West Valley’s first female leader, a familiar face in Moab and Sandy’s crowded race: Here are some of Utah’s new mayors
‘Good Golly write in Mollie’: Underdog write-in candidate on pace to beat incumbent mayor in rural Iron County
As county clerks continue to update election results, we have a sense of what Utah cities will have a new leader at their helm.
There are still an estimated 45,000 outstanding ballots in Utah’s most populated county, according to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office. That includes uncured, provisional and ballots that need signature verification. And clerks around the state are emphasizing that election results are not final until all eligible ballots have been tabulated.
But between a new mayor in southern Utah’s tourism hub, a write-in candidate becoming the first woman to lead a small Iron County community, and the narrowing of Sandy’s crowded mayoral race, here are some cities around the Beehive State that are on track to see a new mayor.
Current Mayor Emily Niehaus did not run for reelection this year, and because the city opted in to a ranked choice voting program, Moabites had a crowded field of six candidates to choose from.
Joette Langianese, current executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks, has a lead of more than 100 votes over Bill Winfield. Her edge will likely carry her through the two week canvassing period.
Though new to Moab city government, Langianese is no stranger to Grand County politics — she served two terms on the county council, was appointed to serve on the Utah State Radiation Control Board by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, and heads a nonprofit that works with the National Park Service to identify projects in need of funding at Canyonlands and Arches.
Mollie Halterman has one of the more surprising storylines from this election, winning the mayoral election in Parowan, a town of roughly 3,000 along I-15 in Iron County, as a write-in candidate.
Halterman currently has most of the 579 write-in votes, beating Vickie Hicks and incumbent Preston Griffiths with 49.44% of the vote.
Halterman, whose slogan was “Good Golly write in Mollie” will become Parowan’s first female mayor.
Summit County’s ski mecca of Park City has seen one of the more dramatic upsets in Utah’s 2021 local elections.
First-term Mayor Andy Beerman is far behind a challenger from the Park City Council, Councilwoman Nann Worel.
Worel led with 60% of the vote, with 2,010 votes to Beerman’s 1,274 votes, according to updated election results posted Wednesday.
Sandy had a whopping eight mayoral candidates vying for the seat, after the city skipped a primary and piloted ranked choice voting. Now it looks like all but two are facing elimination — current city councilwoman Monica Zoltanski and Jim Bennett, son of longtime Utah senator Bob Bennett.
As of Thursday evening, Zoltanski holds a 115 vote edge over Bennet. And with so many ballots outstanding, the race for one of Salt Lake City’s largest suburbs is still too close to call.
West Valley City
Karen Lang currently holds a 1,866 vote lead over Steve Buhler in the mayoral race for Utah’s second most populated city. Both Lang and Buhler serve on the West Valley City Council.
The results are unofficial, but if the updates continue to swing her way, Lang will become the first woman to serve as mayor West Valley City since it was incorporated in 1980.
Incumbent mayor Ron Bigelow did not run for reelection.
Cottonwood Heights will see a new mayor after Mike Peterson decided not to seek a second term. Unofficial results show Mike Weichers holding a steady lead of more than 400 votes over Eric Kraan.
A former business owner who currently works for Zions Bank, Weichers is new to politics. The ranked choice election featured five candidates.
Policing was a frequent topic during the campaign, and Peterson’s term saw a violent, tense clash between officers and protesters during a police brutality demonstration in Cottonwood Heights.
“We support the right of every citizen to protest and rally. ... When it moved to the neighborhood, constituents and residents got very nervous and concerned,” Peterson told the Deseret News after the protest.
Murray Mayor D. Blair Camp did not seek reelection, and current city councilman Brett A. Hales is currently on track to replace him with just shy of 60% of the vote. Hales, who retired as vice-president of Cyprus Credit Union, saw competition from Clark Bullen but emerged early as the frontrunner, receiving nearly 61% of the vote in the primary.
Hales currently has a 1,800 vote lead over Bullen.
Lorin Palmer has a 1,547 vote lead over Herriman City Councilman Clint Smith to become the city’s next mayor. Mayor David Watts didn’t seek reelection
Palmer is a founding member of Herriman for Responsible Growth and Utah for Responsible Growth, two groups that in 2020 came out in strong opposition to the sprawling and controversial Olympia Hills development.
