Facebook Twitter



Self-styled political analysts who congregated at City Hall to watch the primary election results trickle in Oct. 3 had this to say as the final votes were tallied: Provo's general election is an open book.

They're right.While Mayor Joe Jenkins won the primary with 33 percent of the vote, it was hardly a decisive reaffirmation of his political leadership. It was a reminder of how fickle the voting public can be.

Four years ago, as one of two challengers to Mayor Jim Ferguson's grasp on City Hall, Jenkins waltzed off with a whopping 62 percent of the 5,476 votes cast in the primary election. Jenkins won with a more tempered 57 percent in the general election, as the number of residents forsaking political lethargy doubled to 11,506.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson once said, "The only sure thing about a political career is that some day you'll be fired . . . . The accumulated burden of doing your job will get you."

Judging from the primary election, the accumulated burden of the job may be getting to Jenkins. While it is premature to say that Provo residents are ready to fire him, it is fair to say that so far, they are not sure they want to keep him in office.

If the main objective of the six candidates who filed against Jenkins in the primary election was to splinter the vote, they accomplished their goal.

Shari Holweg may achieve the same result by continuing a write-in campaign. Wittingly or not, Holweg will bolster Jenkins' chances for reelection if she continues a third party campaign. Remember Bangerter vs. Wilson vs. Cook?

The task before each of the two voter-selected candidates is to:

-Encourage voters to shake off political inertia and believe that casting a vote matters,

-Convince voters that he is the best choice,

-Pick up the votes cast elsewhere in the primary election and

-Retain votes won in the primary election.

A key to all this is knowing where the voters are, what they did in the primary election and what might influence the outcome of the general election.

The candidates may want to consider that the most populated district in Provo is the northeast district. It has 21,881 residents spread among 10 voting precincts. The three other districts - the east, southwest and northwest districts - have approximate populations of 20,800.

There are 29,299 registered voters in Provo. Perhaps some effort should be given to signing up new voters. Only 5,750 registered voters cast a ballot in the primary. Thousands of registered voters are out there - waiting to be contacted and made to believe their votes count.

Also, the biggest voter turnout was in the northeast district, followed by the southwest and northwest districts.

Jenkins beat Sherm Hislop, his opponent in the final election, by an approximate margin of two to one in the northeast district - which is Jenkins' neighborhood. In fact, Jenkins received 55 percent of his total vote in this district.

He beat Hislop by much slimmer margins in the northwest and east districts - by 127 votes and by 38 votes respectively. It should be noted that Hislop did not carry his own district area.

In the east district, Hislop actually placed fourth, behind Holweg and J. Wayne Spence.

The east district will deserve some attention during the final weeks of campaigning.

Hislop beat Jenkins in the southwest district by 38 votes - 239 to 201.

However, the top vote getter in this district was Holweg, with 386 votes, followed by Verl Dixon with 255 votes.

The southwest side of the city could be crucial to the final outcome, if cultivated carefully by one of the two remaining candidates. Residents of the southwest district should realize that, and they should make their voices heard - particularly considering the truth of what one council candidate has pointed out: The greatest growth potential for Provo City lies in its southwest quadrant.