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COUNCIL RACES MARKED BY LOW VOTER TURNOUT

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In a race that gave new meaning to the adage that every vote counts, a sparse number of Salt Lake voters gave a nod of approval to two incumbents Tuesday and kept another race so close that a recount is likely.

Incumbents Tom Godfrey and Nancy Pace emerged victorious in the east central and Avenues areas, respectively.Keith Christensen won handily in District 7, which covers the Sugar House area, and Stuart C. Reid won in District 1, the extreme northwest part of the city. Incumbents in both those districts decided earlier this year not to seek re-election.

But the race for second place in Sugar House was by far the most exciting. Duane Hill defeated Jerry Romero by only four votes in unofficial final results. City officials said only a handful of absentee ballots remain to be counted. But those ballots are spread over all four districts.

Romero, who had campaigned on promises to focus on gang violence, said he probably will ask for a recount.

Voter turnout averaged less than 10 percent in the four council districts with primaries. Turnout was so low that candidates worried anyone able to gather a group of a few hundred friends had a chance to win.

Voters eliminated one of the three candidates vying in each district. The top two finishers will meet in the general election next month.

Although the City Council has made a string of controversial decisions in recent months - from using golf fees to pay for general recreation programs to renaming 600 South after Martin Luther King Jr. to enacting a five-day waiting period on gun purchases for anyone under 25 - the races seem to lack issues of interest to voters.

"I heard from many people they were surprised there was an election on Tuesday," said incumbent Tom Godfrey, who easily won his race and will face student and Army Reserve Sgt. Krystal Pease in the general election.

Godfrey said he voted at 3:20 p.m. and was only the 12th person to cast a ballot in his district.

Pace, who represents the Avenues, will face Sam Souvall in the general election. She said the 8 percent turnout in her district was "awful."

"There is so much going on in the city, it's kind of sad that people aren't paying attention," she said.

In that district, voters eliminated Lawrence Rey Topham, a constitutionalist who ran on a platform of returning the nation to the gold or silver standard.

Topham, a perennial candidate who says he hasn't used any money in 12 years, had tried to sue Souvall, claiming Souvall had filed a false financial disclosure. But a judge canceled a hearing Monday, noting Topham had improperly filed the suit. Souvall has acknowledged he made a mistake and has filed an amended form.

Souvall said he plans to work hard to get a larger turnout in November. He said he hopes to show he is closer to people in the district than Pace. She, on the other hand, said she plans to stress the value of her experience in office and in other city positions.

Reid, the first-place finisher in District 1, said he's excited to continue campaigning. He will face Don Paver in the general election.

"There will be solid campaigning from here on out," he said. "We will pick up anybody else that we can. I want this to be a campaign of the people."

Christensen, whose 812 votes were the most cast for any candidate in the city, said he hopes to stress the need for economic development in his race with second-place finisher Duane Hill.

"We have a lot of juvenile crime problems," he said. "To solve that problem long-term, we need good, strong economic development." A good economic base will provide taxes for a stronger police force, he said.