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The Mayor Bunch

Feature: It’s more than a hunch: The Candidates are packed wall-to-wall this year. Let City Weekly help you sort them out.


Attention, Salt Lakers: If you have a stake in who will be the once and future mayor of Salt Lake City, best get thee hence to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Because, after the primary, due to this city’s weird way of selecting a mayor, only two of the nine candidates will be left standing … and the results could be startling.

Over the years, the Salt Lake City mayorship has come to mean more than a mere CEO of the city corporation. Under current Mayor Rocky Anderson, in particular, the position has become a wellspring of liberal and progressive political action, often in stark contrast to the rest of conservative Utah. Most candidates in this year’s race covet the extended opportunity afforded by the office. Front-runners claim to be progressive, green, pro-public transit and committed to revitalizing downtown. Most pledge to tone down but continue Rocky Anderson’s activism. Even Salt Lake City Councilman Dave Buhler, running on the “I’m not Rocky” ticket, touts his support of progressive city initiatives.

Moderate Republican Dave Buhler aims to extend TRAX, create an Office of Sustainability, support economic growth and development on the west side and improve the city’s infrastructure.

Republican-turned-independent (but mostly businessman) Keith Christensen espouses many of the same goals. He is for extending TRAX, reducing crime, investing in infrastructure and limiting the city’s carbon footprint. 

Ditto for first-term Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson on TRAX, downtown and a green city. The Democrat also highlights plans for cleaning the air, expanding health care, affirming rights for gays and expanding opportunities for minorities and small business.

Longtime Utah Democratic legislative leader Ralph Becker ditto again, but he highlights trail building, neighborhood planning and his desire to be the “education” mayor.

Candidates can promise anything. In the end, however, it helps to know them by their past deeds, their supporters, their enemies and their missteps. To that end, City Weekly has taken a closer look at the four front-runners, poring over lists of campaign contributors and endorsements to see who’s in the pockets of whom.

For those unreconstructed Rockyites who harbor a secret wish Anderson will run as a write-in while globetrotting to stop global warming, our Rocky Meter provides a gauge, on an 80-proof scale, of how each candidate is true in spirit to Rocky. How do candidates stack up against qualities like, say, preachy moralizing on behalf of the environment? Rabble-rousing against The Man? Sex appeal? Playing well with others? In a tabloid vein, how boring will their administrations be? And last, but certainly not least, in this liquor-obsessed state, could they lead or even participate in a pub crawl?

While we scrutinized the four big-money candidates, we also sought the views of the five remaining mayoral hopefuls in a “Five on Five” Q&A column. (Answers from the Big Four candidates for the same questionnaire can be found here.)

This upcoming primary not only thins the herd for the city mayor but also for two Salt Lake City Council races. As such, we’ve taken a look at candidates clamoring to represent Districts 4 and 6 and offer their stories exclusively at Incumbent for District 4 Nancy Saxton—who earlier this spring tested the waters for a run at mayor and later reconsidered—will fight to keep her seat, while District 6 has a hotly contested open seat, vacated by Dave Buhler. (District 2’s race between incumbent Van Turner and Michael Clara will be decided in the November election.)

It is a political truism that money doesn’t buy primaries; they’re usually won by candidates whose grass-roots support shows up at the polls. So don’t let the big bucks scare you; voter turnout matters most in this upcoming preliminary. Let our handy guide help you make up your mind about Salt Lake City’s once and future mayor. Then you get yourselves to the polls.

Pleasant voting.

Editor’s note: It wouldn’t be an Election Issue if we didn’t disclose that City Weekly editor Holly Mullen is candidate Jenny Wilson’s stepmom. Mullen played no role in editing or reporting on this section.

Ralph Becker

Dave Buhler

Keith Christensen

Jenny Wilson

Five on Five

SLC Council Race: District 4

SLC Council Race: District 6