The Herriman City Council recently voted during a special meeting to annex the 933-acre, 6,330-unit, Daybreak-like development on previously unincorporated Salt Lake County land. It will likely be one of the key issues of Palmer’s term.
Bluffdale Emergency Programs Manager Natalie Hall will likely become the city’s next mayor, holding a commanding 1,348 vote lead (76%) over embattled former Fire Chief John Roberts.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is reviewing new allegations against Roberts, who is also the subject of complaints alleging city employees received pay for shifts they didn’t work.
A small community of roughly 400 skiers at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta will be getting a new mayor after Harris Sondak withdrew his candidacy. Roger Bourke ran uncontested and will take his place.
North Salt Lake City
North Salt Lake City Councilman Brian Horrocks is on track to be city’s next mayor and holds a commanding 1,888 vote lead over Gary Widders.
Mayor Len Arave did not seek reelection.
The Davis County primary election proved to be an effective preview into Syracuse’s mayoral race, which currently has incumbent Mike Gailey trailing his challenger, Councilman Dave Maughan.
Maughan is leading with 53.9% of the vote (2,841 votes) to Gailey’s 46% (2,428 votes).
On the north end of the Wasatch Front in Davis County, it’s not looking good for Bountiful Mayor Randy Lewis.
Lewis’ challenger, Councilwoman Kendalyn Keyes Harris, is leading the race with about 66% of the vote (7,554 votes) to Lewis’ 33.6% (3,826 votes), according to election night results.
It’s a tight race and could possibly flip, but Clinton Mayor Mitch Adams is trailing his challenger, Brandon Stranger.
Updated election results posted Wednesday had Stranger leading with 50.7% of the vote (1,916 votes) to Adams’ 49.2% (1,856 votes). Only 60 votes separate the candidates, though that’s almost double the 37 votes that separated them on election night.
In Iron County, Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson Edwards is in danger of losing her seat to challenger Garth Orwin Green.
Edwards was only ahead by 16 votes on election night. As the tally currently stands, Edwards has 49.7% of the vote (2,614 votes) to Green’s 49.4% (2,598 votes).
Jim Talbot is wrapping up 12 years in the Farmington mayoral seat, and it appears City Councilman Brett Anderson is taking over.
Anderson’s background includes five years on the city’s planning commission and almost six years on the city council. He holds an almost 1,000 vote lead over his opponent and city council colleague Rebecca Wayment.
With a 1,600 vote lead over Jay Welk, it looks like City Councilwoman Tamara Tran will become Kaysville’s next mayor.
Former congressional candidate Katie Witt, who made headlines for her support of a protest concert that was scheduled in Kaysville despite COVID-19 restrictions, did not seek reelection in the city’s mayoral race.
In 2020, the Kaysville City Council moved to censure Witt, but stopped short at calling for her resignation.
Woods Cross Mayor Rick Earnshaw did not seek reelection this year and will be replaced by Ryan Westergard, a current city councilman who ran uncontested.
In another super close race, Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter might lose her seat in the booming Wasatch County town that has been on the national radar for in-migration, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Election night results had Potter trailing her challenger, Heidi Franco, by just 2 percentage points. Franco led with 51% (1,664 votes) to Potter’s 48.99% (1,598 votes).
David A. Young holds a wide, over 2,000 vote margin over Jim Evans for Orem mayor. It’s a surprising turn for Evans, who served as the city’s mayor and councilman a decade ago, in addition to several other government positions.
Young comes from a business background and started several companies including Paragon Wealth Management.
Two-term mayor Richard Brunst did not seek reelection.
Mayor Richard J. Child did not seek reelection this year, leaving an open field for Springville’s ranked choice election.
But the race wasn’t close, and City Councilman Matt Packard walloped his competition, receiving 78.1% of the vote, more than doubling what candidates Ryan Miller and Matthew Norman Bailey received combined.
Correction: A previous version had the incorrect spelling of the town Parowan. It also incorrectly described Mike Weichers as a business owner. He is a former business owner who currently works for Zions Bank.