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Sandy cellist in county council race
District 5's Jensen is ex-professional, operatic soprano

If nothing else, the contest for the GOP nomination in the District 5 Salt Lake County Council race has some interesting candidates.

Winston Wilkinson is a former adherent to the philosophies of Malcolm X and later became a conservative Republican working for the Ronald Reagan administration.At least one of his Republican opponents has an interesting history of her own.

Donna Jensen is a former professional musician -- cello -- who has played with various stars including Marilyn Horne, Leonard Bernstein, Doc Severinsen and The Carpenters, as well as on the television show "Fame."

The 41-year-old Sandy resident has also played with various orchestras, including the Utah Symphony, and is a professionally trained operatic soprano.

All of which makes her current career a rather curious one: co-owner with her husband Roger Jensen of Starlight Pest Control.

"I was ready for a change," she said. "I had been playing since I was very small and wanted to do something different."

Jensen is a South Dakota native who grew up in Southern California and moved to Utah in 1982. She has six children, three of which are adopted. All of the latter are handicapped in one way or another with brain disorders, hearing impairment or attention deficit conditions.

There was no great philosophy behind it, she said. "It was just something I wanted to do."

Nevertheless, the adoptions are consistent with Jensen's general modus operandi of wanting to help people one on one. Her history also includes a stint at a convalescent hospital working with elderly people.

You might conclude from the foregoing that Jensen is not your typical political insider, and you would be right. While she has had some political involvement (current vice president of Professional Republican Women, county delegate and worker on some campaigns -- most notably County Commissioner Mary Callaghan) she styles herself as a typical citizen who's running because she's ready for a change.

"I'm tired of our representatives not communicating with us," she said. "Often they do something without telling us and the first I hear about it is from (the media). . . . I'm not Joan of Arc. The buck stops here for me" as far as running for any other office.

Wilkinson has the support of many Republican Party leaders. He is president of the Sandy Republican Club.

But Jensen says she has substantial grass-roots support.

"I'm just doing the best job I can," she said. "I know what I'm up against. I want to at least be able to say I did this."