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In our opinion: Utah's post election political landscape

FILE — Gov. Gary Herbert hugs his wife, Jeannette, after seeing his vote tallies in the gubernatorial race with Mike Weinholtz in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.
FILE — Gov. Gary Herbert hugs his wife, Jeannette, after seeing his vote tallies in the gubernatorial race with Mike Weinholtz in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Yesterday, we commended president-elect Donald Trump on his stunning victory. Today we extend our congratulations and prayers to those who prevailed in statewide and local elections, as well as all those who sacrificed time and treasure to vigorously participate in the political process.

The state’s democratic institutions were strengthened by your participation.

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which owns this paper) released a statement congratulating the candidates and inviting “Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to join us in praying for the president-elect, for his new administration and for elected leaders across the nation and the world. Praying for those in public office is a long tradition among Latter-day Saints.”

As the dust begins to settle and prayers begin to rise, there seems to be a collective inclination to assess the impact for both winners and losers and decipher what it all means for the future.

Around the nation, this election may portend changes in politics and parties. Yet, locally, Utah voters displayed strong support for their political leaders. Utah remains a red state with a slightly different hue. It is at once conservative and communitarian.

While analysts will pour over the results looking for real and imagined conclusions to draw, there are a couple local races that jump out pretty quickly.

Voters showed their appreciation for the leadership of Gov. Gary Herbert, giving him a record-tying third election victory. They also sent every member of the state’s House delegation and Sen. Mike Lee back to Washington, indicating their satisfaction with the work of the delegation. At the same time, they re-elected Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a Democrat, and likely gave control of the county council to Democrats, a healthy sign of voters being able to rise above partisanship.

They also appear to have sent a few more Democrats to the state Legislature, a rare gain for a party that has been marginalized in recent years. The greater balance, however, is still not enough to rob Republicans of a supermajority.

The Jordan School District won a bond election only three years after taking a drubbing in a similar, although much larger, attempt. The extra money will help the district deal with a fast growth rate. Voters in the Alpine School District also approved a bond for new construction and renovation. And Salt Lake County voters approved a bond to maintain and build recreation projects. All of this adds up to a signal that Utahns feel confident enough in the economy to add a little to their annual tax bills.

It’s also worth noting that while Utah voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, a sizable plurality of conservative voters went in a different direction. For now, Evan McMullin, the beneficiary of Utah’s dissatisfaction with the major party candidates, will likely cease making as many headlines, but may yet have a future in politics in the state if he so chooses.

Citizens of Utah have spoken. While the voters joined the nation in seeking to shakeup the status quo in Washington, for now, they feel comfortable with their governance closer to home.