Sanpete voters narrow field in primary election–incumbent mayors advance to finals in four Sanpete cities

Election night results for all the municipalities in Sanpete County who held a primary election.  The final results will be announced when the cities hold their canvass of the election which will be sometime between August 17th and August 24th.

Incumbents led the pack in three out of four mayoral races in Tuesday’s primary. And in the fourth race, a mayor seeking his fourth term ran second but still advanced to the final election.

In Centerfield, Mayor Thomas Sorensen, a respiratory therapist at Central Valley Medical Center who was first elected in 2009, came in second behind Travis Leatherwood, who teaches at the Gunnison Valley Seminary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Leatherwood got 146 and Sorensen 76. The two will face each other in November. David Beck, a city councilman, got 63 and was eliminated. About 42 percent of Centerfield voters cast ballots.

“I’m pretty excited,” Sorensen said Wednesday. “It’s nice to know we have the support of the community. We have some work to do to sway a few more votes, but I think we can get the job done.”

“I was surprised, honestly,” Leatherwood said. “I was surprised…I made it. Crazy stuff.” He said both Sorensen and Beck are “wonderful people” and “I thought I thought it would be really close.” 

In Manti, the current mayor, Korry Soper, did not seek re-election. But incumbent Councilman Darren Dyreng, who is a Cache Valley Bank executive, came out first among three candidates in a fairly close race that attracted nearly 55 percent of the city’s registered voters.

Dyreng, who was the target of a fallacious letter circulated a week before the election accusing him of being anti-business, got 390 votes. (See page 6 for article on the fake letter.) 

He will face Alfred “Chuck” Bigelow, a former warden at both the Utah State Prison and Central Utah Correctional Facility, in the final election. Bigelow got 330. Shannon Miller, a retired pharmacy sales executive who has led major projects in the city, got 308 votes and was eliminated.

“I’m obviously pleased with the result, Dyreng said, “but I have work to do the let people know who I am and what I can do for the city.”

He said Shannon Miller who was eliminated, did a good job and worked hard in her campaign. “I’m sure she’ll continue to have a desire to help out the city,” he said. 

“I’m very pleased, but it was really close overall,” Bigelow said. “You had three good candidates running for mayor and five for city council, all good people, honestly.”

In Mt. Pleasant, voters appeared to be pleased with the performance of Mayor Michael Olsen, who hadn’t been involved in local politics before running as a write-in in 2019 to replace Mayor David Blackham, who was elected in 2017 but resigned during his term. Olsen, who works for Sanpete Valley Hospital, ran well ahead of other contenders with 331 votes.

Running second was Russell “Bull” Keisel, who is retired from the Utah National Guard and is now a general contractor, ran second with 198 votes. Olsen and Keisel will oppose each other in the final election. Jeff McDonald, with 171 votes and Dan Simons with 87 were eliminated. The race attracted 46 percent of registered voters in Mt. Pleasant.

In Moroni, Mayor Paul Bailey, a Sanpete County sheriff’s deputy who is seeking a second term, came out first in a three-way race with 161 votes. Jacob Mitchie, a carpenter, ran second with 109 votes. Jared Howells, who gathered signatures opposing construction of a fountain in the main city park, got 61 votes and was eliminated. The race brought out approximately 48 percent of Moroni voters.

Bailey said he hopes in the final election people will remember the things that have been accomplished in his administration, including the new Veteran’s Park, construction of pickleball courts in the city park and improvements at the Opera House, among others.

This story was updated to correct it was Jared Howells who gathered signatures opposing the fountain, not Jacob Mitchie. (08/11/2021, 3:23pm)