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Shireen Ghorbani announces run for Salt Lake County mayor

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Shireen Ghorbani, Democratic candidate for Utah's 2nd Congressional District, addresses supporters at an election night event for the Utah Democratic Party at the Radisson in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Shireen Ghorbani, Democratic candidate for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, addresses supporters at an election night event for the Utah Democratic Party at the Radisson in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. On Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, announced she is throwing her hat in the ring to become Salt Lake County mayor.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Shireen Ghorbani is the latest to announce her bid for Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams' position when he begins his term as congressman.

Ghorbani first informed members of the Salt Lake Democratic Party Central Committee of her plan to run before announcing it publicly Saturday afternoon.

But she said the decision was nothing new.

"I have not been 'considering' whether or not to run for county mayor," Ghorbani said in a press release. "I knew the minute the results for Ben McAdams were final that I would run."

The committee will hold a special election among its members to choose McAdams' replacement after he formally resigns.

"I personally knocked on too many doors in our community and heard too many stories about people who really need strong leadership on some of the biggest challenges we're facing," Ghorbani told the Deseret News Saturday.

Affordable housing and health care — especially mental health care — were the biggest concerns she noticed throughout her 2nd District Congressional campaign in 2018, and they will be the main issues she will focus on, she said. Homelessness, air quality, growth and general quality of life were others she noticed and plans to address.

"It was such an honor to run for office … to listen and really hear from so many people who live in Salt Lake and in this community," she said. "The kinds of issues that they were facing were really similar to a lot of the things that I cared about."

Although Ghorbani did not win her election bid to replace Congressman Chris Stewart, she won 67 percent of the vote in Salt Lake County, which is divided among three of the state's four congressional districts.

Her announcement comes a day after former U.S. Senate candidate Jenny Wilson announced she will run for McAdams' seat as well.

"I think our party is stronger when we have lots of strong candidates with good experiences and backgrounds coming to the table," Ghorbani said. "I think that we're able to make good decisions about leadership for our county, and that's really exciting."

Although Ghorbani is especially passionate about a few issues and has a "clear, bold vision" of Salt Lake County's future, she plans to build on the "strong foundation and momentum" of McAdams' time in office.

She said she talked to McAdams after his election victory was announced, first to congratulate him, and then to discuss what his priorities were as mayor and what opportunities he saw in the future. They were concerned and passionate about very similar things, Ghorbani said.

"Every family deserves affordable health care, quality economic opportunities, and the right to a dignified quality of life. The county is the place where policy and resources intersect to guarantee these issues and so much more," Ghorbani tweeted Saturday after announcing her candidacy.

"County government is where the rubber meets the road," she said in the release.

Ghorbani feels her current and recent work at the University of Utah in facilities management — "the city managers of campus," she calls it — will translate into being an effective county mayor, especially collaboration and communication within the university and its "neighbors."

"I really would hold an open-door policy, to make sure that individuals working in the county and community members are able to get in touch," she said. "It would be my firmest commitment to be responsive to their needs and concerns."

Ghorbani said her "fresh set of eyes" would set her apart from other candidates.

"Are we doing this in the most fiscally responsible way?" she wondered. "Are we doing this in the most creative or the most exciting way that we could be?"

Ghorbani said she learned about the importance of working together during her door-to-door campaigning.

"I was regularly reminded that there’s far more that unites us than divides us," she said in her announcement. "When we work together to find solutions, our communities only get stronger."