OGDEN — Could Ogden have its first-ever woman mayor?
Any way you look at the Ogden mayoral race, which pits incumbent Matthew Godfrey against Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser, either candidate could win.
Godfrey received 207 more votes in the primary than Van Hooser. However, there were almost 1,600 votes logged in the primary that went to neither of the two advancing candidates. Plus, a larger voter turnout is expected for the Nov. 6 general election. Ogden has almost 45,000 registered voters.
If Van Hooser wins, it would be a historic day in Ogden government — she would become the city's first female mayor.
"I think it's an exciting time for women in politics," Van Hooser said. "Women can do just as well as men in an open environment."
She said many Ogden residents are concerned about the city's faltering infrastructure and vanishing open space, and she's ready to address those issues as mayor.
Those have been neglected during the past seven years, she feels.
Why should Ogdenites vote for her? "Because I want sensible, open, unified leadership," she said.
She pledged to listen to all sides before making decisions.
Van Hooser also said she'll work hard to market Ogden and partner with Weber County, the state, Weber State University and the applied technology college to create new opportunities for jobs and growth.
Among her other goals would be sensible spending. She said that means decreasing, not increasing Ogden's debt and opening the city's finances to public scrutiny — while avoiding channeling money though semi-private foundations.
If re-elected, it would be Godfrey's third term.
Why should Ogden re-elect Godfrey?
To continue making the changes he's heard the people of Ogden requesting, he states on his Web site.
"Crime is down 23 percent in the past seven years," he told the Deseret Morning News. "We have lowered property taxes three times, and we have recruited more than 7,000 jobs to Ogden. We have completed more than 60 acres of redevelopment in downtown Ogden and have another 120 acres currently under way. This has generated more than $1 billion of private investment that will go a long way in providing more tax relief to homeowners. Ogden is undergoing a major renaissance, and we would like a chance to finish what we started."
If re-elected, Godfrey said his goals are to finish the 120 acres of downtown redevelopment, lower crime by another 10 percent and to attract another 4,000 jobs to Ogden.
Recreation is indeed high on his list. He wants Ogden to become the capital of high-adventure recreation by completing more recreation venues and attracting even more outdoor recreation companies to Ogden.
"We currently have more ski companies in Ogden than any other city in the country has," he said.
Being fluent in Spanish is a Godfrey plus for Ogden's growing Spanish-speaking population.
Godfrey has spent about $60,000 so far in his bid for re-election and expects to spend even more in the final days before the election. He said he has hundreds of contributors.
Van Hooser has spent about $25,000 on her campaign thus far.
Having lived in Ogden most of his life, Godfrey holds a master's degree in accounting from Weber State University. He's worked for Iomega and other local businesses.
Van Hooser is a retired teacher from the Ogden City School District. She's served on the Ogden City Landmarks Commission, the Weber County Heritage Foundation and the Ogden City Neighborhood Stability Committee since having moved to Ogden in 1978. She grew up in southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She was appointed to the council a year ago to fill a vacancy.