altogether.
“People want to see change,” Staggs stated, assured the presidential election will energize Republicans on the polls. Though it’s a steep process to unseat an incumbent — somebody he labels a “lifelong bureaucrat” — the Riverton mayor believes his message has been resonating with voters, who he stated are pissed off with Wilson’s dealing with of the COVID-19 disaster.
An early critic of Salt Lake County’s masks requirement, for which Wilson has been a proud proponent, Staggs stated he’s supportive of face coverings, simply not mandates. Staggs additionally stated the county “should have done much more with testing,” criticizing Wilson for not deploying extra federal funding sooner towards growing county testing capability. He stated Salt Lake County “could do over 10,000 tests a day, easily.”
Staggs has additionally attacked Wilson over the county’s price range, saying it’s ballooned past motive. He criticized Wilson for together with a tax hike in her first price range, and pledged to chop spending like he did at Riverton City Hall.
“I’ve got a record in Riverton of actually cutting taxes by millions of dollars — innovative, restrained government spending,” Staggs stated. He stated he would begin by slashing the mayor’s price range and his personal wage, and discover different choices for companies, like maybe contracting out animal companies.
Wilson scoffs at Staggs’ criticisms over the COVID-19 response and his assaults on the county’s price range. She stated she’s pleased with the umbrella of coordinated county response groups which have shaped underneath her management. She stated her masks mandate has “saved lives,” together with “all the work we did early to save businesses.” She stated Staggs’ criticisms on testing availability is unfounded and argues “anybody who needs to get a test who has symptoms has got a test in our community.”
“If it’s anything I’m proud of, it’s my teams’ COVID response,” Wilson stated. “The infrastructure we built early and the decisions we made saved lives and have put our economy in frankly pretty good shape. … If there’s one thing that I think my team and I did incredibly well, it’s COVID. And we’re not done yet.”
To Staggs’ price range criticisms, Wilson notes the county continues to take care of the lauded AAA bond ranking for its fiscal administration and “incredible cooperation across party lines” with different independently elected workplaces like auditor and treasurer. Like she did when she proposed the tax hike final 12 months — which was proceeded by years of her predecessor warning budgets had been turning into more and more strained — she defended it because the fiscally accountable factor to do for the reason that county’s buying energy had eroded over time resulting from inflation and years and not using a property tax fee enhance.
“The treasurer, the auditor, the sheriff, the district attorney, every one of them came to the council and supported that increase,” Wilson stated. “That increase did not create new programs, it stabilized our budget. Those are the hard decisions a mayor needs to make, and I would question, given the narrative my opponent is pushing, that he has the wherewithal to be a mayor, to be in the situation to make the tough decisions.”
In one other nook, Cundick sees himself as an choice that takes a bigger-picture perspective to Salt Lake County’s future — one that may prioritize environmental sustainability above all else. It’s a technique he argues would assist residents in Utah’s most populous county heal faster from COVID-19, and have a happier more healthy life.
“It’s not a traditional line of political energy to have someone that is so focused on clean air, clean water, healthy soils like myself step in, but I believe that we are importantly interconnected,” Cundick stated. “There is no communal health without environmental health, and we live in a state that is (extracting) fossil fuels and building an inland port and ignoring that base reality for the necessary stewardship for our environment.”
Cundick, described himself as a “tattooed, millennial, progressive” candidate who was requested to run for mayor by the Green Party to present a voice to those that need to prioritize environmental stewardship and “bring the necessary urgency around the crisis we have with our relationship to the living planet around us.”
“To step in like this allows a chance for really fresh blood and political awareness that would inspire young people to understand we actually have a chance to use politics to change the status quo,” Cundick stated. “That’s why I’m running.”
Asked how he would sort out the COVID-19 disaster as mayor whereas additionally grappling with environmental points, Cundick stated his method would come with “a lot more focus on baseline physical health of our bodies and environment and address the underlying causes that are hurting people” just like the pharmaceutical business and animal agriculture.
