Voters prefer incumbents in
most city council contest
By Robert Stevens
Nov. 9, 2017
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That appears to be the sentiment of Sanpete County voters who, in municipal elections that culminated on Tuesday, chose to keep in office most of the incumbents who were running for another term.
“The election went smoothly,” said Sandy Neill, Sanpete County Clerk—the same answer she gave last election, by all accounts because that was the case.
According to Neill, voter turnout exceeded the last municipal election in the county by approximately one-percent, with roughly 53-percent of the county’s registered voters casting ballots compared to the 52-percent cast in 2015.
The increase was a little surprising to Neill, seeing as how the 2015 elections had Proposition 1 on the ballot, a countywide measure to impose an additional sales tax on purchases—excluding food items—to raise revenue to specifically fund transportation projects such as specifically intended to bolster funding for transportation projectsؙ such as road construction, maintenance, and the construction of bike lanes and trails. The measure passed in Sanpete, but the issue is believed to have stirred more people to vote than would have done so otherwise.
With no such hot-button issue this year (Neill says, in her experience, there is increased voter turnout when tax hikes are on the ballot), there is no way to tell why turnout increased this year.
But one thing is clear: Voters voted comfortably for incumbent candidates who made re-election bids.
Neill said there were just a few provisional ballots in the entire county and, judging by the ballots she had already received, she did not expect any changes in election outcomes.
Following are city-by-city results of elections for city council seats (mayoral races and Fairview’s RAP tax ballot issue are in accompanying articles):
Mayfield had two open four-year council positions, as well as an uncontested two-year council seat for incumbent Mayfield Councilwoman Malynda Bjerregard. The victors of the two contested council seats were incumbent Eric Peterson, with 154 votes and Sanpete County Fair Board Chair Mike Bennett, with 134 votes. Catherine Coulter, the third candidate competing for a four-year seat garnered 45 votes.
In what originally was a three-candidate competition for two four-year seats on Gunnison City Council, the withdrawal of incumbent councilman Shawn Crane from the election turned the voters’ city-council decision into a non-decision. The remaining two candidates—Michelle Smith of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and Robert Anderson, another incumbent councilman—thus became unupposed for those seats.
Ephraim’s voters made it crystal clear that one of the two four-year council seats up for grabs in the election was going to incumbent councilwoman Margie Anderson, who ended up scooping up a whopping 716 votes, followed at a moderate distance by Greg Boothe with 486 votes. Neil Johnson came up short against his opponents with 386 votes.
Spring City was one of the few municipalities to bring fresh blood to its council with the election, but possibly not without some other factors at play. Councilman Neil Sorenson declined to re-run for election, and, despite making it past the primaries, incumbent councilwoman Kimberly Stewart dropped out of the running.
With the shift in election climate, Chris Anderson, a practicing business lawyer, turned 277 votes into a spot on one of the two open four-year council seats. The other seat went to Tom Brunner, with 183 votes. Michael Black had 164 votes as of the initial count.
The Mt. Pleasant council race was another non-decision. Both candidates for the two four-year seats, Kevin Stallings and Justin Atkinson, were incumbents and unopposed. Stallings received 488 votes, and Atkinson received 461 votes.
Fairview saw incumbent councilman Casey Anderson take 255 votes to regain his seat for another four years, while Mike Jarman earned a spot on the council by bringing in 178 votes. Sean Rawlinson was just a bit behind, with 168 votes. Former councilwoman Kristy Jensen received only 66 votes.
What began as two open seats for four-year council terms with only a single candidate in the running, Ronald Thompson, turned into a double default win for Thompson and a write-in candidate, Jared Brotherson. Thompson had 104 votes and Brotherson had six.
Jason Maylett, Manti’s incumbent candidate, took the most votes with 598. Mary Wintch had a comparative number with 552, winning the other seat on the council. Dave Oxman had 290, and Brett McCall had 107.
In Moroni, the only race was for two-year seats (two other open council seats, both of them four-year positions, were in unopposed races by Fred Atkinson and Justin Morley, who had 292 and 219, respectively.
The reason the two-year seats were not also won be default was due to a write-in campaign from Paul Green. However, Jenifer Lamb and incumbent councilman Orson Cook won the seats with 247 and 191 votes, respectively, to Green’s 77.
The sudden death of Fountain Green candidate Verden Dent turned a three-way race between the Dent, Rod Hansen and write-in Larry Woodcox into default victories for Hansen and Woodcox, with Hansen winning 229, and Woodcox 201.