Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis formally endorsed Mike Zuhl on Tuesday, asking city residents to vote for Zuhl - DePaulis' chief of staff - in next Tuesday's primary and again in the November final election.
Zuhl, businesswoman Deedee Corradini, businessman and legislator Dave Jones and Dave Buhler, executive director of the state Department of Commerce, are the leading contenders in the Oct. 8 primary. Two will advance to the Nov. 5 final election to succeed DePaulis, who is stepping down to run for governor next year.Meanwhile, Buhler said Friday he is the only candidate who promises to cut taxes.
DePaulis said earlier this year that he probably wouldn't be endorsing any candidate until at least after the primary and perhaps not at all. But Zuhl is in a heated race with the other three candidates and it's unclear who will emerge next Tuesday.
In short, it's now or never for the four, and if DePaulis remains silent he may not get the chance to endorse Zuhl after the primary.
"I'm the mayor. I know what it takes to do this job. Many people have asked me where I stand (on the race) and I think I have to speak out now on who I think can do the best job. And that's Mike," DePaulis said in an interview.
While DePaulis was endorsing Zuhl as the best man to run the city, Buhler began running radio advertisements Tuesday that criticize DePaulis' new storm sewer fee for property owners - a fee Zuhl helped devise and which he supports.
"Ninety-nine percent of what a mayor does is deliver services - services like water and street repair that are taken for granted by most of the people," said DePaulis. "Being a mayor is being a good manager, motivating your people to do the job while keeping taxes as low as possible. Mike knows these things. He's done these things.
"Perhaps I'm being a bit facetious, but Salt Lake City will be just fine if the mayor doesn't have a foreign policy or deal in international issues. He has to bring home the basic services," DePaulis said.
As DePaulis lauded Zuhl and said he was his candidate, Buhler said Zuhl, Corradini and Jones all have failed to pass the most critical test for a mayoral candidate - cutting taxes.
"I'm the only candidate who wants to repeal the `rain gutter' fee - which is really a tax," said Buhler. Zuhl supports the fee. Corradini and Jones say they don't like it, but won't attempt repeal, either.