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Provo picks first female mayor; longtime Sandy leader ousted - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Provo picks first female mayor; longtime Sandy leader ousted

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Katie McKellar

SALT LAKE CITY, UT -- Incumbent mayors in Sandy, Riverton, Taylorsville and West Jordan were lagging behind in votes Tuesday, on track to lose their seats to their challengers.

That included Tom Dolan, the longest-serving mayor in Sandy's history at 24 years.

Meanwhile, Provo elected its first female mayor in its 157-year history.

Leading was Provo School Board member Michelle Kaufusi with 44 percent of the vote to UTA board Vice Chairwoman Sherrie Hall Everett's 33 percent.

Kaufusi is on track to replace outgoing Mayor John Curtis, who exited office to run for Congress.

"I am thankful for the trust placed in me by Provo voters," Kaufusi said in a statement, adding that she's "humbled" to be leading in votes to be Provo's first female mayor. "While I never ran on my gender, I'm grateful that no female in Provo ever has to wonder if they can be mayor."

Everett was not ready to concede to the race late Tuesday night, saying the early results were "completely in line with the early vote model that we projected."

"We will see the gap dramatically close for a very close finish," she said.

Dolan done in Sandy

In an unexpected turn after Dolan lead in the primary, the six-term Sandy mayor trailed challenger Kurt Bradburn, a state attorney, who was leading with 56 percent of the vote.

"I think it represents a lot of people were ready for a change," Bradburn said, adding that he knew his campaign was gaining traction, but he was "surprised" to win by such a large margin.

Bradburn pointed out that Dolan outspent him on the campaign roughly 10 to 1 - $300,000 to his $30,000.

Dolan did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday.

In a recent interview with the Deseret News, Dolan promised that if he were to win this year's election, it would be his last term - though he acknowledged he's said that in past election years but still ended up running.

Dolan said he wanted four more years to finish work on Sandy's 30-year master plan, among other projects.

Bradburn said he ran because he believes 24 years is far too long to be mayor, and Sandy needs new blood and better representation on open space and high-density issues, he said.

"For a long time, (Dolan) had one focus: development, development, development," Bradburn said. "But Sandy has had so many other issues percolating - our traffic, our parking, our finances, and our conflicts of interests. … This is about Sandy being so much more than just development."

Earlier this year, Bradburn accused Dolan of failing to disclose $180,000 in past donations from lobbyists and real-estate developers.

Dolan said Bradburn was grasping at straws, noting that the city recorder only required listing donations from the beginning of the year, but Dolan amended the form to show all contributions since 2013.

Unsuccessful incumbents

In West Jordan, longtime city employee Jim Riding was leading with 62 percent of the vote to Mayor Kim Rolfe's 38 percent.

West Jordan has become known in recent years for infighting between City Council members and Rolfe, who at one point sued for a temporary restraining order when the council attempted to lower his salary.

Controversy also followed West Jordan after Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams criticized a rich tax incentive to lure a Facebook data center to the city.

Riding, who has worked for West Jordan in various roles for 15 years, said he was "elated" and "a little surprised" by the results.

"I think the people in West Jordan wanted change," he said. "There's been a lot of bad publicity in the last few years, and so I think the people wanted something different."

Rolfe did not immediately return requests for comment.

In Riverton, City Councilman Trent Staggs was leading with 59 percent of the vote to Mayor Bill Applegarth's 41 percent.

"It appears to me that the people have spoken," Applegarth said, offering well-wishes to Staggs.

Staggs said he was "humbled" by his lead.

"It's one of the ultimate forms of trust that somebody can bestow upon you," he said.

In Taylorsville, City Councilwoman Kristie Steadman Overson was leading with 58 percent of the vote to Mayor Larry Johnson's 42 percent.

"I'm thrilled," Overson said, attributing her success to time she spent knocking on doors. "It was really important for me to talk to residents to find out what was important to them, and I think I made a personal connection with a lot of them."

Johnson saw some controversy last year after he vetoed an ordinance passed by the City Council to require all elected officials and candidates to file campaign finance statements on a yearly basis, in addition to what's required by state law.

In his veto statement, Johnson argued the ordinance sought "to correct a nonexistent problem within the city."

Johnson did not return a request for comment.

New mayors

Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan, Midvale and Murray will also be seeing new leadership with incumbents who have stepped aside, or in Murray's case, have passed away.

In Murray, Mayor Ted Eyre died this summer from complications with cancer, leading to a race between two familiar faces: former Mayor Dan Snarr - known for his 22-inch handlebar mustache (which has since been trimmed) - and Councilman D. Blair Camp, who is currently serving as Murray's interim mayor.

Camp was leading Snarr, 53 percent to 47 percent.

In Midvale, voters had a chance to make history by electing the state's first transgender candidate, but Sophia Hawes-Tingey was trailing former Councilman Robert Hale, 40 percent to 60 percent.

Hale said he was "humbled and grateful," and "excited to serve." He will replace retiring longtime Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, who was first elected in 1995.

In Cottonwood Heights, Mike Peterson was leading with 80 percent of the vote; in South Jordan, Dawn Ramsey was leading with 55 percent of the vote; in Herriman, David Watts led City Councilwoman Coralee Wessman-Moser with 54 percent; and in Alta, Town Councilman Harris Sondak led Jon H. Fay II with 85 percent.

Successful incumbents

Incumbents in Draper, West Valley and South Salt Lake were leading to keep their seats for another four years. Bluffdale Mayor Derk Powell Timothy and Holladay Mayor Robert Dahle will also be staying, having run unopposed.

Despite trailing behind his challenger in the primary, Draper Mayor Troy Walker pulled through with 54 percent of the vote ahead of challenger Michele Weeks, a Draper city councilwoman.

Walker was in hot water earlier this year after volunteering his city for a homeless resource center. The move enraged hundreds of his constituents, though ultimately South Salt Lake, not Draper, was selected for the site.

Weeks has said Walker's homeless site offer was just one of many reasons she jumped in the race, believing the city should have a more "transparent" government.

Weeks was not free from controversy either, though she has dismissed it as "political" and "petty" infighting.

Earlier this year, her fellow City Council members filed a complaint against her alleging inappropriate political speech in a city-funded newsletter and personal use of her city email and other city resources. But the complaint was recently dismissed by the state ethics commission.

Walker could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Weeks in a prepared statement said "this was not an easy race," thanked her campaign volunteers, and said she looks forward to "continuing on the Draper City Council and representing (Draper) voices."

Other municipal races

Salt Lake's mayoral seat was not up for re-election this year, but residents voted on City Council seats in Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7.

District 1 incumbent James Rogers, who ran unopposed after challenger David Atkin withdrew from the race past the deadline to change ballots, will be staying for a second term.

In District 3, Chris Wharton was leading to take outgoing City Councilman Stan Penfold's place, ahead of opponent Phil Carroll.

In District 5, City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall was ahead challenger George Chapman.

In District 7, Amy Fowler was leading Abe Smith to take outgoing City Councilwoman Lisa Adams' place.

In San Juan County, Blanding residents voted overwhelmingly to reject the sale of alcohol in city limits - 573 to 299.

Contributing: Ashley Stilson

KSL

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