SALT LAKE CITY — Republicans have regained a majority on the Salt Lake County Council.
Small-business owner Richard Snelgrove defeated longtime Utah journalist Holly Mullen on Tuesday night in the race to replace Democrat Jenny Wilson for a six-year at-large seat on the County Council.
Snelgrove received 54 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Mullen, a Democrat and Wilson's stepmother.
Snelgrove's victory, combined with the re-elections of Republican incumbents David Wilde (District 3) and Steve DeBry (District 5), will give the GOP a 5-4 majority on the council in 2011.
Democrats have held the council majority for the past two years.
"It's because of the support of my family and a large group of volunteers of University of Utah students that we were able to prevail," Snelgrove said.
He said he wants to bring the principles of being thrifty and frugal to Salt Lake County government "so taxpayers get the best bang for their buck."
Mullen said she hopes the now GOP-majority council doesn't ignore the needs of all county residents.
"We need good budgeting and good accountability," she said as results trickled in Tuesday night, "but we also need to provide service and care about people."
Wilde earned a third term as the District 3 representative and a fourth term on the County Council overall, defeating Democrat Diane Turner 56 percent to 44 percent.
In District 5, Steve DeBry garnered 69 percent of the vote to retain the seat he won in a special GOP election after Jeff Allen retired for family reasons in November 2009. Democratic challenger Tyler Andrus' got 31 percent of the vote.
Democrats retained the District 1 seat being vacated at the end of the year by Councilman Joe Hatch, with Arlyn Bradshaw earning a comfortable 67 percent to 33 percent victory over Republican and former at-large County Councilman Steve Harmsen. Bradshaw has been a council adviser to Hatch for the past three years.
Salt Lake County voters approved Proposition 1 to raise the final $15 million needed to complete the Utah Museum of Natural History project. Fifty-seven percent of county residents said they are willing to pay an additional $2.40 per year in property tax for 15 years, based on an average home price of $265,000, to complete the new $101 million, 163,000-square-foot museum at the Rio Tinto Center on the University of Utah campus. Forty-three percent voted against the bond.
"We're really honored that voters are supporting the proposition," said Sarah George, the museum's executive director. "We're really excited to show everyone the new museum when it open next fall."
In other countywide races, longtime Clerk Sherrie Swensen, a Democrat, was cruised to victory over Republican challenger Jeremy Votaw, earning 62 percent of the vote, compared with Votaw's 38 percent.
Incumbents Lee Gardner (assessor), Gary Ott (recorder) and Reid J. Demman (surveyor) also were re-elected.
Republican Gregory P. Hawkins won a close race against incumbent auditor Jeff Hatch, with Hawkins getting 51 percent of the vote to Hatch's 49 percent. A little less than 2,400 votes separated the two candidates.
Also, Republican K. Wayne Cushing earned a 55 percent to 45 percent victory over Bill Anderson, a Democrat, to replace three-term treasurer Larry W. Richardson, who did not seek re-election.
In West Valley City, voters rejected a $25 million bond proposal to build and upgrade parks and trails. Fifty-seven percent voted against Proposition 3, compared with 43 percent for the ballot issue. The bond would have added $25 per year in property tax on an average home and $45 per year for businesses.