Cundick stated the motion has to begin someplace, and neither Wilson or Staggs “share the values of the up-and-coming generation.”
“I am the politician of the future,” he stated. “Whether that future is a month from now or 10 years from now, we’re heading in a direction that if we don’t address our broken relationship to the environment, none of us are going to be happy and healthy.”
While the mayor’s race is essentially the most high-profile, there are extra county races to observe. Four of 9 Salt Lake County Council seats are up for election this November, in addition to the county assessor, recorder, surveyor and treasurer.
Republican Laurie Stringham goes for an at-large seat, difficult Councilwoman Shireen Ghorbani, whom Democratic delegates picked to fill the chair left vacant by Wilson when she turned mayor. It’s more likely to be an uphill battle for Stringham, after Ghorbani gained widespread identify recognition in her unsuccessful 2018 bid in opposition to Rep. Chris Stewart.
At least one new face is assured to be becoming a member of the Salt Lake County Council subsequent 12 months. South Jordan Mayor Dave Alvord, a Republican, is up in opposition to Deborah Gatrell, a Democrat, for Councilman Michael Jensen’s open District 2 seat.
Jensen opted to not run for reelection this 12 months. The former Unified Fire Authority chief had been accused of misuse of public funds, nepotism and making a “culture of fear” inside Unified, although prosecutors declined to file prices. Jensen resigned from the publish over 4 years in the past as questions swirled round Unified’s spending underneath his management, however he was reelected to the County Council in 2016 when he ran unopposed.
One councilman might lose his seat after he didn’t win the Republican nomination within the main, however he’s not giving up. Councilman Max Burdick is operating as a write-in candidate to carry on to his District 6 seat. Republican Dea Theodore, who received 55.6% of the GOP vote within the June main, and Democrat Terri Tapp Hrechkosy are on the poll.
At least one councilwoman is about to remain. Democrat Ann Granato is operating unopposed in District 4 after she was picked to fill the seat left behind by her late husband, former Councilman Sam Granato, after he died in 2018 of most cancers.
Salt Lake County Recorder Rashelle Hobbs, a Democrat, is preventing to remain in workplace, is up in opposition to challenger Erin Preston, a Republican.
Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs, appointed to the place in 2014, determined in opposition to operating for reelection. Two assessor workplace staff are vying to interchange him: Chief Deputy Assessor Chris Stavros, a Republican, and Jennifer Fresques, a Democrat.
Salt Lake County Treasurer Wayne Cushing, a Republican, is being challenged by Michael McDonald, a Democrat. And Salt Lake County Surveyor Reid Demman, a Republican, is operating for reelection unopposed.
Other Wasatch Front races
In Utah County, Salt Lake County’s extra conservative neighbor to the south, a poll query has massive implications for the county’s future.
Voters will resolve whether or not they need to change their present three-member fee type of authorities to a brand new type: a mayor and a five-member council. The query is labeled Proposition 9 on the poll. If voters approve the proposition, the primary Utah County mayor and County Council shall be elected throughout the 2022 common election and can change the three-member County Commission in January 2023.
Additionally, one of many County Commission seats is up for election this 12 months.
Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie, who got here out as homosexual final 12 months, was ousted within the GOP main. Ivie misplaced with 39.5% of the vote to former Marine Lt. Col. Tom Sakievich, who acquired over 60% of the vote.
Sakievich is up in opposition to Democrat Jeanne Bowen within the common election. All the candidates for Utah County assessor, recorder, surveyor and treasurer are operating unopposed, all Republicans.
In Davis County to the north, there are not any contests. Davis County Commissioner Randy Elliott, a Republican, is operating unopposed. So are the candidates for assessor, recorder, surveyor and treasurer — additionally all Republicans.
In Weber County additional north, issues are extra fascinating. Weber County Commissioner Jim Harvey, a Republican, is searching for a second time period. He’s being challenged by Democrat Alex McDonald.
The solely different contested contests in Weber County are for recorder and treasurer. Weber County Recorder Leann Kilts, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Samuel Leake. Treasurer John Bond, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Joshua Pope.