Gunnison mayor’s race a tight one;
other mayoral races decided easily
By John Hales
Nov. 9, 2017
Voters in eight Sanpete cities this week determined who would be new mayors in those cities come January.
In Gunnison, the race for mayor between Lori Nay and Blake Donaldson showed a difference of only eight votes.
In most cases of tight elections, the outcome can hinge on provisional ballots that require verification, or other late but still valid votes that come in.
However, Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill said Tuesday night that she didn’t expect much of a change in that regard in Gunnison’s election. There were only a few provisional ballots across the entire county, Neill said.
“It’s a dang close race, but I don’t think it will change,” she said. “We’re going to wait until we’ve got everything all in and counted, and add them to the canvass.”
Other mayoral races in Sanpete were much more cut and dry. (See table of mayoral election results accompanying this article).
In four of the eight contested mayoral races in the county, incumbent mayors were seeking re-election. And in all four of those cases, voters did chose to retain those incumbents: Richard Squire in Ephraim, John Christensen in Mayfield, Sandra Bigler in Mt. Pleasant (Bigler had been serving as interim mayor since former Mayor David Blackham resigned in May) and Keith Jensen in Wales.
The closest of the three races involving incumbents was between Bigler and Simons in Mt. Pleasant. The vote was 58 to 42 percent for Bigler.
In that race, Blackham, the former mayor, ran ads in behalf of Simons accusing the Bigler administration of “nepotism” and “conflict of interest.”
“I feel Dave hurt me quite a bit, but that’s his right. That’s out of my hands,” Bigler said the day after the election. “I just appreciate everyone who did vote for me.”
Despite a mayor controversy in the past year over the performance of the police chief, culminating in the resignations of three patrol officers, Squire was reelected handily, with a 62 to 38 percent margin over Olson.
Olson did not contest Squire’s handling of the police matter but said repeatedly his motive for running was to give voters a choice.
Mayors in three other cities that had contested races will be: Paul Bailey in Moroni, Willard Wood in Fountain Green and David Taylor in Fairview.
The other five of Sanpete’s 13 municipalities all had mayoral races that were uncontested.
“It was a good election,” Neill said. Turnout was “unbelievably good.” She said as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, average voter turnout in the various cities was nearly 53 percent.