The race for Salt Lake City mayor is on, and if the election were held today, "don't know" would win by a landslide.
But that's understandable. Few people know those who are considering running to replace Mayor Palmer DePaulis, who announced Thursday that he won't seek another four-year term. DePaulis is considering running for governor next year.In a just-completed Deseret News/KSL-TV poll - in which DePaulis wasn't included - the main contenders for the job drew little public recognition. That is, they all get little recognition except GOP State Chairman Richard Snelgrove, who ran for the 2nd District Congressional seat in 1988, losing to Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.
Snelgrove is known, but he doesn't fare as well as some of the unknowns in the race, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found.
Jones asked 224 Salt Lake residents to rank, on a scale of 1 to 5, how much they wanted to see the following potential candidates run: businesswoman Deedee Corradini, who is definitely running; Mike Zuhl, DePaulis' chief of staff, who also is definitely running; Dave Buhler, state Commerce Department executive director, who is probably running; Snelgrove, who also is considering the race; and state Rep. David Jones, D-Salt Lake, who is also considering the race. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percent.
The higher the mean score, the better the candidates showed, said Jones. "The `don't knows' really don't matter much. What matters is what the people who know the person think of him or her - whether they want them to run."
Corradini leads the pack, with a 2.95 mean score. Next comes Jones, with 2.94; then Snelgrove, with 2.91; then Buhler, with 2.89; and finally Zuhl, with 2.76.
Everyone but Snelgrove has "don't knows" above 63 percent. Seventy-five percent don't know Zuhl. But only 23 percent didn't have an opinion of Snelgrove, so he's fairly well-recognized.
Unfortunately for Snelgrove, his reputation gets a mixed rating. Twenty-six percent were not in favor of him running, while 26 percent very much wanted him to run, Jones found.
City elections are officially non-partisan. That is, the candidates' names on the ballot don't appear under a political party banner and, traditionally, local political parties don't take sides.
But over the past 15 years, after Salt Lake City changed its form of government from the commission to mayor/council form, the races - especially the mayor's race - have usually had a well-known Democrat and Republican in the final contest.
Some of the past matchups included Democrat Ted Wilson against Republican Doug Bowers and Democrat DePaulis against then Republican Merrill Cook.
The current contenders are closely tied to political parties as well.
- CORRADINI is a Democrat, who cut her political teeth working for Owens in Washington, D.C., in the early 1970s.
- ZUHL is a Democrat, working as former Gov. Scott Matheson's budget director. He left that office and went to work for DePaulis when Matheson retired.
- JONES is a Democratic representative from the city's east side first elected in 1986. He's one of the House's "young turk" Democrats, who took control of House minority leadership this year.
- SNELGROVE is a staunch Republican. He served as Salt Lake County GOP chairman before resigning to run against Owens in 1988. He's been state party chairman since 1989, his term ending this June.
- BUHLER is also a Republican. He first worked on Sen.
Orrin Hatch's personal staff. Then he went to work on Gov. Norm Bangerter's personal staff, leaving to run the governor's re-election campaign in 1988. After Bangerter's narrow re-election - in which Buhler was praised for managing a campaign that saw Bangerter rally from 35 points down in the polls to beat Ted Wilson, 40-38 percent - the governor appointed Buhler executive director of the state Department of Commerce.
Pollster Jones said he found "considerable interest in the mayor's race, even this early in the election." Traditionally, municipal races in off-year elections see a voter turnout between 25 percent and 30 percent, Jones said. "But I'm guessing we'll see a much better turnout than that in Salt Lake City this year."
The municipal candidate filing deadline isn't until Aug. 27. The primary election - almost assured in the Salt Lake City mayor's race - is Oct. 8. The final election is Nov. 5.
As you may know, there will be an election for mayor in Salt Lake City in November, 1991. The following have been mentioned as possible candidates. On a scale of 1 to 5, with one being not in favor and five being very much in favor, please tell me how you feel about each candidate running for mayor:
Not in favor Very much in favor Don't know Mean
Businesswoman DeeDee Corridini:
5% 6% 13% 10% 3% 63% 2.95
State legislator Dave Jones:
4% 5% 12% 6% 3% 69% 2.94
GOP Chairman Richard Snelgrove:
17% 9% 25% 17% 9% 23% 2.91
State department head Dave Buhler:
3% 7% 15% 6% 1% 67% 2.89
S.L. City administrator Michael Zuhl:
2% 8% 10% 4% 0% 75% 2.76