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Silvestrini may be only candidate on Millcreek's mayoral ballot

FILE: Out of the nine contenders fighting to become Millcreek's first city mayor, Jeff Silvestrini and Fred Healey were in the lead after initial results were released Tuesday night.
FILE: Out of the nine contenders fighting to become Millcreek's first city mayor, Jeff Silvestrini and Fred Healey were in the lead after initial results were released Tuesday night.
Deseret News

MILLCREEK — Even though Fred Healey warned supporters last week that he may not be physically able to continue his campaign to become Millcreek's first mayor, he still won a spot on the November ballot.

Healey and Jeff Silvestrini — both supporters of Millcreek's incorporation vote last year — rose victorious above seven other candidates fighting to become the city's mayor, according to results released Tuesday night.

But it's uncertain whether Healey will continue his campaign as Silvestrini's opponent this fall. He announced in an email last week that doctors discovered an aggressive tumor on his kidney, and he even encouraged supporters to vote for Silvestrini if his news changed their minds about him as a candidate.

As of Tuesday night, Silvestrini was leading with just over 32 percent of the vote. Healey was second with about 27 percent, and former state Sen. Scott Howell led the remaining six candidates with nearly 17 percent of the vote.

Results, however, won't be final until the July 12 canvass, after lingering vote-by-mail ballots are counted.

If Healey withdraws — which is a decision he said he would make shortly after Tuesday's primary election — Silvestrini could instead be the only choice for mayor, aside from write-in candidates.

Healey did not return multiple phone calls Tuesday night, so it's unclear whether he intends to continue running for mayor.

Salt Lake County Elections Director Rozan Mitchell said according to the county attorney, if a candidate advances from the primary but bows out of his campaign, the third-place candidate would not advance to be on the ballot in November.

"It does not appear state law would allow us to move the third-place candidate up," she said.

Previously, however, Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen had told Healey he could have withdrawn before the Tuesday primary, and any votes for him would not have been counted.

Howell said after the results were released that he "respects the law; it is what it is," but he lamented that he didn't think it was "the most genuine way" to choose Millcreek's first mayor.

Howell also noted that there have been "rumors" suggesting that Silvestrini and Healey — both incorporation supporters — could have strategized to guarantee Silvestrini the seat.

"It seems to me that the timing was a little strange," Howell said. "But there's nothing that I could prove. The only ones who know if they talked about it or worked together on it are Fred and Jeff."

Silvestrini said he was "extremely disappointed" that anyone would think Healey's cancer would have been strategized.

"It's pretty hard to coordinate cancer," he said. "I think it's very sad that people would suggest that Fred's illness is some kind of conspiracy. There has been no coordination, and this decision is totally Fred's decision to make. I have no control over it."

Silvestrini said Healey called him Tuesday night to congratulate him, but he didn't discuss whether he planned to withdraw.

"I pray to God that Fred recovers," he said.

Silvestrini said he's also "grateful and humbled" by the support he garnered Tuesday night.

"It's a reward for all the hard work I've done as a volunteer," he said, referring to his years as chairman of the Mount Olympus Community Council. "I am looking forward to making Millcreek the most awesome city in Utah."

As for the City Council contest, eight out of 24 other candidates will also continue on to the November ballot.

Silvia Catten and Diane Angus were leading Tuesday night to face off for the District 1 seat, while Dwight Marchant and Dwayne A. Vance were ahead to compete for District 2, Cheri M. Jackson and Jem Keller for District 3, and Bev Uipi and Seraya Amirthalingam for District 4.

Tuesday marked a historic election for Millcreek's 63,000 residents, tasked with choosing their first government leaders as the township prepares to officially transition to a city Jan. 1, 2017.

The novelty of Millcreek's first election drew not only Salt Lake County's most crowded mayoral primary in more than a decade, but also high voter turnout.

More than 38 percent of Millcreek's 30,000 active voters' ballots were counted as of Tuesday night, approaching Salt Lake City's high-profile mayoral primary turnout last year, which hit a high of just over 40 percent.

The special election was launched after voters last year chose to incorporate Millcreek by a 2-to-1 margin.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com

Twitter: KatieMcKellar1